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GLAAD Slams ABC Over Sitcom’s Transphobia Risks

GLAAD Slams ABC Over Sitcom’s Transphobia Risks

 

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has hit out at ABC over new sitcom Work It, saying that it risks reinforcing negative ideas about trans people.

The sitcom, which guest blogger Kelli Busey first wrote about for Care2 here, is about two “guy’s guys” who find themselves unemployed due to today’s bad economy. Unable to find employment, they dress in drag to get hired by an all-female pharmaceutical company. Both ABC exec Paul Lee and actress Rebecca Mader defended ABC’s Work It saying that it is no way a swipe at the trans community and refuse the notion that the show is offensive.

GLAAD, however, says that whether offense was meant or not, Work It risks reinforcing crude notions about trans people. From the GLAAD blog:

GLAAD has seen the pilot and while the show’s pilot does not explicitly address transgender people, many home viewers unfamiliar with the realities of being transgender will still make the connection. Work It invites the audience to laugh at images of men trying to adopt a feminine appearance, thereby also making it easier to mock people whose gender identity and expression are different than the one they were assigned at birth.  Said GLAAD’s Acting President Mike Thompson, “Transphobia is still all too prevalent in our society and this show will only contribute to it. It will reinforce the mistaken belief that transgender women are simply ‘men pretending to be women,’ and that their efforts to live their lives authentically as women are a form of lying or deception.”

These problems are even more pronounced in the show’s printed ad, which depicts the two main characters dressed as women while standing at men’s room urinals. Not only does it inadvertently further notions that transgender identities are humorous or artificial, but imagery like this are one of the first things anti-LGBT activists resort to when trying to deny transgender people protections against discrimination.

[...]

We ask that ABC recognize this fact, keep the show’s bathroom advertisement out of circulation, and seriously consider whether airing this show is worth the damage it has the potential to do. The fact is ABC should not air this show at all, as it will contribute to a climate in which transgender people are something to be laughed at, rather than treated with the respect and dignity that everyone deserves.

(Read more over at GLAAD blog.)

Most other commentators, while not addressing the gender identity issues in the show, have slammed the premise for being half-baked, full of buzz words and ill-conceived.

ABC has not released a statement regarding the bad press the show has received but there are rumors that execs will meet with LGBT rights groups to discuss the show.

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15 comments

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5:03PM PST on Jan 27, 2012

It was a good show and it made fun of no one!!!!!!!! Why do all the queers and lesbos get to decide what's on television? Gays and lesbians are what's disgusting!!!!!!

1:10PM PST on Dec 21, 2011

I did NOT find it funny when Tom Hanks did this show back in the 80s (I think) and this one sounds even less entertaining. I will NOT be one if it's few viewers. It's just another example of how BAD programming has become at ABC. Maybe it's time they went off the air period. Glad I still have books.

7:03AM PST on Dec 21, 2011

So for 100's of years the ONLY actors who were allowed on stage were males, including males who played the female roles~ how it is that this is now an issue? What is America's issue with being a woman? Why are women so hated that it would be an atrocity for a man to play a woman's role? Women play mens roles all the time~ tomboys, they wear jeans/pants (unheard of less than 60 years ago).... In England the House Of Lords dress in wigs, a gown and sometimes even in make-up.
It is time to mature and recognize that we all have wonderful traits to share with one another. Unless we would like to go back to the time where men were not allowed into the hospital room with their wife having their baby~ or that men should not be allowed to change diapers, cook, clean, care for the elderly, nurse.... (all major taboos broken within the last 40 years)~

3:37PM PST on Dec 20, 2011

Hey, it worked for Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari...

2:18PM PST on Dec 20, 2011

I'm quite a good audience for classic comedy (Some Like It Hot) or very tolerant plots (Victor, Victoria), but if GLAAD isn't too sure about this series, I'm tempted to say there might be something fishy.
Things change, but the amount of intolerance (and ignorance) in some places is so high that there's no need to fan the flames.
I once had a lil' chat with an uncle who didn't get the difference between transvestite and transgender.
As well, just look at some comments *here* when there's a transgender issue being discussed!
There's no need to feed the bigoted trolls. Audience isn't an appropriate justification.

Thanks for the post.

11:14AM PST on Dec 20, 2011

I am not sure I have not seen the show yet. I am not sure whether or not its a good thing or bad thing. More exposure to something usually helps the situation.

7:31AM PST on Dec 20, 2011

This is a reworked update of "Bosom Buddies," which introduced the world to Tom Hanks. Only THOSE two straight guys were desperate for housing, so dressed as women so they could get a place in an all-woman rooming house.

Bennie Hill cross-dressed on a regular basis. Max Klinger was in drag more than he was out. This is NOT a bold new direction for TV to take.

7:26AM PST on Dec 20, 2011

Let's not forget the show Bosom Buddies, with Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari. This seems like a remake of that show. Although it launched the careers of these two gentlemen, the show itself was a failure. The problem with shows like this is that the setting -- two guys trying to rent an apartment (Bosom Buddies) or two guys trying to get a job at an all-female pharmaceutical company -- and trying to maintain/reinforce a traditional sense of masculinity (and heterosexuality) while adopting a female persona, is so far fetched that audiences simply cannot relate to the show. At the same time, shows like this always have an underlying reinforcement of gender stereotypes, misogyny, homophobia, and the demeaning of trans people. With all that said, I am not sure that protesting the show before it is broadcast is the best strategy. From my perspective, why not simply allow the show to air, become the spectacular failure that it is destined to be, and then point out why it was a failure?

7:05AM PST on Dec 20, 2011

Apparently when the schlong is cut off, the sense of humor comes with it and is replaced by a big dose of self importance.

7:03AM PST on Dec 20, 2011

Roberta K, let's not forget that Julie Andrews/James Garner movie "Victor/Victoria!" Victoria in that one was "a woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman" and it was a wonderful movie! However, I'm sure that it would ruffle more than a few feathers in this day and age, sadly. Pity, because I LOVE that movie.

And I agree with you about "Some Like It Hot." Another excellent movie from a classic age!

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