Motorola pager
Page Fault

A transgender-themed ad for Moltorola pagers has got my dander up. The ad is genuine. It's from Australia, and appeared in a Fox "funniest commercials" program. Some people find the ad cute. I find it terribly offensive. Let me tell you why.

You can see the ad here http://youtube.com/watch?v=cJdY-KzXFbQ if you like. It goes like this.

A cute guy is dancing at a disco with a hot woman in a tight red dress. A voiceover says, "Believe it or not, guys do have a code of honor. So when they go on a skirt-chasing expedition, it's a man's job to protect his buddy's back—and backside."

The cute guy and the hot chick leave the club, jump in a taxi, and start making out. In the background a sexy male voice sings,
I never met a girl like you,
Make me feel the way you do,
You've got that special mystery,
A love like ours makes history.

The guy gets a page from his buddy, who saw him leaving the club. The guy jumps out of the cab, a look of panic and revulsion his face. We see that the page reads, "She is a he!" The Fox TV audience can be heard cracking up, as the Motorola logo comes up.

They tack on an extra kicker. As the cab pulls away, the guy gets another page. "Just kidding!" it says. Guys, huh?

As a transsexual woman, I do not find the ad amusing. That's my love life they're portraying, and it ain't a pretty portrayal. The ad implies normal guys will be shocked and repulsed when they learn of my medical history—and justifiably so, the ad would seem to say. The snickering audience apparently agrees. The ad not only offends me in a visceral sense, but it makes my life harder because it encourages men to reject me and ridicule me. In fact, that's the essence of what makes this and so many other trans-themed advertisements so objectionable, that they use the t-girl merely as an object of derision.

If you still think the ad is kind of cute and Lannie has no sense of humor, have you considered what they mean by the crack about protecting your buddy's "backside"? The chick has a dick and she's going to force the guy to have anal sex. Nice, huh? Trannies commit anal rape—no wonder guys are terrified of us.

I am also offended by the ad on another, more subtle level. At first, I considered whether the ad might have some redeeming value in presenting a positive image of a t-girl, if you can overlook the anal-rape thing. The t-girl is knock-out gorgeous, and passable enough to pick up guys in nightclubs. Oh, but wait a minute; there's that kicker. She's not a t-girl after all. Whew! Relax, Mr. John and Ms. Jane Q. Public, or Mr. and Mrs. Crocodile Dundee. You don't have to worry about being fooled by t-girls, because we don't really look that good. Ouch. And you know what? You can tell that the kicker was added on specifically because they decided they couldn't show a t-girl in a positive light. You can tell because at the beginning of the ad, when the buddy sees the guy leaving with the girl, the buddy is seriously concerned. He's not jealous, and he's not just planning a practical joke. He really thinks his buddy is leaving the club with an anal rapist.

Speaking of Crocodile Dundee, remember how that man's man learned to deal with t-girls in the first movie? Remember how Paul Hogan—he has a writing credit for the movie—demonstrated the proper way to play T or G, the game of trying to guess whether a woman is trans or genetic? Hogan grabs her crotch to see what she's got down there. Perhaps the Aussies simply aren't very enlightened about gender issues.

But let's get back to the pager ad. As a final point, I'm offended because they could have made a much funnier and more sensitive commercial with just a little effort. Suppose the ad went like this:

A cute guy is leaving a dance club with a hot woman in a red dress. They jump in a taxi and start making out.

The guy gets a page from his buddy. It reads, "She is a he!"

At first, the guy is startled. Then he takes a good, long look at the beautiful woman. A smile crosses his face. He goes back to making out with her, even more enthusiastically than before.

The woman gets a page. "He's married!" it says.

The woman has a look of indignation on her face as she watches the cab pull away.

Now there's a transgender-themed ad I could get behind, and I don't mean that in the anal-rape sense.

—Lannie Rose, 3/2005


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