A new campaign launched by Young Minds For Gender Equality aims to shine a spotlight on the pay gap between men and women in many workplaces, but has created a campaign that has left some members of the transgender community feeling insulted and under attack.
The Business Bulge is a 'product' that offers women the chance to level the playing field in the workplace, by making it look like the wearer has a penis. 'Finally, a solution that will get you the respect and salary you deserve' the advertisement claims.
This fake product is reported to be the 'satirical' work of Clark Hoffman and is intended to start a conversation about gender income equality. Hoffman says on the official website that 'The Business Bulge is a fictional product. What's not fictional is the fact that in 2016, women still earn less because of their gender. That's not just wrong. It's embarrassing. Politicians aren't addressing the problem, and CEO's need a reason to act'.
The gender pay gap is without a doubt a serious issue, and one that really does need talking about. But can we not find a way of bringing up the subject without using the 'satire' of a woman with a penis to do it?
The campaign makes the joke that a woman with a penis will get the 'respect and salary you deserve', well I'm sorry, but that argument is absolutely wrong. No. Never in a million years would that happen. Trust me, I am a woman with a penis.
In my last four jobs I experienced transmisogyny and hate in three of them. I was driven out of two of them and had to threaten to take one of them to court to get any semblance of justice. All of this, because I'm transgender.
Being a woman with a penis does not mean you get respect, if anything it strips you of it. Before I began to transition I was able to walk down the street without any issue, now when I go out people stare at me, they laugh and point, I've had people call me a freak, people have threatened me, I've been spat on. Perhaps you have a different view of respect than I do over at Young Minds For Gender Equality, but I don't see any of those reactions as respectful.
I do not get viewed as male by men, I do not get any of the privileges or respect that men get. Men (the one's who aren't trans allies) view me as either a freak or a sex object. I do not get paid the same as them because I have a penis, I am not respected by them because I have a penis. My penis makes me a target to them. I have had people literally threaten to beat, rape and murder me because I am a woman with a penis.
As for employment opportunities, the general public are unemployed at roughly 7%, trans people suffer unemployment at 14%. For those who can't do math, that's double. Trans people suffer unemployment at double the rate of the cisgender population. So please, tell me again how I'd have a better job because of my penis, because employers take one look at me as a trans woman and don't want to give me the chance of working with them.
Transgender people are also underemployed at 44%, and are four times more likely than cisgender people to have a household income of under £10,000. But sure, a woman with a penis will definitely get that pay rise, right?
As a trans woman who has been put in countless humiliating and threatening situations because she has a penis, who has lost jobs because she has a penis, who is struggling to find employment because of her penis, who is struggling to get benefits because of her penis, who is in debt and has literally not a penny to her name because of her penis I say this whole campaign is an insult.
The gender pay gap is important, I'm not saying it isn't, but does this campaign really have to mock people like me? Does it really have to make a joke out of trans women and make the central theme of it's campaign something that has caused so many trans women to be attacked, raped, murdered or to take their own life?
I know that some of the people reading this are going to turn around and throw the 'it's just a joke' or 'it's just satire' argument at me to deflect away from the real problems with this campaign, but you're missing the point completely.
My life, and the lives of every trans person, is not a joke. My unemployment is not a joke. My poverty is not a joke. There are so many other ways in which this group could have tried to raise the point of the inequality of the wage gap without resorting to 'ha ha tranny' comedy. It wasn't clever or funny when Sarah Silverman made the joke, it's not clever or funny now that you've copied it.
Young Minds For Gender Equality, please do one of two things.
1/ Learn that gender is more than just cis male and cis female, that gender is a spectrum, not a binary and figure out that 'jokes' and 'satire' like this discount people who don't fit into a binary system and mock their struggles.
2/ Change your name, because you have no right to say that you support gender equality when you throw trans people under the bus for cheap laughs.
Anyone who wishes to express their anger and disappointment at the Business Bulge campaign can contact Young Minds For Gender Equality can contact them via their Twitter page or by leaving a review on their Facebook page.