Broadcasters Channel 4 and BSkyB are planning to continue airing Paddy Power’s ‘spot the trans lady’ advert in the face of fierce criticism.

The advert has been pulled by sports network ESPN but Channel 4 told the Guardian while it had a duty to ensure broadcasts comply with advertising codes, but beyond that it was policy to leave it “up to our viewers to make their own judgment about the adverts they have seen”.

BSkyB reportedly has no intention of removing the adverts from its broadcasts.

The advert in question introduces transgender women to the Cheltenham horse races and asks the viewer to decide whether they are a ‘stallion’ or a ‘mare’.

The advert’s voiceover actor says: “We are going to make Cheltenham Ladies Day even more exciting by sending in some beautiful transgender ladies.

“Spot the stallions from the mares.”

The advert then shows a series of women in the enclosures and indoor areas while the voiceover says “woman” or “man” for each.

After a shot of a woman holding a lapdog, another is seen emerging from a men’s toilet as the voiceover says “Dog. I mean, man”.

The last shot prompts the voice to say “Good luck with that.”

The Guardian reported that nearly 500 complaints had been made to the Advertising Standards Authority and a spokesperson for broadcaster ESPN, which is owned by Disney, said it had “reviewed the commercial in question, and have made an internal editorial decision that it will not run on ESPN”.

A spokesman for BSkyB said: “Prior to transmission all advertising is checked by Clearcast, an independent body dedicated to applying the ASA rules and regulations on advertising. If, retrospectively, any ad is thought unsuitable for broadcast, the ASA can step in. When they do so, we always comply with the judgments they make.”

Paris Lees, editor of META and project manager at Trans Media Watch, writes on PinkNews.co.uk: “The problem with “spot the trans lady” though is that, for one person in the game, it’s really not that fun. Ask any trans woman. Most of us, at some stage, have faced the humiliation of strangers playing it on us.”

Yesterday, the betting company said responses to the advert had been “healthily mixed”.

Paddy Power said: “Several members of the UK transgender community are cast in the ad, and it was also cleared by Clear Cast before airing. This ad is simply a bit of mild mannered fun in the run up to the Cheltenham Festival.”

The company said the ‘We Hear You’ campaign is inspired by sports and betting comments received from customers via our social media platforms, phone or at betting shops offers them “entertaining resolutions”.