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Meteoric mistake


There’s a lot of ways to advertise data plans, I’m sure. Advertising is plainly not my thing, but I’ve seen enough of it to be well aware that there are many creative ways to sell just about anything. Which is why I’m not certain why Meteor decided to do what they did. When you’ve a world of possibilities to choose from, why would it seem like a good idea to mock marginalised groups of people? I can’t say I get it.


Image from amydentata.com/2012/10/09/onions-tend-to-stink/


Here’s the bit, by the way, where I let you know that there isn’t a link to an ad on this post because I have no intention of either sending them any more traffic, or of littering this corner of the web with transphobic nonsense. That’s not how I roll. However, a quick synopsis: the ad is about things you don’t have to do to get online on your phone. Like biking after a wifi-enabled bus. Or sneaking around your neighbour’s garden to steal their connection. Or going to your local trans and cross-dressing friendly bar.


What’s so funny?

Because, of course, there’s no way that a person would want to be in a place like that. And a place like that is almost empty, is populated by dour-looking queens who only perk up with a predatory smile when an internet-seeking innocent comes through the door, and whose patrons manage simultaneously to be caked in several layers of makeup and to have a strangely ubiquitous five o’clock shadow.

This might be the point where you tell me that I can’t take an innocent joke. If that’s the case, then this is the point where I tell you that I am entirely capable of taking a joke, as long as it’s funny. This isn’t funny. It plays to tired, pathetic stereotypes that I’ve heard too many times already. And it’s not innocent.

Trans Murders - for more go to www.transrespect-transphobia.org


Have you ever heard of trans panic? Based on the idea that trans people are somehow deceitful and predatory, the trans panic defense is something that’s been used successfully in court, time and time again, by people who have assaulted and killed trans people. An ‘innocent’ cis (‘not trans’) person is ‘tricked’ into having sexual contact- or even being attracted to- someone they later find out to be trans. The trauma of this sends them into a murderous rage. They get off lightly. This happens.

What about suicide? Did you know that trans people are significantly more likely than cis people to self harm and to attempt suicide? This happens.


Killer joke

And these things happen because our society sees trans people, particularly trans women, as less than cis people. As deceivers. As predatory. As somehow fake and overcompensating and pathetic at the same time. And these ideas, and their widespread acceptance, make life a hell of a lot more dangerous for people who are or are perceived to be trans.

Let’s get personal. I can talk about statistics or social phenomena all day. But social phenomena and statistics are things which describe real lives.

Many people who I love- dear friends, people I consider family, my gorgeous partner- are trans. People I love have been attacked, forced out of jobs, denied housing, and been driven to suicidal ideation and self-harm. While this ad is one little thing, it is a piece in a massive puzzle that combines to make a world where trans people are looked down on, villified, and victimised. The world is a more dangerous place for people I love because of things like this advertisement.


Image from jimdandy3.blogspot.ie

And I’m sick of it. I’m sick of knowing that I have to worry more about the people I love who are trans. I’m sick of a world that says that my partner isn’t someone worth desiring or loving, that says that people like her are deceptive by their very nature, that she is somehow less of a person than me. It chills me to think of how lucky my loved ones who are trans are to not be one of the too-many people who have taken their own lives because of transphobia and cissexism. It’s not a joke when the world is made more dangerous.

While this ad doesn’t directly advocate violence against trans people, it plays to precisely the same caricatures and stereotypes that do just that. And because Meteor don’t seem to see trans lives as important and real, it makes a joke out of them.

Until the day when the world is every bit as safe, warm and welcoming for trans people as it is for cis ones, I’m not going to get that joke.


Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) seeks to improve conditions and advance the rights and equality of trans* people and their families. Contact them online or +353 1 873 3575

To read their press release on this ad click here

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  • This ad infuriates me, and almost more infuriating is the way Meteor are handling this criticism. I complained about the blatant trans*phobia to them, and they responded by explaining drag culture to me. As they said themselves, drag needs an audience, and those tired and dangerous stereotypes in the bar were not performing to one in the scene. That’s not performative, that is offensive, and it makes me sick to my stomach that it’s still on the air

    Dolanchap said:
  • [...] October 16, 2012 by Aoife O'Riordan You know Meteor? They’re a mobile phone company here. They have some.. interesting ideas about how it’s appropriate to advertise data plans. There’s a lot of ways to advertise data plans, I’m sure. Advertising is plainly not my thing, bu… [...]

    #MeteorShame « Consider the Tea Cosy said:
  • To give Meteor a piece of your mind, tweet them at @meteor_mobile with the hashtag #meteorshame. Don’t let them get away with this!

    Aoife (author) said:
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VqOmsQrDp7E << the meteor ad, for those who haven't seen it.

    Eva said:
  • To be honest, when I saw this add I didnt really think too much about it. But reading this article Im like what how did I not see this viewpoint/feel it. Maybe its because being a gay woman, Im not majorly educated around Trans issues/discrimination Trans people face. For eg: I dont know any Trans people. No let me rephrase that. Im not close friends with any Trans people. Now thats just by coincidence I should add. I think that even though we are all part of the same community LGB and T, there still is a vast gulf between Gay, Lesbian and Bisexuals peoples understanding/integration with people who identify as Trans and this needs to change. After all, there is strength in numbers. If i was on Twitter, I would be tweeting Meteor myself and encouraging everyone, gay or straight, to do the same. Those of us who identify as Lesbian, Gay or Bisexual need to rid themselves of the ‘im alright jack’ mentality, and fight for Trans peoples rights aswell as our own.

    Kris said:
  • *ourselves

    Kris said:
  • Thanks for writing this. I don’t watch Irish TV or I would never have known.

    This is AWFUL.

    Canuckjacq said:
  • I am disgusted and appalled that this was an actual commercial. I realize that I live in that bubble known as the USA, but I had no idea that this kind of discriminatory advertising was allowed, if that is even the right word I’m looking for. I am a married bisexual, and it scares me to no end that my children are exposed to a world where excrement like that ad is deemed okay. My daughter is engaged to a wonderful transgendering woman, and I don’t understand how anyone has the right to make them feel any less human than a “traditional cis” couple. This is so distasteful that it is hard to wrap my mind around it. Thank you for making the rest of the world aware.

    Tammy H said:
  • Ok new to the debate but where does the word “cis” come from? I know its non trans but what does it mean and cissexism what does that mean?

    Nora said:
  • [...] Read ‘Meteoric Mistake’ on Gaelick.com [...]

    Campaign begins against “transphobic” Meteor advert | Krank.ie said:
  • Thank you for writing this article. Cissexist media needs to be called out, again and again, until the people who make it are held accountable.

    By the way, the first image is incorrectly attributed. It is from my blog, in a post that talks about a cissexist article in The Onion. http://amydentata.com/2012/10/09/onions-tend-to-stink/

    Could you update that attribution, please?

    Amy Dentata said:
  • In organic chemistry, “trans” are double-bonded carbon atoms where the first portion of the molecule is across from the other portion of the molecule. The opposite of this term is “cis”, where the two portions of the molecule are on the same side of the double-bond. The word “cissexism” is a portmanteau of “cis” and “sexism”. If you prefer to use the term “transgender”, another option might be “cisgenderism”.

    In a brief opinion, if someone’s ACTIONS make you uncomfortable, it may be acceptable to make their actions the butt of your joke. However, if someone’s BEING makes you uncomfortable, it is absolutely NOT ok to make that someone the butt of your joke.

    Thomas Marlowe, M.D. said:
  • Re the word Cis…can this be explained a lil simpler? Ive seen it now on two Gaelick artilces. Cheers

    Kris said:
  • ‘Cis’ means not-trans. Basically, cis is to trans as straight is to gay. Easy peasy :)

    Aoife (author) said:
  • Thanks for that definition

    Nora said:
  • Nora- I just realised you asked about cissexism as well. Basically, where transphobia is things that actively disparage trans people, cissexism is things which imply that being cis is more ‘normal’ than being trans. So if I say that we live in a cissexist society, I mean that we live in a society that assumes that absolutely everyone is cis and that we don’t need to take into account the needs of trans people. It’s often caused more by ignorance than malice, but it can still make life a whole lot more difficult for trans people.

