No Comment: “Always”‘ Transphobic Drag Queen Ad

[Update: It seems the viral video was either a spoof or a potential ad that Always decided not to run. We apologize to Always, but still find the ideas behind the video--whoever made it--pretty offensive. Thanks to Ms. blog commenters for keeping us accurate!]

A viral video claiming to be an Always ad for menstrual pads manages to pack a walloping amount of insensitivity into just 47 seconds. The online clip opens with shots of drag queens weeping. Melancholy jazz floats through the background.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l50l2IUENRk&feature=player_embedded

There are some people who’d just love to have a period,” the screen reads. “Let alone a happy one.”

Cut to a near-hysterical drag queen, sobbing on the toilet. She slams the stall door shut, and the camera zooms in on the “gentlemen” sign. Get the punch line? They’re actually men!

First of all, let’s get something straight: Being transgender does not necessarily mean being a drag queen. Not all drag queens want to become biological women, as the ad seemingly suggests. Not all transgender people perform drag. There’s a difference.

And call me humorless, but I failed to see what’s funny about the supposed Always commercial given the real trauma that many trans people go through. A 2011 report by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force found that that 41 percent of surveyed transgender individuals had attempted suicide–a rate higher even than among the chronically depressed or members of the military. Being assigned to the wrong gender can be overwhelming on its own, only to be made far worse by the harassment and discrimination suffered by 90 percent of transgender people. That someone would attempt to make light of this very real and everyday suffering is pretty horrifying.

I still hate getting my period. But now I hate the creators of this video too, for mocking others’ hardship to sell me a pad.

Comments

  1. I agree that this is an offensive, patronizing ad on several levels, and should be critiqued as such. I wrote about it yesterday at re:Cycling, the blog of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.

    But there is some debate over whether this is really an ad produced by/for Procter & Gamble, or someone’s idea of a clever spoof. P&G has repeated denied ownership and/or affiliation.

    Leo Burnett UK told blogger Jane Fae last night that it was actually a test film produced internally, never intended for public release.

  2. Apparently it’s a spoof: http://www.tweetdeck.com/twitter/PGNewsUK/~HXXST But they haven’t taken any action against the makers of it as far as I know.

  3. Amanda Ivey says:

    Agreed with Elisabeth. A statement from ProctorGamble said:

    “We can confirm that this is not a P&G commissioned campaign. We have the utmost respect for the consumers we serve and we do not agree with the way our brand has been portrayed in this spoof video.”

    Phew.

  4. ALL pad and tampon ads annoy me. They’re sexist, obnoxious and irritating–and apparently transphobic now too. The only good one I’ve ever seen is by Kotex. I’m going to buy Kotex from now on–Always pads suck, anyway. And don’t even get me started on those ‘mother nature’ Tampax commercials. In fact, there’s a really good article on them over at the fbomb, if you can find it.

  5. I already hated Always. “Have a happy period”? Yeah right…

  6. So now that we know this was a spoof of an Always ad and not actually an Always ad, should Christie change the text of her post? I hate to see the company beat up for something it did not do.

  7. Horrible.
    Almost as bad as the disposable pad industry itself.

  8. considering that this fake ad appears to be created by real transgendered people, i don’t think your argument holds much water.

    • There’s no evidence that this film was cast with real transgender people. Quite likely these are actors who dragged up for the roles. However, whether or not the film features four or five real trans people or not changes nothing though, in the face of the outrage is has caused.

      Equally, if the film DOES feature genuine transvestites or drag queens, it is possible that they felt able to take part because unless you are transsexual you may not understand the horrific pain of living a life with debilitating gender dysphoria. Trans people come in many varieties. Drag queens and transsexual people are entirely different.

      This film has caused a great deal of offense very widely. Transsexual people have been extremely upset to see their genuine, life threatening distress used as a source of humour and ridicule in public. Once again

Speak Your Mind

*