Phone Company 3 Appologises After Transphobic Advert

vodafone

Three Ireland is currently receiving a large amount of criticism following the release of a billboard add that many people are condemning as being transphobic.

As part of their mobile data campaign the company released a billboard advertisement featuring the phrase, ‘Sorry Vodafone customers, it turned out he was a she after you’d used all your data’.

Despite a number of public complaints on the social network Twitter, Three insist that it was never their intention to offend anyone.

vodafone text

The company has stated that ‘It’s part of a wider campaign that gives examples of when you can often miss the best bits of TV/films when you’re streaming because you’ve used all your data.  Another example in the campaign is ‘Sorry Vodafone customers, Ireland scored the winning try after you’d used all your data’.  Again, we’re sorry for any offence caused and hope this explains the concept and that no offence was intended at all.’

Despite the outrage from many people who found the advert offencive, a number of people came to the companies defence, claiming that their intentions were clearly not to mock trans people and that the transgender community should not have ’caused a fuss over nothing’.

Intentions not withstanding, the advert is offencive.  It doesn’t matter what they were trying to do, they were using the transgender community, an incredibly marginalised and oppressed community, to further their own ends.  It might not be offencive to everyone, but surely those people who do not find it offencive can understand why it can be found to be in poor taste?

And to those who are still finding this kind of thing acceptable, and even attack the trans community and their allies when they find this kind of thing offencive, congratulations on never having to deal with oppression in your lives, now kindly shut up and respect our god damned opinions on what is and isn’t offencive to our community.

Amy.

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Amy is a journalist and editor contributing the websites Planet Transgender, Gay News Network, The Bottle Episode, The Retro Box and Claire Channel. Amy is also a published comic book writer and letterer.

In addition to her writing Amy has also worked with the Centre For Hate Crime Studies in Leicester and has worked in the capacity of an advisor to the United Nations Entity For Gender Equality and The Empowerment of Women.

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3 Responses to Phone Company 3 Appologises After Transphobic Advert

  1. Andrew Williams July 16, 2015 at 1:01 pm

    I don’t understand why it’s necessarily offensive to trans people, but I’m not trans so maybe that’s a factor in my lack of understanding. It doesn’t say that “he” being revealed as a “she” is bad (maybe you’re super excited that a person using male pronouns up to that point in the show just said she would like to start using female pronouns).

    Can anyone explain why this is necessarily transphobic? Does this company have a history that suggests their intentions were transphobic?

    I wouldn’t defend the ad, but I don’t think I can condemn it either, based on what little I see here. Can anyone help me see the light?

  2. Ella July 16, 2015 at 4:22 pm

    Hi Andrew. This is what I know to be true (until I learn more and can express it better. =) )

    It’s offensive because it’s oppressive to a vulnerable minority, on the following levels:

    (1) Trans Panic

    Many murderers, rapists and violators of trans people (especially trans women) avoid legal prosecution by using what’s called the “trans panic” defense. This is where the perp believes themselves innocent because the gender presentation/signals/authenticity of the trans person is different than their medical physical history (body might look more male/female between the legs, at odds with the rest of the entirety of their person), and they exclaim, “but I thought he was a she!”

    By using “executioner’s humour” in an advertisement, where a joke about “surprise! You don’t know this person as much as your pre-conditioned thought about this person” is made about an oppressed minority at their expense, society is being taught to normalize this kind of trans panic vocabulary and violence as being OK.

    More information here: http://modelviewculture.com/pieces/gawking-at-rape-culture

    (2) Gender erasure

    Trans people are extremely at risk for discrimination, violence and murder when their brain-gender isn’t harmonized with their bodies:

    https://globalequality.wordpress.com/2015/07/09/the-state-of-lgbt-rights-abroad/

    http://76crimes.com/100s-die-in-homophobic-anti-gay-attacks-statistics-updates/

    The majority of these atrocities are committed by people who conflate gender with sex, as in: genitals = the human, forgetting entirely about the brain, consciousness, or even spirit, the dominant elements of perception and selfhood in the human experience.

    These aggressors attempt to erase a person’s gender by ignoring mind and consciousness, reducing them to being “only bodies”. So if a woman has a penis, she is at risk of being called “a man in a dress”, and is no longer a woman, a person who has female gender as her natural state of wholeness, comfort, and identity via the mind, consciousness, and experience.

    So when a marketing campaign repeats the “he was a she” dialogue trans people hear all the time from non-trans people who seek to erase their gender and personhood to that of “has genitals”, it is normalizing and encouraging discrimination, gender erasure, and sexualization/reduction of personhood to that of objectified genitals.

    Trans people have to actively deflect this reductionism and erasure by refusing to answer “did you have surgery on your genitals” type questions. Ex: http://www.salon.com/2014/01/07/laverne_cox_artfully_shuts_down_katie_courics_invasive_questions_about_transgender_people/

    (3) Loss of medical privacy

    When people with differently mapped brains and bodies than what society expects seek authenticity in their lives, they sometimes need medical support. Humans are naturally inclined as experiencers to be able to “feel” their truth. This often requires a body that is not an obstacle to the experience of truth. Due to how medicine is data-driven, to receive medical support, diversified people need to subject themselves to medical labels (transexual, transgender, intersex, androgen insensitive, etc.) that can be supported by their doctors and/or medical insurance. (Healthcare is about database integrity more than it is human experience.) This means if a man has breasts and needs provincial/state/employer etc. health care support for a double mastectomy, their health care provider needs to assign a category, a label, to authorize the financial support. This becomes a burden as you’ll read below.

    First world countries have anti-discrimination laws so that you’re generally protected from denial of housing, healthcare, and employment based on medical history. Ex: Most people don’t need to disclose their diabetes to work as a CEO. They don’t need to mention their high cholesterol to work in a restaurant. But people medically labeled with trans* words, are NOT protected. Society treats them differently. They are not seen as “people” to which these laws should also apply, so the laws get ignored left and right. There is no vocabulary in human charters of rights for transpeople.

    This creates an additional privacy-protection pressure for trans people to not disclose medical privacy, because when they do, if applying for a job or dating, they experience what’s called “being outed.” BLAM, once this happens, discrimination, hate, potential for murder, loss of housing, loss of employment, loss of relationship, and loss of health care from some specialists all become possible.

    This means that casual dialogue about trans people of the “he used to be a she”, however incorrect because gender is revealed and let, not acquired, trans people immediately get thrown under a bus any time that kind of vocabulary is used because it is most often meant about body, and health care of the kind that aligns visual perception of trans people usually targets body.

    When a marketing campaign participates in that kind of casual dialog of outing trans people by referring to their bodies in “used to be” terms, even if only by suggestion, it normalizes this “outing transpeople” dialog as ok, not harmful, when in fact it is causing MORE harm to trans people.


    For the ultimate shutdown on why “he was she” dialogue is absurd and harmful to people who are pioneering new dialogue in the human condition, realize that there is no binary, no transition, and no “he was a she” because the binary doesn’t exist, only prejudice, abstraction, and preconception:

    http://www.nature.com/news/sex-redefined-1.16943

  3. Ian Faith July 16, 2015 at 6:13 pm

    Again it’s the old “Can’t you take a joke?” rubbish.

    Well NO… and as an ally (I’m Cis Male) I don’t appreciate this kind of transphobic nonsense… it’s using so-called ‘humour’ to sell a product which is offensive.

    Would they have mocked a particular racial group?

    Course not – that’d cause TOO much trouble… but hey, the Trans Community – easy target.

    Well no – and I’m GLAD there’s been a backlash.

    Shame on them.