Wednesday, January 4, 2012

the libra tampon ad

drag queen walks into a powder room, gets into a little cat fight with a very similar looking (if shorter) woman. they compare eyelashes, lipgloss and tits, before the woman offers the drag queen a tampon.

she stalks off in a huff.

logo comes up: libra gets girls.

implication? well, that is where it all went wrong. apparently with that tag line libra is saying if you don't bleed you are not a woman. (where as i thought they were saying if you are a drag queen, ie. a guy, you don't need libra). this has offended post menopausal women, women who don't bleed for some other reason, and more peculiarly, a group of "transgender" people.

i'm going to talk about the last lot, since i'm post operative transsexual. i had my boy bits consigned to history a long time ago and now live as a (trans) woman. i'm out and proud (since otherwise i'd be hiding in a cupboard and paranoid) in a small-town community.

i'm not offended. why should i be? it doesn't take bleeding to make a woman. ask my mum.
that's not what this ad is about. its about a drag queen in a cat fight.

this is my defenition:

transwomen are women who got born in the wrong body, and who decided to do something about it.

pretty simple, huh. it will probably cause a storm of debate but i like simple.

unfortunately theres tons of plain weird people who like to play with a TG (transgendered) identification and want it to cover everything from androgony to cross dressing for sexual kicks and they've pulled transpeople into this debate by claiming to speak for us, and getting upset on our behalf.

in _my_ privileged, post op, actually feel i am a woman and always was so i did something about it (after trying and giving up on the alternative) point of view, if you are not a woman in your head/heart and you don't want to at least live as a woman, then you are not transgendered. trans is a very specific prefix. it means:


Denoting or relating to a molecular structure in which two
particular atoms or groups lie on opposite sides of a given plane in the...: "the trans isomer of stilbene"
ie. opposite.

if you want to be a male who has a penis and uses it like a man does, it doesn't matter what you are wearing, to me, you are a guy. Drag Queens, sexually fetishitic TV and Crossdressers fall into this bracket. you could be a 'meta' sexual, i guess. (beyond). androgyny can fit in there too.

unfortunately a whole lot of these 'meta' people want to claim legitimacy by jumping under a transgendered 'umbrella' and calling some kind of alliance with transpeople. (excluding transpeople who are transitioning , who pass through various stages on the way)

flame away, TG community.

and these guys have been causing the trouble. on MY behalf, they've been saying that the 'trans community' is offended and disgusted and will die of suicide and murder because of this advert. ridiculous.

firstly. lets look at who is in this advert: a drag queen, and a 'cis-woman' (this is what the transcommunity is supposed to call women, to differentiate them from transwomen) (i'm assuming she actually is. it can be hard to tell some times).

obvious portrayal of a transwoman? nope. gee, look, the title is "tampons drag it".

i polled my TG 'support group'. funnily enough, no drag queens were offended. that's because there were none in the group. Drag Queens, on the whole, identify as gay males. Sandee Crack (one of the stars of the advert) is unapologetically a Drag Queen. Drag Queens generally don't identify as transwomen and vice versa. it may be a secret fear for some transwomen (oh my god, i look like a drag queen, i better hide in a cupboard) but if you've got any sense you get over it and don't behave like one.

incidentally. drag queens 'caricature'  women. they over do it. its funny, and act. transwomen may accidentally overdo it, in their quest to 'be' female, but hopefully they get over it and just start being.

so. are we really 'sure' this is a drag queen? (apparently some TG peeps were in doubt). taking hormones (turning off testosterone production prior to orchidectomy and taking oestrogens and progesterones) has a huge effect on your body. it shows. the queen in the ad does not exhibit any signs of hormonal manipulation. so, either a really new transitioning female (in which case she wouldn't have got into that cat fight) or, a drag queen. the makeup and shadow's a bit of a clue, too. yes, in my younger days i'd put on some glitter and lashes, but that was in places were the other girls were dressed up the same, so it was not over the top... fitting in...

where have we got to?

oh yes. what is this all about? why are some TS folk, and a lot of TG folk getting offended for themselves, or on my behalf?

i think it is down to fear.

its a big thing to change gender. a big thing. it took me years to deal with it. i became a goth so i'd have an excuse to wear skirts and makeup (which i practiced in secret from the age of 12). i'd known since i was 4, so puberty was a bitch. I was unaware it was even possible to change until i was in my 20s. i thought i just had to deal with what i'd been given, and even tried being a guy for a few years. (with increasing stress and drug reliance to stop the suicidal urges). when i finally went for it, having discovered a source of hormones and with a lot of support, it was petrifying. i was scared of rejection, scared of violence and scared of looking like a man in drag. and, at 6 foot tall, i probably looked quite a lot like a man in drag. going to the toilets in bars and clubs was a minefield. some women would have a go. (and i'd avoid them or defend my rights), some women would mock (i'd ignore them). most would ignore me. i learnt to not make too much eye contact and be a mouse. probably didn't help! no one called the cops on me (my greatest early fear).

still. being who you are, not pretending anymore, gives you a bit of a boost, and i know i looked fabulous in my favourite short sparkly dress.

