As part of its recently launched "The Truth's Not Always Easy" marketing campaign, nonprofit advertising watchdog organization Truth in Advertising advanced the trope that transgender people are inherently fraudulent.
The video spot features people openly divulging secrets they might not normally share. There's a man who admits to not returning shopping carts, a woman who cops to keeping a body in her car's trunk, and a woman with a husky voice who says, "You should know I'm a man before this goes too far," to a man as they sit on the edge of a bed.
The ad plays into a number of negative, false stereotypes about transgender women. Suggesting that a trans woman is "really a man" and playing on the notion that trans women try to trick straight men into sleeping with them is an extremely problematic trope that is actually the basis of the "trans panic" defense, in which a man will claim that he had no choice but to assault or murder a transgender woman because he wasn't aware of her trans status ahead of time.
"[There is] shameful irony of an organization that would use deception about transgender people to make a point about honesty in advertising," National Center for Transgender Equality director of communications Vincent Villano told The Advocate. "There's nothing truthful about Truth in Advertising's ad."
When confronted about the problematic aspects involved in this campaign, Truth in Advertising issued an apology, and the video is now listed as "private" on its YouTube page.
"While we attempted to use humor in our ad to engage consumers on the serious issue of misleading marketing, it was truly not our intention to negatively portray a transgender person," Truth in Advertising executive director Bonnie Patten told Zack Ford at ThinkProgress. "We sincerely apologize and are reviewing it now."
While misleading marketing may be a serious issue, so is how the public views transgender people. Every year, hundreds of transgender individuals are murdered worldwide. The belief that transgender women are just deceptive men — as this ad portrays them — only strengthens that belief.
Truth in Advertising's video can be viewed below: