A major Irish betting company with a history of trolling has cemented its dickish reputation this week with an ad that invites you to "spot the stallions from the mares." The "stallions": transgender women.

Betting company Paddy Power's ad has already drawn a lot of criticism. According to the Guardian, the UK's Advertising Standards Authority has already gotten almost 500 complaints about the ad, and is investigating to see if it violates advertising regulations. The UK's Channel 4 says it will keep running the ad, but ESPN (currently dealing with the fallout from some offensive comments of its own) has declined. The LGBT Lib Dems Northern Ireland wrote, in a post on their website,

To use the subject of transgender is such a degrading and mocking way is a clear cut case of transphobia. I suspect that most of the actors were actually drag artists and not transgendered people at all.

What is worse is that the advert appeared during Sky Sports very popular Soccer Saturday not just once but three times. So while we have the UK government running a campaign to wipe out transphobia in sport we have the nations number one sports channel showing such an advert.

Paddy Power, for its part, says that "this ad is simply a bit of mild-mannered fun" and that "several members of the UK transgender community are cast in the ad." That's better than just dressing some dudes up as women, I guess, but the fact that a select few trans women weren't offended by the ad doesn't mean nobody's allowed to be. In fact, most commenters on the website of the Cheltenham Festival, which the ad was meant to promote, seem disgusted. Says one,

Beyond bad taste. Whoever okay-ed this as an add concept should be fired. This jaw-droppingly offensive advertisement must be the worst spent money and effort in the history of advertising.

Or at least since the last Paddy Power ad. The company also had the most-complained-about ad of 2010, a spot featuring a blind footballer kicking a cat. And in 2008, they allowed customers to bet on whether President Obama would be assassinated. Basically, they're the GoDaddy of the UK betting world, and their latest ad just further entrenches their reputation as tasteless assholes.

Paddy Power faces investigation over 'transgendered ladies' ad [Guardian]
Channel 4 to keep screening controversial Paddy Power ad [Guardian]
Video: Betting ad asks if trans women are ‘stallions or mares' [Pink News]