Off-Topic: Taco Bell’s Transphobic Radio Commercial

[This post is off-topic, as it doesn’t involve games, social media, or virtual worlds.  However, I have yet to see this reported on the web – so I feel compelled to bring attention to it.]

Taco Bell logo

Taco Bell logo

On my morning drive yesterday, I heard a radio commercial for Taco Bell that aggravated the heck out of me.  I have Googled to the best of my ability and I am unable to find any information on this commercial, such as a transcript, to share with you all.  The general gist of the commercial is as follows:

Some male tells a female (presumably his wife or girlfriend) that it’s a surprise that there is nacho cheese in a layer of the Taco Bell burrito.  The woman responds with “Well, I have a surprise for you.  I was born male, my name was Claudio” and her voice is lowered several octaves.  After which, the male says “Ew.”

This is yet another example of media and marketing finding it “funny” that someone has transitioned from male to female.  Using someone’s transgender status as being a punchline, just a funny joke to sell products.  Couple that with the male responding “ew” to her coming out as transgender, which is a completely hurtful response to someone who discloses their assigned sex to someone.  These aren’t jokes to people like Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado, who was decapitated, dismembered and burned for being a MTF transsexual.  How about Gwen Araujo or Angie Zapata?  Someone said “ew” to them and then decided to kill them because their gender identity threatened the offender’s sexual orientation and comfort in society.

How much longer are we going to consider people who are transitioning as taboo and gross?  When will media realize that their normalization of transphobia makes the opinion even more widespread that transsexuals are disgusting and misleading people instead of human beings?

To contact Taco Bell about this and tell them why this is WRONG and HATEFUL:
Contact Website
Yum! Brands Media Inquiries – 502-874-8200

About Tami Baribeau

Lead Editor and co-founder of The Border House, feminist, gamer, lover of social media, technology, and virtual worlds. Pansexual, equestrian, dog lover, social game studio director and producer. Email me here and follow me on Twitter!
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25 Responses to Off-Topic: Taco Bell’s Transphobic Radio Commercial

  1. thanks for sharing this. i usually don’t listen to the radio anyway, but i’m glad someone is bringing attention to this. it’s unacceptable that this is still happening. but i suppose taco bell figures transphobia is totally okay for the sake of selling a burrito…

  2. rho says:

    That sort of thing tends to happen a lot, yeah. Most of the times that I’ve seen, when the perpetrators receive complaints about it they tend to go with either “but it was only a joke!” (I’m not laughing) or “but it doesn’t hurt anyone!” (by which they mean “it doesn’t hurt me”) as there response.

    This is why I consider it so important for me to be out and proud. I think that raising visibility is the only way that stuff like this is going to go away. It’s also why I totally understand why other transfolk want to go stealth and disappear off the radar, so they don’t have to deal with it.

    • oliemoon says:

      One of the things that really gets under my skin about the whole “It’s just a joke!” defense (beyond the obvious fail) is that even if we do take it at face value as a joke and nothing more, it’s not even remotely a GOOD joke. It’s totally unoriginal and overdone. Jokes about transwomen are made every day, all the time (David Letterman anyone?) – there is nothing remotely clever or funny about making a stale joke that everyone has already heard a hundred times over.

  3. Thefremen says:

    I listen to talk radio all the time but never have heard this one. I’m guessing they know enough not to try this pitch on Liberal Talk radio.

  4. Gunthera1 says:

    What a cruel and hateful ad. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

  5. I’m glad you blogged about this – and that your readers twittered and retweeted. I heard this commercial a few days ago and was appalled, and meant to blog about it myself. I’ll remember to do so, now.

    Epic fail, Taco Bell.

  6. Alexandra says:

    Ugh, this ad is just the latest capper on the media’s virulently transphobic week. The Amanda Simpson news really brought out some nasty stuff. :(

    A small wording quibble: I would suggest saying “assigned sex” rather than “biological sex.” “Biological sex” is not as cut-and-dried a concept as most people assume. Referring to the sex assigned at birth by the doctor is more specific, and avoids the oft-misused “bio-“.

  7. koipond says:

    *sigh* Ad needs a little bit of a shoryuken.

  8. Sara says:

    I wrote to them just now. Thanks for providing the feedback link – made it easy to write a letter.

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  10. Ava says:

    You guys know that Taco Bell is managed by PepsiCo Restaurant International, right? Not that it makes stuff like this acceptable.

    Incidentally, they also run KFC and Pizza Hut (makes sense I guess).

    I really am sick of this kind of crap though.

  11. Sterkworks says:

    Unbelievable. Thanks for sharing this.

  12. Pingback: Taco Bell Acts Quickly to Remove Transphobic Radio Ad :

  13. Kelly Moyer says:

    Just to let people know, it sounds like constructive contact w/ Taco Bell paid off. GLAAD and one of the trans advocates in my area both called, and it sounds like the Taco Bell folks really didn’t realize that the ads would be offensive or contribute to prejudice, and they’re theoretically already working on pulling the campaign off the air. There should be a statement available within the next few days.

  14. Maud says:

    Came here via Shakesville. Thanks for posting contact info; I’ve emailed them. I’m glad to hear they’re rethinking this ad, but it’s sad how many still seem to think trans people are like leprechauns or something – not actual people who can be harmed, who have friends and family who will be offended, and that companies will thereby lose business.

  15. Sarah says:

    I’ve had to listen to this commercial on the radio for the last two weeks at work and am appalled that it even exists. When I searched for it this is the first site to come up bringing attention to the issue. I am also shocked there hasn’t been a stronger reaction as it is really very rude and anti-transgender … maybe it’s because the “Ewww” at the end is really short and practically cut off at the end. Taco Bell deserves negative press for this.

  16. Sarah says:

    The ad is still playing in Boise, Idaho as of January 18 in the morning.

  17. Nik says:

    I have been googling this also, since I heard the commercial.
    I identify as trans (ftm) and I was so disgusted by this commercial. I heard it just last night as my girlfriend drove in the car with me, I didn’t even know how to react. Something needs to be done about this.

  18. Pingback: GLAAD Was All Excited Taco Bell Stopped Running Its Anti-Trans Radio Ad. Except, It's Still Playing / Queerty

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