A coffee chain owned by Coca-Cola is facing boycott calls in the UK over its use of promotional material featuring a cartoon image of a transgender person with prominent scars from surgical breast removal.
Costa Coffee, a leading coffee shop chain in Britain, has found itself mired in controversy over its use of the cartoon-like mural on the side of a Costa Express van, with critics saying it glorifies life-changing gender reassignment surgery and fuels gender dysphoria.
“You are promoting the mutilation of healthy young girls,” wrote Reclaim Party leader Laurence Fox in a post on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.
“I hope you are boycotted out of existence,” Mr. Fox added, punctuating his post with the hashtag #BoycottCostaCoffee.
Mr. Fox’s post calling for a boycott was viewed over 3 million times, with numerous other users weighing in with scathing criticism of the mural—many saying it promotes child mutilation.
Costa Defends Use of Image
Costa Coffee did not immediately respond to a request from The Epoch Times for comment on the boycott call. However, the company defended its decision to use the illustration on grounds of “inclusivity” in a statement to British news outlet Evening Standard.
“At Costa Coffee we celebrate the diversity of our customers, team members, and partners,” a spokesperson for the company told the outlet.
“We want everyone that interacts with us to experience the inclusive environment that we create, to encourage people to feel welcomed, free, and unashamedly proud to be themselves. The mural, in its entirety, showcases and celebrates inclusivity,” the company added.
There were some supportive voices on social media for the mural, including by Dr. Helen Webberley, who in a post called top surgery “completely routine and normal” and runs a private clinic providing gender-change procedures for children in the UK.
But the bulk of reactions on Twitter appeared to be sharply critical.
“If they wish to promote dangerous medical procedures on little girls (who may need careful and compassionate help, not corporate-sponsored surgery), I will restrain from drinking horrendous coffee,” attorney Jeremy Brier wrote in a post, in which he shared a thread on the topic by Malcom Clark, an Emmy-nominated science documentary director who campaigns against what he describes as “gender identity pseudo science.”
Mr. Clark, who on Substack penned a critical essay entitled “Mutilation with your Coffee Ma’am?” argued in his thread that one likely motivation for corporations to embrace transgender marketing is to try to deflect from prior bad publicity.
“Costa was recently accused of treating its staff so badly it had to agree to an independent audit,” Mr. Clark wrote.
“All hail the #Transwash,” he added, with the play on words drawing on the concept of insincere corporate virtue signaling on environmental issues known as “greenwashing.”
Helen Joyce, the director of advocacy for human-rights organisation Sex Matters, told British news outlet The Telegraph that the use of the image glorifies self-harm and fuels gender dysphoria.
“It’s disgustingly irresponsible of Costa to suggest, sell, even glorify mental distress, bodily dissociation, and self-harm among teenage girls,” she said.
“Costa presumably thinks it’s being ‘inclusive’ with this messaging. In fact, it’s helping to fuel a social contagion and medical scandal masquerading as a social-justice movement,” Ms. Joyce added.
‘Actions Have Consequences’
James Esses, co-founder of Thoughtful Therapists, a group of psychologists concerned about the impact of gender ideology on today’s youth, penned an op-ed in The Telegraph on Aug. 2, arguing that the campaign is “shameless promotion of a brand” that is also “harming the very fabric of our society.”
“It is concerning how corporations, such as Costa, risk capitalising on what may be a response to mental ill-health, such as body dysmorphia or gender dysphoria,” Mr. Esses wrote. “What sort of message would it send to a young, pubescent girl, perhaps unhappy with her changing body, to see recognisable brands celebrating surgical removal of breasts for gender ideological reasons?”
Esses argued that Costa’s campaign is the latest example in a string of corporations pushing “troubling ideologies” that harm young people.
He added that some of these companies may intentionally be looking to spark outrage with provocative ads like Costa’s trans mastectomy mural under the “no such thing as bad publicity” mantra.
“It is about time they were taught that their actions have consequences,” Mr. Esses wrote, noting that the hashtag #BoycottCostaCoffee was already trending on social media and calling on more people to join the boycott.
Other supportive voices for the ad were the pro-LGBT publication Pink News, which ran an article praising the mural as “bold” and “beautiful” and a “breath of fresh air,” citing the words of trans artist Fox Fisher, who herself had top surgery about a decade ago.
The call to boycott Costa Coffee comes amid a wave of backlash against the increased use of transgender imagery and personalities in marketing campaigns both in Britain and the United States.
British shoe brand Dr. Martens faced consumer backlash for offering a pair of boots showing a transgender person with mastectomy scars, while in America, Bud Light has been the target of a long-running boycott over its marketing partnership with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney.
Source: Epoch Times