Last spring North Carolina signed its discriminatory “bathroom bill” into law, sparking backlash from not only the federal government, but from other state leaders who either disagree with the law or believe similar legislation should be enacted in their own states. But voices of trans people — with the exception of Caitlyn Jenner and a handful of activists — have been largely absent from the national dialogue around the issue.
But Secret Deodorant, of all things, puts transgender women front and center in a new ad for its “Stress Test” campaign. In it, queer actress Karis Wilde plays Dana, a trans woman in a public women’s restroom. She stands in her stall, listening to the chattering of three cisgender women who’ve just walked in. Eventually she works up the courage to exit the stall and join the conversation. Writing on the screen reads, “Dana finds courage to show there’s no wrong way to be a woman.”
In other words, rather than obscure the issue with bogus terms such as “religious liberty,” the ad illustrates the very real anxieties trans women face when using a public restroom. “I always have moments of insecurity, but I have conditioned myself to act unbothered,” Wilde told Queerty when asked if the ad mimicked her real-life experience. “While shooting, I allowed myself to feel vulnerable. It terrified me how much I’ve stored all those emotions; I almost cried in the middle of taping.”