IKEA Slammed by Transgender Group for New Ad

An Ikea ad depicting a woman, who accidentally takes on a man's tone when getting excited over a pillow, has caused outrage.

Boy Poses with Elephants
A transsexual, locally known as "katoey" or "ladyboy", poses for a picture with elephants during the 10th annual King's Cup Elephant Polo Tournament in Hua Hin, nearly 160 km (100 miles) south of Bangkok September 10, 2011. Twelve international teams ride Thai street elephants during the week-long tournament, which will conclude on September 11 with the final. |

A woman is idly shopping arm in arm with her boyfriend in an Ikea store when the couple comes across a pillow they both seem to like. The woman gets excited,but when she opens her mouth what comes out is a man's tone instead of a woman's. The boyfriend turns to the woman shocked and steps away. The woman covers her mouth before collecting herself and returning to a feminine tone.

The ad has been titled "Luem Aeb" in Thai. In English it means "Forget to Keep Hidden." But some people find the ad to be disrespectful. It is "negative and stereotypical" a Thai transgender group wrote in a letter obtained by Reuters.

The ad was first run by Ikea, an international home products company that has made a name for itself by selling easy to assemble furniture at a low cost, in December and January. The Thai Transgender Alliance has since, demanded an explanation from the furniture company.

A transgender lifestyle is commonplace in many parts of Thailand, where the country's culture is heavily rooted in Buddhism and the values of tolerance. As a possible result transgender men, also sometimes called lady-boys, are more accepted there in comparison to other countries. But they are still regarded as a "third sex" even though most identify themselves as being either male or female.

The Alliance complained about the ad to Ikea on January 9th. The company has since talked with the group and promised a formal response.

"IKEA has spoken to the group over the telephone and the conversation went very smoothly. We are now drafting a letter in response," an company official who did not wish to be identified, told Reuters.

Others argued that the group was being "oversensitive" and that the ad appeared to have no specific target.

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