The Boy Is Back

Tsk! Tsk!

America’s Next Top Model quickly removed an ad picturing transgender model contestant Isis with the tagline “The Boy is back” after complaints from the TG community.  The company responsible offered apologies.

isis_antm“The Top Model ad campaign is certainly not intended to be offensive, nor controversial, and we apologise for any offense it has caused. We see it as enormously positive that a hit mainstream show such as ANTM features gay and transgender contestants, and believe that Isis will be one of the stars of the upcoming series. We have, however, received feedback over the past few days that the tagline ‘The Boy is back’ used on the posters featuring Isis is offensive to the transgender community, and in response have already taken steps to have the posters in question removed.”

The complaints basically surround our desire to be referred to in the gender we present, or with which we identify.

It’s a funny thing though.  Of course I understand wanting to be accepted as a woman – all the more so for someone who feels she was born in the wrong body. 

But, my understanding is that the complaint came not from Isis but from advocacy groups – and the test there should be what is good for the community.

In this I wonder just a little bit. 

Don’t take the removal of the ads and the apologies as an admission of wrongdoing.  Companies have nothing to gain from butting heads with over-sensitive interest groups.

I think that effective advocacy requires us to pick our battles, and I am just not sure this one was worth annoying a company that clearly had done us a huge service by having included a transgender model in their highly visible competition.  Will we be able to expect such positive treatment in the future after embarrassing them?  Is there no pleasing us?

402454_339533456077131_170977296266082_1100679_1335110325_nYes, the ad refers to her as “The Boy,” but note that it does not refer to her as “the boy.”  To me there is a big difference; capitalizing it gives the impression that this is a title or nickname rather than a description.

Yes, the ad refers to her as “The Boy.”  But, in so doing over a photo of a beautiful woman, I think it is likely to open many people’s eyes to the contradictions of gender assumptions. 

Two words and a directly, simply an powerfully conveyed huge message…

I guess it depends what message you are hearing.

I invite your opinions…


  1. Maybe the point of the ad is to highlight the fact that Isis, IS in fact, a boy, masquerading, “passing”, as a girl.

    • Isis is, in fact, nothing of the sort. Isis is a post-corrected woman (thanks to help from Tyra Banks). “The Boy is back” is inaccurate at the very least. Isis was a “transgender” (really pre-op transsexual) candidate the first time she was on, but for the all-star cycle that was (or should have been) all behind her.

      One curious thing is that this cycle of ANTM was on a while ago, last autumn, I believe. This was the “all-star” cycle. Isis didn’t bring her A-game and was sent home after only a few weeks.

      • Of course I agree with you, Ariel, that Isis is a female; I never expected anyone to say otherwise. I think Annie’s inaccurate statement needed to be addressed, but I hasten to add that that’s not really the point of my post; the issue is whether calling her “The Boy” is any different than calling the others “The Nut Job” or “Hoochie-mama” – and if it is different, if it is worth spending our political capital on.

  2. I’m having a hard time understanding the reply from annierose55’s comment regarding the post-op transsexual Isis,

    “Maybe the point of the ad is to highlight the fact that Isis, IS in fact, a boy, masquerading, “passing”, as a girl.”

    But the question you’ve posed Janie is if calling Isis “The Boy” is no different than calling the others “The Nut Job” or “The Hoochie-mama” and if it’s worth spending out political capital on. I’m having trouble understanding your questions also, Janie. What exactly IS your point?

    • My point is simply that the ad nicknaming Isis “The Boy” was probably a non-issue, and we probably shouldn’t have made an issue out of it. Rather, we should be happy that a mainstream show was including us in their program.

  3. Hmmmmmm……. I dunnooooo here?!?! Obviously it is no coincidence that they just happened to pick that nickname, I think we should see it for what it is…..just a marketing ploy to stir up ijnterest and controversy. Controversy sells! They, IMHO, purposely wanted to draw attention to Isis’ former pre-op condition, and the shock value of the “big reveal” on the show. People who watched the show before know who Isis is. The ad campaign is trying to draw in new viewers, the kind of viewers that might also follow an ambulance to an accident scene for the sensationalism. I think that pointing out the past, instead of acknowledging the present for Isis, is an insult to her.
    Seriously, would there have been a problem with just saying “Isis returns”?

    • Of course it was a marketing ploy; of course they wanted to draw attention. That’s what their business is. I don’t think it is an insult any more than “Nut Job” or “Hoochie Mama.”

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