The Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) is calling for Irish bookmaker Paddy Power to withdraw their advertisement video for Cheltenham Ladies day. The group said the video, which was aired this weekend on Skysports, is offensive and “deeply transphobic”.
The advertisement begins with a reference to a Facebook comment on the Paddy Power's page. The user says, “Can’t wait to see some beauties at Cheltenham Ladies Day”.
The voiceover announces that the bookmaker plans to make this year’s event at the Cheltenham horse races “even more exciting by sending in some beautiful transgendered ladies”.
Race-goers are then invited to “spot the stallions from the mares”.
In a statement on their site, National Development Worker for TENI Vanessa Lacey said, “I've spent the weekend fielding calls and supporting people who are feeling mocked and ridiculed, and are deeply hurt by this. I cannot understand how Paddy Power think this is funny."
TENI’s Director, Broden Giambrone, said, “The situation in Ireland is that transgender people face a huge amount of marginalization…The longer that ad stays up, the longer it is causing harm. We want for Paddy Power to do the right thing and remove the ad and issue an apology."
Speaking to Journal.ie, Paddy Power’s head of communications said he was “surprised by the strong reaction” and added that the company “genuinely did not wish to cause offence”.
The bookmakers pointed out that several members of the transgender community in the UK had volunteered to take part in the advertisement and the ad had been cleared by the UK’s advertising standards NGO, Clearclast.
The advert is part of their new “We Hear You” campaign to show interaction with their social media users. They said that ad was meant to be “a bit of mild mannered fun” and added that the ad was not mocking trangender women, rather it “depicted transgender women as beautiful” and was making the point that you “wouldn’t be able to tell the difference”.
They have no plans to pull the advertisement.
Here’s the advertisement in question (below). Let us know what you think of it below.