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Tennessee resident inspires General Mills to abandon transphobic ad

Totino's Pizza contest included video footage of a male cross dresser

October 20, 2011 O&AN Staff Reports   Comments

Carla Lewis of Maryville, Tenn. is responsible for General Mill's decision to abandon a transphobic advertising campaign for Totino's Pizza.

The campaign included an online competition seeking the next Totino's Pizza Stuffers Mom. One of the video examples on General Mills' website was a non-female identified cross dresser.

Lewis, a member of the East Tennessee Equality Council and a former secretary of Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition, composed a petition on change.org to General Mills asking the CEO, Director of Marketing, and Director of Sales to pull the offensive ad.

Although her petition received only 69 signatures, it drew the attention of General Mills staff. Within 24 hours of posting the petition, the video was deleted from their website.

"To their credit, not only did they pull the YouTube video, but have killed the entire ad campaign," Lewis says on her blog. "I would ask that you judge for yourself the nature of the offense, but the ads are completely gone. I have to say, I could have never expected this kind of positive response."

Full text of the petition:

Even since the Stonewall Riots in 1969, transgender people have been fighting a losing battle to gain acceptance and equality in our country. Our progress is hampered time and time again by misinformation and mischaracterization by politicians, many religious groups, and the media.

Because of this, I find it offensive and reckless for General Mills to portray a non-female identified cross dresser as a punchline in their new “Totino’s Pizza Stuffers Mom Auditions: Group “B”" video on YouTube.

As states and municipalities labor to implement Gender Identity/Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Ordinances to prevent transgender people from being turned away from housing, employment, and public accommodations, time and time again the argument against devolves into “men in a dress using the women’s bathroom”. Transgender people are demonized and vilified as perverts, mentally unstable, and worse, pedophiles.

On November 20 each year, the transgender community and their allies remember all of the transgender people that have fallen victim to murder because of public fears and stereotypes propagated by ill-conceived rhetoric and ads such as this. Countless more are brutalized.

General Mills, please understand that transgender people can no longer be the punchline. No one is dying laughing – they’re just dying and you’re helping.”

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