(nowadays, if anyone gives me any shit, i'd either give them some back, or say 'bitch' under my breathe)

so, i can understand that toilet dynamics are a scary area for transwomen, and perhaps that's what's caused the issue. "we are scared that we look like guys in drag when we use the loo and this advert has triggered that fear"?

so instead of facing up to the truth, they've got all cognitively dissonant about it and decided to try and silence the stimulus instead of accepting their fears?

who knows? who knows the motivation of the non-transwomen who have got offended on my behalf?

at any rate, they've decided this ad is transphobic and become very vocal about it.

and now i'm annoyed!

i live in a small town. i've been here 8 years. when i first arrived, the general consensus was that transwomen (ie, me) were gay men. last week, i'd say the general opinion is that i'm flow, and i'm a transexual woman. a few of the more closeted boys still have an issue, but most people accept me for who i am.

so, through years of being me, and being part of my community, i've achieved a small thing.

and then the bitching and complaining whinging TGs messed it all up. they got upset about an advert with a DRAG QUEEN in it, and plastered all over the internet the idea that GAY MEN are TRANSWOMEN.

fuck. FAIL.

i tried to argue on facebook about this, but this 'transgender umbrella' kept being waved in my face. it wasn't until later that i thought about the logical fallicay of the umbrella. anyone know set theory? the larger set (the umbrella) contains many sub sets (seemingly whoever it is that wants to be). one small sub set of this is featured in an advert. suddenly it is claimed that this reflects on the entire super set, and therefore me, off in my own little TS world and quite unaffected by the advert, am pulled into a claim that another (unaffected) subset have been discriminated against, despite the fact that the original set (the drag queens) think the whole thing is hilarious.

this is nonsense. the complainer's have simply projected their own fears and prejudice onto this advert, then twisted it to their own ends.

here's my original reaction:

serena (New Zealand)
10:55 AM Tuesday, 3 Jan 2012
The trans community is not speaking for me here. (I'm a 10 years post-operative transwoman)

the character is clearly a drag queen, the advert is gentle and funny, and a whole lot of people need to lighten up, they are NOT helping the trans community in any way be being up in arms about nothing.
How can people be "disgusted and offended" by this? next they'll get upset by knicker and bra adverts.
I'd love to be able to disown the lot of them.

fortunately, the NZ public is fairly sane. this is the most liked comment, so i know i'm not out on my own.

here's a quote from our TG group:
NZ thinks the trans community are a bunch of insecure, humourless fucks now, for fuck's sake the ad was not the Hell's Pizza ad. We did not have the moral high ground here so poor disaffected, white hetrocentric, middle class, middle aged male NZ jumped all over this, using it as an excuse to bash the PC brigade. The rednecks won this one. 

i've been trying to talk sense, eventually got this advice:

Give up Flow while you are ahead these folks see discrimination around every corner and if there is none they will turn it into a drama.

pretty much says it all. 

and from libra's facebook page:

to me it seems it is the transgender people themselves complaining that have made people think transgender people are in fact drag queens, I find the whole thing a little bizarre

to recap. funny ad turns nasty.  understanding of transgendered women rolls back 10 years as everyone now thinks we are drag queens.


  1. Hi I hear you, it really has gotten out of control now hey!!

    I understand your reasoning sorry If I gave you some stick on the libra page. Mostly I was reacting to all the transphobia reaction to the "offended" posts.

    OMG I didn't reaslise how much hatred was out there...on both sides. Our family live in a bit of a bubble I think!!!

    I do think the add could have been done differently , my friend had a good suggestion,given the drag girl a different dress, had the other girl have an empty packet of tampons and the drag girl reach into her shoulder and pull out a pad. still funny but inclusive, and no one "loses". either that or have a more obvious male in drag.

    your story sounds very similar to my daughters, btw.
    I think it was me who waved the umbrella at you, sorry about that and none of us in the family are members of any groups in that "umbrella"


  2. truce.

    here are Sandee's words. she's great.

