So the Paddy Power ad campaign is all just a bit of fun? Just for laughs?
Sadly, the evidence already beginning to come in is just the opposite – and pretty much in line with fears expressed at the supposedly more “alarmist” end of the spectrum.
Earlier this week, a trans woman flew into London, where she stayed overnight in a reasonably upmarket hotel.
Yesterday, at breakfast, two of the waiters huddled together, staring at her. Shortly after they were joined by two more staff. One of them pointed.
As she explained later, she knew she’d been ‘read’. However, the last thing she expected was for a young Spanish waiter to be pushed forward. He came over and asked her if she was in the Paddy Power advert.
He was speaking with sufficient lack of concern for her privacy that other guests were able to hear and, as a result, two business executives sat next to her loudly asked to be moved to a new table.
All’s well that ends well – in this case. She complained to management and says that, to the hotel’s credit, the management hit the roof, cancelled her bill and offered 7 free nights to be taken whenever she wished. She was also left with an impression that the waiter in question might shortly be looking for a new job.
For that reason – the hotel’s prompt and positive handling of the matter – she does not wish to name the chain involved or the location where the incident took place.
In a separate incident yesterday, a trans woman who has passed several trouble-free years since transition was cut up by a motorist on the M25. There was some minor damage to her car.
The culprit sped off without stopping. She had an inkling that he might have been ever-so-slightly the worse for drink. However, it was his parting shot that left her shocked and frightened.
For he wound down his window and shouted at her: “Are you a fucking man or a woman?”
No evidence at all that this was directly related to the Paddy Power ad: and it has been a fortnight when trans has been much in the news. Still, it is worrying.
Back to the hotel incident: as the victim in this case explained later, many of the “just a laugh” brigade will still be puzzled by all of this. After all, there was no violence: nothing.
Except that paid staff thought it was OK to humiliate her with impunity.
Translate that encounter to another location. A badly-lit street in Cheltenham, say, with a crowd of sozzled racegoers who have just lost all their cash and are in the mood to take their angst out on someone else…and the dangers should be evident to all.
A lot of us will be keeping an eye out for incidents of this sort over the next few days. Trans Media Watch for one – and they will be compiling a dossier to pass to the ASA. Press for Change, too. And me.
If I hear of enough of these incidents, don’t imagine that I will be doing anything less than pulling them together and dropping the stories – as anonymised as those who have endured the experiences wish – on the laps of a host of sympathetic MP’s.