Is This Libra Tampon Ad Really Transphobic?

A television ad for Libra Tampons has been pulled after complaints that it is transphobic. The ad, which appeared on New Zealand television, shows a draq queen and a woman at the bathroom mirror of a bar or nightclub freshening up. Take a look:

The president of Agender NZ, Cherise Witehira, said people in the transgender community saw the ad as “blatantly transphobic”. She said, “It’s extremely offensive because it’s pretty much saying the only way you can be a woman is to get your period. That’s where a lot of the anger in the community is coming from – it’s saying you are not a woman unless you can get your period.”

That response feels a little like mountain-out-of-molehill territory to me. The messages that can also be taken from the ad are:
Women Are Better At Getting Periods Than Drag Queens. That’s about it. The ad basically reminds us that drag queens are just as competent at ‘being chicks’ as most people with female reproductive organs.
Drag Queens / Transgender People Who Identify As Female Belong In The Female Toilets. In the ad it’s no big deal that a drag queen is using (what is clearly) the female bathrooms. I actually think that it is a subtle, really positive message about respecting gender identity.
Menstruating Is Not Something Women Celebrate. Have you ever had your period? It’s no picnic, let me tell you. When the girl in the ad gets the tampon out of her handbag, her expression says that she is less-than-stoked about needing to use it; It’s not like she whips it out grinning, shouting “IN YOUR FACE YOU UTERUS-FREE WANNABE” while waving the tampon like a winner’s trophy. I feel like grabbing the drag queen and saying “Honey, be glad you don’t have your period. It means ruined summer holidays, increased fear of shark attacks and unwanted investing in Nappy San, not to mention terrible cramps, no sex, haywire emotions and BLOOD IS DRIPPING OUT OF YOU.”

In addition to this, the character in the ad is obviously (and intentionally supposed to be) a drag queen as opposed to a pre- or post-op transwoman. I would imagine that quite a few transwomen and drag queens both would be offended by Agender NZ’s accusation that drag queens and transgender women are interchangeable gender identities!

I see no malice toward transgenders or intentional transphobic messages in this Libra ad – although it’s definitely not as good as this one which blatantly suggests that men are idiots. (I don’t think it received complaints from men’s groups.)

If anyone should take offense to this commercial, it is because of the way women are being portrayed here – as bitchy social competitors.

In the end this is not a great campaign concept regardless of how you choose to interpret it.

Via NZ Herald