Following a backlash from New Zealand’s transgender community, an Auckland-based company has taken down a Christmas-themed Bruce Jenner billboard.
The billboard, which was placed in the Auckland suburb of East Tamaki, featured a photo of post-gender transition Jenner in a Santa hat with a slogan that read, “I hope your sack is fuller than mine this Christmas. Merry Christmas from Cranium.”
— Daily Mail Australia (@DailyMailAU) December 3, 2015
The image was taken from Jenner’s June Vanity Fair photoshoot and photoshopped to include the Santa hat.
The billboard angered members of New Zealand’s transgender community who said it was “transphobic” and risked marginalizing the transgendered.
After hearing the complaints, Cranium director Phillip Garratt agreed to remove the sign and offered a $1,000 donation to the LGBT group Rainbow Youth.
Garratt issued the following apology on the company’s Facebook page on Wednesday:
I as the owner have no feelings of discrimination to the Gay or transgender community and if one of my family was I would love them just the same. Cait is more then [sic] welcome to stay at my house with my family anytime. I will have a wine or a beer with her quite happily and it would be an honour.
Despite an apology, a donation, and the removal of the sign, some of Garratt’s critics feel he has not done enough to amend the situation.
Rebecca Jones, the mother of a 9-year-old transgender child, told the Herald that she wants a “face-to-face apology” from Garratt because a donation alone is not enough.
“I want an apology to my 9-year-old son AND a donation, and the transgender community is behind me on this,” Jones said.
Jones said that Garratt was “quite insulting” in an email exchange he had with one of Jones’ friends who emailed him to complain about the billboard.
“I think you may need to take a look at yourself and relax a bit and not take life so seriously. I was referring to a Santa sack, your sick mind is the problem,” Garratt reportedly wrote back to Jones’ friend.
While some are still seeking additional reparations for the billboard, Rainbow Youth, the organization which received Garratt’s $1,000 donation, said he has learned his lesson.
Rainbow Youth’s communications manager Toni Duder told the Herald, “In future it would be good to work together to promote Rainbow Youth and its work in a more positive light.”
“Jokes shouldn’t target transgender people who are already marginalized and over-represented in negative health statistics,” Duder added.