You’ve responded to an invitation for a “social experiment” by Heineken. You are an outspoken trans woman trying to make a difference so you figure, sure. An opportunity is an opportunity. Let’s get this bullshit over with.
Their film crew tapes you speaking about who you are and why trans people deserve to exist. You already know where this is going, but you hope maybe this time you’re wrong.
You come to a warehouse and are made to stand within taped lines facing a bald, mildly put-upon looking man. Gaffs create a bar which the two of you are then instructed to approach and engage in polite conversation. You do so, critically hyperaware of your body and your transness because you already know what this “social experiment” is going to reference.
A buzzer goes off and you’re then instructed to stand and watch a short video. Sure enough, here is the bald man next to you talking about how “weird” the “transgenders” are. Just like clockwork.
“Another one of these fucking feel-good, bigots-just-need-a-hug commercials. Goddammit I gotta talk to my agent about this shit.”
Of course, two Heineken beers are now placed at the bar and you are given the “option” of having one with this man.
But you know if you actually leave you will garner no sympathy for yourself or other trans women. You are already aware that you alone now represent everything good or bad about all trans women to everyone in this room. You also know they will simply continue this “experiment” with other trans women until they achieve the outcome they want for their ad campaign anyway. So you do your best to make the most of it.
You put on that forced smile learned from your matriarchs for dealing with potentially dangerous men, and you make yourself as welcoming and understanding as you possibly can be.
He pretends to leave after you approach the bar. “Thank god,” you think to yourself. But then he comes back laughing and cracking jokes. “Oh goodie, this one’s a comedian.”
And even though that’s where the commercial spot ends, you now have to sit with this man for at least ten minutes while drinking a beer that tastes shameful with each sip, wondering if this is really the best you can do for your trans sisters right now? He asks you the same tired crap you’ve been answering your whole life out of the closet. And now, as you both leave, you know he feels great about himself, while you already feel like shit on the way home.
You retreat to your partner and tell them about how you got hoodwinked, and they reassure you that even though this bullshit gets old, we all have to make the best of what life throws at us, and they are proud of you.
The campaign comes out, and everyone praises the man who ridiculed you and your sisters on screen. And the company that didn’t give a shit about your feelings of safety if they could spin it into a message for drinking their swill.
“This is what we need to create change!” someone comments, “You win more flies with honey…or in this case beer!”
God, now that man looks like a hero, Heineken sells more beer, and you’re just a nameless tr*nny that normal people are saints for treating like a human being.
Worlds Apart indeed.