Regulator: Paddy Power ad which asked viewers to ‘spot the trans lady’ was offensive

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The Advertising Standard Agency has upheld complaints about an advert by Irish bookmaker Paddy Power which asked viewers to ‘spot the trans lady’.

The ASA said today it had received 92 complaints about the advert, which was released in February.

It ruled the ad was likely to “cause serious or widespread offence against generally accepted moral, social or cultural standards” and “condoned and encouraged harmful discriminatory behaviour and treatment” towards transgender people.

It noted that the advert had not been prepared “with a sense of responsibility to the audience and to society”.

Clearcast, the broadcaster-owned company that ensures adverts comply with the relevant standards, quickly revoked its approval of the bookmaker’s advert, removing it from broadcast on terrestrial and satellite channels. The ASA has now confirmed it should not be broadcast in its current form.

The advert in question showed a number of transgender women mixing at a racecourse ahead of Cheltenham Ladies’ Day. The voiceover said it planned to “send in some beautiful transgender ladies” to the upcoming event and suggested viewers “spot the stallions from the mares” in the advert as practice.

The advert showed a series of women in the enclosures and indoor areas while the voiceover said “woman” or “man” for each.

After a shot of a woman holding a dog, another woman emerged from a men’s toilet as the voiceover said “Dog. I mean, man”.

For the last woman, the voiceover said: “Good luck with that.”

The ASA today confirmed it was offensive and “condoned and encouraged harmful discriminatory behaviour and treatment”, and should not be shown again in its current form.

Jennie Kermode, Chair of Trans Media Watch told this morning: “We at Trans Media Watch welcome today’s decision by the ASA to uphold complaints about Paddy Power’s transphobic advert. The notion of offensiveness is often trivialised but we see this as a simple safety issue.

“It is not a good idea to invite men to single out trans women for ridicule, especially in a context like the races where many are likely to be drunk. We have been contacted by trans women who have been harassed in relation to this advert and we are concerned that it may place any woman who looks a bit masculine at risk. Unfortunately, when it comes to transphobia, verbal harassment can easily spill over into intimidation or violence.

“We feel that Paddy Power has been disingenuous in its response to the decision, citing support from Clearcast which has been withdrawn and approval from the Beaumont Society which was based on an incomplete script.

“We realise it may welcome the publicity this ruling brings but we hope LGBT people will remember how it has acted when choosing which betting shop to use.”

Paddy Power told it was disappointed with the ASA’s ruling.

It said in a statement: “This decision is especially frustrating given that the commercial was pre-approved by British television advertising clearance body Clearcast who then considered the humour in the advert, while not to everyone’s taste, fell short of causing offence.

“Furthermore, we exclusively cast members of the Trans community in the various transgender roles in the

“Given the attention and diligence we demonstrated throughout the development of this commercial, we are very disappointed by the ASA decision.

“Finally it is worth pointing out that the commercial has almost 600,000 views [on YouTube] with twice as many ‘likes’ than ‘dislikes’.”

Updated 12:15pm BST.