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Britain’s largest coffee chain is facing boycott over its ‘irresponsible’ ad illustration of a transgender person



Costa Coffee has come under fire on social media for a transgender illustration on one of its mobile vans. Users have been using the hashtag #boycottcostacoffee on Twitter—now known as X— to vent their feelings towards the U.K.’s largest coffee chain.

The illustration in Costa’s ad shows a person with scars on the chest, akin to those of people who get double mastectomies or “top surgery.”

Images of the ad first began doing the rounds on X when James Esses, a commentator on social issues who co-founded the anti-trans group Thoughtful Therapists, posted about it on the platform. 

On Monday, Esses tweeted: “Dear @CostaCoffee, Could you kindly explain why you are glorifying irreversible surgery performed on healthy breasts of women for a mental health condition?”

The tweet has received 8.6 million views as of Wednesday noon, ET, and many others have chimed in saying they will boycott the coffee chain.

Costa has defended its use of the trans person’s illustration. 

“At Costa Coffee we celebrate the diversity of our customers, team members and partners,” a spokesperson for the company said in a statement to Evening Standard on Tuesday.

“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.”

Despite critics pushing to boycott the coffee chain, many users have also voiced their support for Costa’s effort to include the transgender community.

Author Ugla Stefanía applauded the company’s advertisement as “lovely,” and said that what people were referring to as “mutilation” of breasts is, in fact, consensual surgery.    

Dr. Helen Webberly, founder of health and well-being-focused clinic Gender GP, also said that critics had “completely missed the point”.

“Top surgery doesn’t harm people – it saves lives. Good on @CostaCoffee for being on the right side of history,” she wrote in a post on X

Other experts have highlighted that Costa’s ad is sending out the wrong message to women by oversimplifying the reality.

“The cartoon-like picture of a young woman who has had her breasts surgically removed is shocking and irresponsible,” Maya Frostater, co-founder of Sex Matters, an organization with the goal of promoting “clarity about sex,” told The Telegraph.

“Young women are being sold a lie that if they have their breasts removed and take hormones they can become men, or at least avoid being women.”

Costa hasn’t said if it will continue to represent the transgender community in its marketing campaigns. The company did not immediately return Fortune’s request for comment.

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