    Hope that helps!

    Aoife (author) said:
  • Ok taking a risk here but to the ignorant and I am one does drag acts not confuse the issue and us ignorants in the process. It appears to make a laugh of it all and it honestly is what most people think of when they are talking about trans people… am I way out in thinking this way…awaiting to be corrected. Nora

    Nora said:
  • Nora: Yeaaaah, I’m going to correct you a bit on this one. Basically, there’s a whole massive spectrum of trans* identities and behaviours and all sorts. From cross-dressers to genderqueers to transgender to transsexual and, yep, lots of drag performers fit in there too. Drag can be a million and one things- some of which can be offensive, sure. But so many ways of doing drag can be awesome and creative and positive. And can also poke fun at us in affectionate, insider-ish ways.
    The other great thing about drag is that for a lot of people it can be a ‘safe’ space to start exploring around gender. Trying on different ways of presenting yourself. Seeing what works. Getting to do that in a place that is fun and creative and welcoming, where it is fine that it can be anything from a bit of fun to a long-term alter-ego to something totally revelatory about your own identity.

    Basically, drag can be awesome. And drag artists have been part of the LGBTQ community since forever. Going way back to the seriously badass drag queens at Stonewall, even.

    I think.. there’s a lot of things under the whole LGBTQetc umbrella that can seem a bit confusing at first glance. And y’know, that’s fine. People are complicated, no matter what categories we fall into! The thing is that confusing doesn’t necessarily mean bad, and I think it’s really important that we don’t not celebrate diverse identities just ’cause they can get confused. We’ve just gotta do a better job of education :)

    Aaaand that one turned into a cross between a novel and a manifesto, didn’t it?

    Aoife (author) said:
  • Aoife, would you mind if I totally copy- pasted that last comment onto my forehead or something? Yet again you have coherently expressed something I am constantly trying to say. You’re unreal.

    dolanchap said:
  • Thank you too aoife… I did realise that drag was a positive thing and get they whole insider thing… guess I just wanted to say its confusing…and thst its only the bad drag that gets media time and if I am confused and I really want to educate myself and my kids… I shudder to think what others allow themselves to think…
    Keep up the excellent writing I really love this site..

    Nora said:
  • Ps close family member secretly identifies as a woman in mans body…so am really trying to get a handle on this whole area so I can support him…( he wants to be called him as he is not going to do anything about it..yet) so sad that in a loving family we have two people who have to hide who they really are…

    Nora said:
  • @ Amy Dentata

    Sincere apologies for the mistake there, I’ve fixed it

    HAL said:
  • @Nora, there is a brilliant trans peer support group in Dublin and a bunch more around the rest of the country.


    I would highly recommend your trans* family member give one of these a try at least once. Really really helped me.

    I hope you can both support each other and maybe in time, you’ll feel ready to share these parts of yourselves with your family.

    Eebs said:
  • [...] help us speak out against Irish transphobic @Meteor_Mobile phone ad #meteorshame – more info: http://www.gaelick.com/2012/10/meteoric-mistake/29008/?doing_wp_cron#.UH09D6qcvKM.twitter … …Ugh, the comments I have to put up with. You think this is bad, you should see my inbox. [...]

    Los Links 10/17 said:
  • @Eebs thank you for your kind wishes and the info… really feel stronger each day with my own identity and this site is really really helping..

    Nora said:
  • Thanks! No worries, and keep fighting the good fight!

    Amy Dentata said:
  • Cheers Aoife for clearing that up!

    Kris said:
  • It’s hard to come by well-informed people in this particular topic, however, you
    seem like you know what you’re talking about!

    stainmaster carpet tampa said:
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