TRANS* advocates have accused one of Australia’s largest corporate bookmakers of transphobia after it began taking bets on what Bruce Jenner’s new name would be as he undergoes transition.
This morning, Sportsbet — which largely operates online — sent a press release and Twitter post titled Bruscilla, Queen of the Kardashians? It encouraging punters to place bets on which name Jenner, of Keeping Up With The Kardashians fame, would choose as he transitions from man to a woman.
Jenner has reportedly recorded a TV interview with Diane Sawyer, where he is expected to confirm rumours of his gender transition and reveal his new name.
However, leading Australian trans* advocates have slammed Sportsbet for launching the betting campaign in the lead-up to the interview being aired on US TV, accusing the company of transphobia.
“This is a person’s life, not a sporting event, and to have bets on it is just ridiculous,” Transgender Victoria executive officer Sally Goldner told the Star Observer.
“Getting the name you want is probably the most personal moment in a trans* person’s journey, and to have someone play about with it is just so invasive and insensitive.
“Regardless of how public anyone might be, it’s still a personal journey.”
Kelly Glanney, who leads the NSW-based trans* and gender-diverse advocacy group Carmen Rupe Memorial Trust, agreed with Goldner.
“It never ceases to amazing me just how crass, insensitive and exploitative some Australian businesses are willing to be in pursuit of publicity and profit,” she told the Star Observer.
“Sportsbet are clearly engaging in emotional vampirism of the very worst kind – a corporation publicaly mocking members of a historically-persecuted and still highly-marginalised minority for the sole purpose of driving sales for their online gambling products is simply not acceptable in a civilised 21st century society.”
When contacted by the Star Observer, a spokesperson from Sportsbet said that while they fully supported Jenner in his transitioning journey and offered an apology based offending people, they would not apologise for accepting bets on the matter.
“Bruce Jenner is doing a TV interview where he will reveal his name and we are betting on the result of this revelation,” the spokesperson said.
“At no stage was it our intention to offend anyone with this market and if it has we of course apologise for that.
“We are completely supportive of Bruce and the decision he has made.”
The spokesperson added that the reactions the company has received so far has been both negative and positive.
“We offer betting on names as common practice, such as the Royal baby,” the spokesperson said.
“This topic should not be treated as inhumane or taboo and is not considered so by Sportsbet.
“Bruce himself is very open about it so we see no reason to not accept bets from anyone interested in the topic and wishing to have a punt.
“Our apology is based on it offending people, not for accepting bets on matter.”
Despite Sportsbet’s comments, Twitter users have criticised the company for not shutting down the betting campaign.
Wow, Sportsbet. Taking bets on a hugely personal, sensitive transition in someone’s life. Stay classy. pic.twitter.com/Tw1B0s4HQw
— Marc Fennell (@marcfennell) February 17, 2015
Always wondered why I found Sportsbet so alienating oh wait they’re bros of course.
— Michael Walsh (@mikehwalsh) February 17, 2015
Despite the backlash, SportsBet continue to make fun of the issue. pic.twitter.com/AB0BWzGvIf
— Denham Sadler (@denhamsadler) February 17, 2015