Company scraps 'disgusting' ad featuring Caitlyn Jenner
Ever since Caitlyn Jenner graced the cover of Vanity Fair in June, she's been the butt of a host of jokes, ranging from sexist slights about her body to a $75 Halloween costume marketed to cisgender men. With Christmas around the corner, a New Zealand company decided to exploit the Olympian's iconic image to offer well wishes for the holidays, with text many found offensive.
The billboard, which featured Jenner in her Vanity Fair bustier and a Photoshopped-on Santa hat. "I hope your sack is fuller than mine this Christmas. Merry Christmas from Cranium," read the accompanying copy.
"It was absolutely disgusting," Rebecca Jones, mother of a nine-year-old transgender boy and a member of a transgender support group, told Stuff.co of the advertisement. "Transgender people aren't to be ridiculed."
Jones and her support group contacted the billboard's creators, Auckland-based outdoor advertising firm Cranium Signage, and requested they remove the ad from the suburban neighborhood of East Tamaki. The company responded by covering the billboard in black and labeling it "censored."
"We apologize to all those who have been offended by our sign. It was very poor judgement on our part," Cranium posted on Facebook Wednesday. The also made a donation to Rainbow Youth, a local LGBT advocacy organization.
But earlier communications between an upset parent and the company director, Phillip Garratt, showed little sympathy for concerns that the ad promoted transphobia.
"I have gay and transgender friends. I think you may need to take a look at yourself and relax a bit and not take life so seriously," Garratt wrote in an email response to a complaint, which Jones posted on Facebook. Straining credulity, he claimed the ad "was referring to a Santa sack and your sick mind is the problem."
Cranium's commenters are split down the middle, with some who say they identify as transgender seeming humor in the ad, and others warning that jokes like this one further stigmatize an already marginalized group.
Transgender individuals face discrimination from access to healthcare to employment to the criminal justice system, as well as disproportionately frequent violent attacks. A 2014 study from the University of Auckland found that nearly 40 percent of transgender youth were severely depressed, and were five times more likely to experience bullying than their peers.
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