Secret Deodorant ad says fuck you to anti-trans bathroom laws

There’s a certain sweet spot when it comes to advertising, and Secret Deodorant’s ad featuring a transgender woman hits it perfectly. The newest ad in the company’s #StressTest campaign features a woman named Dana in a public bathroom stall who’s just about to leave when a group of women come in and start chatting at the sinks. She waits, paces, and then finally takes a deep breath and walks the hell out. “Dana finds courage to show there’s no wrong way to be a woman,” the title card reads, with its own little “stress test” reference number.

Other ads in the campaign feature a woman (in super cute glasses, btw) psyching herself up in a mirror to ask for a raise and another about to propose to her boyfriend. All the ads turn the idea of traditional “womanhood” on their head, and seeing a brand stand up for transgender rights is (excuse me while I gush) really heartwarming.

Anti-trans bathroom laws are very real and obviously very discriminatory. They stigmatize transgender individuals and put them in danger. Real danger. Because of this, Dana’s plight in the bathroom is nothing like getting up the nerve to ask for a raise or put a ring on your man’s finger. The fictional “stress test” in the bathroom could be a matter of life and death.

Secret Deodorant doesn’t seem to be trivializing trans women’s experiences, either. We often hear about the threat of violence that transgender people face, but it’s not often that you get to really see what that means, even if it’s made for TV.

The actress who plays the woman in the ad is Karis Wilde, an artist. She told Pink News that acting in the spot hit home for her. “I always have moments of insecurity but I have conditioned myself to act unbothered,” she said. But while shooting, Wilde allowed herself “to feel vulnerable,” and she said it “terrified” her when she realized she had been storing all of those emotions. “I almost cried in the middle of taping,” she said.

In the ad, you can hear the women at the sink compliment the trans woman’s dress when she walks out, just barely. “Really cute,” another one chimes in. That’s an optimistic ending and one everyone should be hoping for. In normal places in America, retailers and public places are starting to slowly adopt gender neutral bathrooms. In those places, bathroom equality (can you even believe we have to talk about such a thing?) is on its way. In others, it seems like a pipe dream.

North Carolina refuses to repeal HB2 even though companies are backing out of deals left and right and the state is losing real money and jobs due to boycotts. Conservative, closed-minded jerks would rather lose money and jobs than let a woman use the bathroom. Ads like Secret’s help the cause for equality. Let’s hope they keep ‘em coming.