In the Libra commercial, a drag queen character and a blonde woman are in a restroom, intently adjusting their make-up and sneaking glances at each other as they engage in a fierce competition that involves applying mascara, lip gloss and adjusting their bras.
The blonde woman is portrayed to wrap up victory by pulling out a tampon from her purse and the drag queen leaves the room defeated. The advert then reads: “Libra gets girls.”
The commercial – which was taken down after the criticism – was deemed “blatantly transphobic” by one rights group who said it implies that one can only be a woman if one menstruates. Moreover, it reinforces the stereotype that all transgender women are drag queens, one advocate also said.
“It's extremely offensive because it's pretty much saying the only way you can be a woman is to get your period,” Cherise Witehira, president of transgender rights group Agender NZ, said. “That's where a lot of the anger in the community is coming from.”
Many people have voiced their outrage on Libra’s Facebook page since the ad was launched on Dec. 21.
“Wow... I just saw your transphobic ad. What on earth is wrong with you? What made you think that mocking minorities is a reasonable advertising strategy,” one person, by the name of Sarah Belawski, wrote on Libra’s wall.
However, there appears to be a growing fringe of sympathisers.
“I haven't seen any television commercials on running shoes for a while in Australia. Is it because they fear it might offend amputees or those born without limbs?” posted someone by the name of Erick James.
“I have a few good trany mates. Wev'e seen the ad, and had a laugh about it. They said we stand our ground a lot stronger than an ad,” posted Luana Timms.
The man who was the drag queen in the advert defended the campaign, hitting out against "dragphobia", the New Zealand Herald reported.
(Editing by Rebekah Curtis)