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German Railroad Company Bans Ad For LGBTQ Show

This week the German railroad company Deutsche Bahn AGAn announced that an ad depicting a trans person in promotion of an exhibition called “Homosexuality_ies,” which is set to open May 13 at the LWL-Museum für Kunst und Kultur, will not be allowed in its train stations, Maximilíano Durón of ArtNews reports.

Titled Advertisement: Hommage to Benglis, 2011, the piece was created by Cassils, who identifies as a gender-nonconforming trans masculine visual artist. In the work, Cassils stands in the center of the poster wearing nothing but a jock strap and red lipstick. Made in collaboration with Robin Black, the work pays tribute to Lynda Benglis’s famous Advertisement, 1974, which ran in Artforum’s November issue of the same year.

Deutsche Bahn called the ad “sexualized” and “sexist.” According to the Schwules Museum, one of the organizers of the exhibition, the rail company said that the German public had become more sensitive to “sexism” after eighty women reported that they had been sexually assaulted in Cologne on New Year’s Eve.

On Tuesday, the Schwules said that it considered the ban “wrong and inappropriate.” The museum added, “It is interesting that the Deutsche Bahn AG has no problems showing people—with nudity—in advertisements when they conform [to] heterosexual norms. Yet an image that obviously questions such norms is being ‘censored’ and considered unacceptable for public display.”

Yesterday, the rail company announced on social media that it had reversed its decision to ban the poster, but regretted to inform the public that it had already sold the advertising locations that were reserved for the exhibiton.

In response to the controversy surrounding the work, Cassils said, “The phobic response to Cassils’s image here calls to mind broader instances of transphobia which seek to prohibit the presence of trans and gender-nonconforming bodies from public spaces.” The artist made the work available for free download so that people could paste it over images displayed in the Deutsche Bahn that they believe are sexist.