Is Urban Outfitters Transphobic?
“Jack and Jill, Went up the Hill, So Jack could see Jill’s fanny, But Jack got a shock, And an eyeful of cock, Because Jill was a closet tranny.”
That’s the caption of a greeting card Urban Outfitters has been selling (it sold out in the U.S., but it’s still available on the retailer’s U.K. site). While the Philly-based company is certainly no stranger to moving stuff that gets people talking – for better or worse – (remember the gun ornaments for the Christmas tree?), this particular item has transgender customers seeing red.
And for good reason.
What do you say when one of the largest creative forces headquartered in Philadelphia (one that presumable hires quite a few LGBT people) okays a product that essentially poke fun at a minority group that’s anything but accepted in the mainstream? Even within the LGBT community, transmen and women may feel disenfranchised from time to time from the “greater cause.” So this wink-and-nudge of a card hardly seems a good fit for a company that seeks to attract LGBT business – and the almighty “gay dollar” – especially in a town that prides itself on LGBT tourism.
If the same twisted logic created a card that makes gays and lesbians the punch line of a joke – or African-Americans, Asians or Jewish people – you wouldn’t find the card on the shelves. And not because it sold out – but because it’s just not funny.
Don’t get us wrong – Urban Outfitters isn’t all bad. We’ve featured products in our magazine and we even recently spotted a Robert Mapplethorpe T-shirt for sale on Walnut Street (talk about gay-friendly). And in general, we love the gender-bending styles that pretty much pervade the store on a regular basis. But having a laugh at the expense of transgender folks? That’s hitting below the belt.
Before you accuse us of being “too” sensitive or say that it’s “just a joke,” ask yourself this: Is there anything funny about someone who risks bodily harm and harassment day in and day out just for living an authentic life? We can appreciate a good joke as much as anyone, but the difference between a joke and this card? Humor.