Released by an organization called Over The Rainbow Ads, this Israeli commercial featuring a trans woman is surprisingly refreshing. It’s simple and direct, and normalizes trans people.
[Transcript: Opens in a health clinic, with a doctor/nurse reading off of a clipboard, calling for the next patient. “Nathan Steinlevi?” he calls out, looking in the waiting room for the patient by that name. Three people in the waiting room look at him but don’t respond or get up to indicate that their name was called. The doctor/nurse tries again a few more times, then the camera focuses on the lone cis male patient, wearing a basketball jersey, who then looks up at the sound of someone wearing high heels approaching. The camera focuses on a pair of legs approaching, wearing strappy high heel sandals and jeans. The music switches to ballad-style rock, and the other patients’ faces are glowing, their hair blowing in the wind, looking in awe at whoever just walked in the clinic. The camera lingers up the figure of the legs, to reveal a tall, beautiful, blonde trans woman with oversized sunglasses and a stylish bag, sporting several tattoos, walking towards the nurse/doctor in slow motion, then making a gesture as though flipping her hair, which turns out to be her sneezing. In a thick, congested voice, she addresses the nurse/doctor, “Not Nathan. Dida. Dida Joy”, holding out her hand for the nurse/doctor to take. He takes her hand and says “Dida?” in a puzzled fashion. She takes off her sunglasses, and says in a clearer voice, “Nina, Nina!” “Ah, Nina!” the nurse/doctor responds, and she confirms it. He goes, “Oh, okay,” then pauses and says in a somewhat anticipatory tone, “First, I need to figure out something…” The other patients look up at them, and he says, “Where did you get that killer bag?!” clearly envious of her fashionable handbag. Nina smiles, and he guides her into the office, saying, “a cold right? Please come in!” They’re shown chatting in his office, and Hebrew lettering reads “Calit Medical Centre- Feel Comfortable”]
Now, it’s not perfect obviously. The cheesy rock music at Nina’s entrance is over the top, and leads up to a rather crass “big reveal” which is very tired and trite. Having everyone stare at her and her wearing an overly sexy outfit* for a trip to the clinic adds to that. But that’s my only real big complaint, otherwise, it’s wonderful.
I don’t know if it was deliberate, but the setup of a trans woman going to the clinic to be treated for a cold reminded me of a story by Eddie Izzard, a transvestite comedian, in which he described going to the doctor for an equally banal reason, and having the doctor obsess over him being a transvestite, even though that has absolutely nothing to do with why he’s at the doctor’s! It’s distressingly common, I’m told, for doctors to obsess over trans patients’ genitals, even when they’re going in for something as simple as a vaccine or a check up. So to have Nina be treated for the cold and for the nurse/doctor** to not even question Nina about it was refreshing and powerful.
I’m glad to know that treating trans people as ordinary patients who deserve dignity and appropriate care is on the agenda at the Calit Medical Centre. Bravo.
* Admittedly that annoys me less just because as someone from a hot climate, I’m guessing it’s not uncommon to see people dressed that way in a medical clinic in Israel.
** I’m not familiar with the way the Israeli healthcare system works, so I didn’t make any assumptions about the other main character’s profession, but in Canada and the states, it’s the nurse who usually calls your name in the waiting room and does the preliminary stuff before you meet the doctor. So I waffled on it to be safe.