Knowing the way the combination of the trans community and social media work, I suspected the recent Libra Tampons Commercial was always likely to provoke strong feelings and go viral . I’d been inundated with links about it from all the usual suspects for several days.
I personally don’t agree with the idea that the trans community should not make a fuss over something like this because it’s ‘nothing much’ or just ‘meant to be a joke’ or it’s ‘on the other side of the world’ … and if we do we will not be taken seriously. The histories of racism and homophobia are littered with examples of apparently small incidents which many claimed got ‘blown out of proportion’.
I believe there are serious issues underlying this ad. However there’s also a simple truth here which cannot be denied. No matter what the merits or demerits of this particular piece of media … no matter what any of us think about it … the row over it has raised awareness that there is an issue concerning trans people and the media. People who previously and demonstrably had never considered there might be such an issue or a danger of hurting or offending real people … even readers of the Daily Mail … have had their first indication that there is.
We tend to become very wrapped up in our own little trans community and imagine other people are either as positively or negatively obsessed about it as we are. In reality they are barely aware of it unless their world accidentally collides with ours when they may well respond aggressively to something they find disquietingly unfamiliar. If we are ever to create a positive and supportive world for trans kids to grow up in, that’s the first hurdle to get past. In my view we need to use whatever tools are gifted to us in order to achieve this.