    My name is Sandee Crack. I am the drag queen that you have all seen in the Libra commercial that has been shot down by some of the transgender community.

    I would firstly like to state that I am in fact a gay man that dresses in drag as a performer. I have been doing so for many years and will continue to do so. I have never considered myself to be transgendered and never will do. When I was presented with the Libra commercial and saw it as a great opportunity to participate in a positive step towards acceptance for drag queens & gay men among the wider community. Libra were both sensitive, professional and accepting of my needs as a drag queen & as a gay man throughout the production process. I never felt for one moment that I would be depicted as a trans woman, nor do I believe that I have been. We consciously kept my arm hair, chose strapless dresses to accentuate my broad shoulders and if you look carefully you will notice my stubble is slightly visible. They also ensured I looked much taller than the girl next to me. I was shown the ad prior to release and I was thrilled with it. I have received enormous support from both transgendered, gay & straight individuals from all over the World since the ad was released in New Zealand. I believe strongly that by putting a drag queen into the mainstream media, we are one step closer to acceptance and this is something I am very proud to be part of.

    Unfortunately, a small portion of the trans community have chosen to view the ad as a personal attack on their fight to be viewed as equal women within society. This is a fight I also feel strongly about and I hope to help educate the wider community on. However, I feel hurt that representing myself as a drag queen on television and playing out a common place scenario in my life has lead to a clear "Dragphobia" among some transgendered individuals who wish to pull the plug on something that reflects true honesty about the life of a drag queen. A drag queen is a man in women's clothing and if that offends a trans woman I am afraid I cannot apologise, as by doing so I am apologising for being me.

    I hope that the campaign goes to air in Australia, it would be an enormous step forward for Australia and for the World.

    Thank you


      For Flow

  3. Its a shame Sandee looks so good in a dress? lol Looked at through Drag Queen eyes the ad is very funny but so many people interpreted it wrong, myself included I am surprised at how many,it doesn't seem wholly the transgender community but friends family and supporters from what I can gather from reading the boards all day. I Hope in some way this brings a better awareness and some much needed education in the community. I gather a lot of anger out there is not so much about people being offended by the ad ,but a minority's right to remove the fun from the majority.

  4. you are nothing short of fantastic Flow. i didnt actually realise what you went through when u moved to this small town though i know there are many, very closed minded people here. meeting and knowing you has helped me realise that everyone is the same (and awesome) and the only reason i didnt realise it way before now is coz im still a baby in the world (love having that excuse lol) thanks for helping me be more worldly before i go off into the huge wide world.
    p.s i love reading things ur posts. u have such a groovy way of thinking XD

  5. i like you summer_knight! thanks for your kind words, and awesome attitude. i'm pretty touched that you think i've helped you be more worldly, it is really good to hear stuff like that. i think i might even cry a little!
    hope you have fun in the world, its a pretty rocking place... (although hoki is the best part of it!)

  6. It all boils down to respect.I feel that sometimes what people say are so stupid that we do not have to say anything.But that is wrong we have to react or else it will be fact.You go girl!I admire you.

  7. Thanks Flow for your well considered post.
    I thought the ad was very funny, and that Sandee was clearly a drag queen and most likely not on a trans journey. ( I have trans friends, women and men, and also drag queen mates and drag king buddies but am no expert) .
    I fall into the group who were pissed about the inference that if you don't bleed you are excluded from the girl/woman club. Which, as you stated, is deliberately not your focus here. Although I do think there are some implications for my trans woman friends.
    I absolutely respect your take on this, and You ave certainly taught me a little more.

  8. Unfortunately there are a number of false assumptions in this blog. The first being that the wider society understands the differences between Drag Queens on the one hand and Transsexual on the other and every variance between. This is simply not so! When they see a man dressed in a skirt they assume Drag Queen and transgender ... this is the linkage that has been created since the very early days in the 60s. Our challenge is to educate people of the differences and that being Trans*, Intersex or gender variant are so so much more than just putting a dress on or in the case of transmen wearing mens clothing.

    Transgender is the most misunderstood and misused label around the world and there are many who are moving away from it and to something along the line of Trans. In the case of transsexuals we do not change our gender rather most seek to realign their bodies with their true identity. It is also import to accept that one's gender is not determined by what is between one's legs and there should be no 'privilege' claimed for those that are prep, post op or those for whatever reason do not seek to reassignment surgery.

    In all of these issues we must look from the point of view of the wider society rather than from within our communities. Flow you are like many of us who are able to go about where we live and be accepted as the gender we present but for many this is not the case for a whole range of reasons and the only way that they will be able to do so if society as a whole accepts those who are Trans*, Intersex or Gender Variant!

