Supporters of Proposition 5, which would expand Anchorage's anti-discrimination law, have criticized an ad released by opponents, calling it “dehumanizing.”

If approved on April 3, Proposition 5 would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the Anchorage Equal Rights Initiative. Religious organizations would be exempted from the law. The Anchorage Assembly approved a similar ordinance in 2009, but it was vetoed by Mayor Dan Sullivan.

In the 30-second ad titled Daycare and released on Friday, an animated day care owner is forced to hire a “transvestite” as horrified parents look on. The cartoon “transvestite” is drawn to look like an unshaven, hairy chested man in a short pink dress.

“If she hires him, she risks losing customers,” a female narrator is heard saying. “And if she refuses, she can be fined or imprisoned.”

“Anchorage is already a tolerant city, vote no on Proposition 5,” she adds. (The video is embedded in the right panel of this page. Visit our video library for more videos.)

Trevor Storrs, a spokesman for the One Anchorage campaign, called the imagery an “offensive, stigmatizing and distorted” representative of a transgender person.

“Such distorted cartoons have been used over and over again in history to dehumanize groups,” Storrs told reporters during a news conference held on Tuesday.

Jim Minnery, a spokesman for Protect Your Rights – Vote No On Prop. 5, stood by the ad, telling The News Tribune that the term “transgender” is loosely defined in the proposed law.

“I think it's a shocking flaw in Prop. 5 and shows profound disrespect to voters that the authors didn't feel it was important to provide a definition of transgender identity,” he said.

Storrs called on opponents to remove the ad.

(Related: Opponents of Anchorage's gay protections Prop 5 say gay people already accepted.)