  9. you make a lot of assumptions, Jade.
    you also demonstrate the falsity of the orignal complainants. just because you have difficulty differentiating between drag queens and transsexuals, does not mean the everybody does. as i pointed out, bitching about it serves only to reinforce the very confusion we wish to eliminate. drag queens are not transsexual, so why the fuss?
    i was clear on what makes a trans person. intention is everything. as i said.
    you also assume i 'pass', when i've quite clearly said i am 'out'. i don't 'pass' at all. i'm quite clearly something other than male or female. its simply reality. i was born male, and i felt female. so i changed. i am NOT born female, and to expected to be accepted as such strikes me as delusional. perhaps if i was shorter and prettier and my voice had never broken... getting upset that i cannot bleed would also show delusion. i can't. and never will. if i let that upset my self-image, then i'm failing to be mentally well.
    looking at the point of view of 'wider' society. MOST people i know had no doubts as to the gender identity of the drag queen in this advert. I saw no rejection of the individual at any stage during the advert - surely a key sign of 'phobia'. indeed, the whole situation was very accepting.
    if we are to be accepted, then we need to be well adjusted. running from our fears and projecting them everywhere doesn't help.
    when i was first changing, if i hear a group of youth's laughing, i would assume they were laughing at me, and act accordingly. they'd pick up on it and then it would go bad. Now, i know better.
    this ad was targeted at, named after and featured DRAG QUEENS.
    to take an unproven fear - namely that people can't tell the difference - project it out onto an unknown viewing audience and then start shouting about it merely served to make things worse. remember, this advert featured a man in a dress in girl's toilet, and no fuss was made. no matter how touchy you may be, that in itself should make trans people with the most appalling self-image realise that acceptance is growing.

  10. Firstly, as a Post op Transwoman I have absolute no difficulty differentiating between Drag Queens and Trans* so you are making very wrong assumptions too. What I did say was that many in the wider society, i.e. those out west in Sydney etc have been bought up will little understand of the differences between drag and trans. It is also further complicated by those who cross dress.

    I did not assume that you pass, if you reread what I said "Flow you are like many of us who are able to go about where we live and be accepted as the gender we present". Clearly it was about acceptance not passing.

    The ad was definitely not targeted at Drag Queens ... it was targeted at Libra's key market segments who buy these products ... basic marketing 101, sorry. It is also why their market research based on their target markets, did not show up the potential for what has happened not to mention the impact of the tag line "Libra gets the girls".

  11. Jade. i said 'targets', since we were talking about transphobia. the the target of the humour in the ad was a drag queen. i was notin any way talking about the target audience, or do you take me for an idiot?

    i don't know where you get your idea about the wider community from. i asked mine. i was attempting to highlight that the assumptions we make about other people's perceptions instead highlight our own fears.

    indeed, acceptance is not about passing. its about being confident about who you are, and that requires an acceptance of reality. if transpeople cannot accept they do not bleed, and deal with it, then they are doomed, firstly in their own heads, and then by those that have to live with them.

    please, before you continue, re-read what i have said. thanks



      i made a long reply, but it got lost in the ether. i guess that means it is time to stop arguing, as its not helping.

    3. I tried to message you in FB but couldn't.

  12. "it shows. the queen in the ad does not exhibit any signs of hormonal manipulation. so, either a really new transitioning female (in which case she wouldn't have got into that cat fight) or, a drag queen. the makeup and shadow's a bit of a clue, too."
    That is absolute bullshit. There are trans women who take hormones for years with very little facial change.
    There are trans women who don't/can't take hormones for various reasons.
    There are trans women who have "shadow" (because they can't afford electro, because they didn't shave, because they don't care about shadow).
    There are trans women who wear intense makeup when they go out. And not as you suggest because they don't know "better" but because they want to.
    This idea that you can tell by looking who is a trans woman is wrong. Trans women come in all different looks.

  13. Sandee's comment that " I never felt for one moment that I would be depicted as a trans woman, nor do I believe that I have been. We consciously kept my arm hair, chose strapless dresses to accentuate my broad shoulders and if you look carefully you will notice my stubble is slightly visible. They also ensured I looked much taller than the girl next to me." is extremely cissexist. That it is "obvious" she is a drag queen and not a trans woman because of these things. Well plenty of trans women have arm hair, have visibly broad shoulders (and shouldn't be shamed into hiding them, are taller and have stubble sometimes. So what? That doesn't make someone not a trans woman.


please be nice.