GLAAD Slams Anti-Transgender SNL Skit

NBC’s Saturday Night Live is at the center of controversy for a skit broadcast last week where it used men in dresses – facial hair and all – to portray transwomen. GLAAD has called this “anti-transgender” and wants NBC to apologize.

Click here and scroll to the bottom of the page to see the January 29 skit (the page will open in a new window). 

Here is GLAAD’s response:

In the January 29 episode of Saturday Night Live, NBC broadcast a dangerous and blatantly anti-transgender segment which they called ‘Estro-Maxxx’ – the punch line of which was the lives of countless transgender people across the country.

The piece was a mock commercial for estrogen replacement therapy and featured men with facial hair wearing dresses, meant to represent transgender women. This segment cannot be defended as “just a joke” because there was no “joke” to speak of. The attempted comedy of the skit hinges solely on degrading the lives and experiences of transgender women. Holding people up for ridicule simply on the basis of their identity fuels a hurtful climate and puts people in danger, especially given how infrequently the media shines a fair and accurate light on the lives of transgender people. “The violence, discrimination and harassment that transgender Americans experience each and every day is no laughing matter,” said GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios. “Saturday Night Live is a touchstone of American comedy, but Saturday’s unfunny skit sends a destructive and dehumanizing message.”

As someone who personally enjoys a variety of comedy styles, I would in most circumstances be reluctant to draw attention to a joke or comedy scene that I find unfunny, preferring to let it die on its own by the cold hard slap of silence. However, sometimes we have to talk about why things aren’t funny.

When the joke – and I use the term loosely – hinges on portraying a section of society which, as GLAAD points out, is so often dehumanized, and does so without thought for those individuals, as evidenced here by blatant misgendering and by misrepresenting the transitioning process itself, I am forced to question the comedic sensibility behind the work.   

Moreover, I would stress that this skit actively uses trans people and their lives to prop up the labored joke. Whatever the true subject of the skit was (apparently they were taking aim at modern, pill-popping culture), the skit stands out as being exploitative. 

It should also be pointed out that this puerile material, whether intentionally or not, draws on the way in which many anti-trans groups seriously portray trans-identifying individuals by reducing them to sexualized caricatures. In fact you can see the men in a dress meme being actively cited by right leaning groups (the so-called “bathroom question” comes to mind) as reasons used to deny trans people basic protections such as employment non-discrimination

GLAAD is calling on NBC to apologize for the skit and would like to remind them that dehumanizing trans people for the purpose of getting a (cheap) laugh is unacceptable.

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Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to brainchildv.

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Barbara Erdman
Barbara Erdman4 years ago


Will L.
Past Member 4 years ago

Can't sign but can see the anti human ignorance of the anti trans gender buffoons..night time TV is not funny.. not at all cerebral, more.typical of brain dead One Nation Under Disney Fuken World than anything else.:0) ignore them..they are imbeciles trying to jerk off their brains and spittin hair balls.

William Y.
William Y.4 years ago

I agree with Dottie Lydon. The current crop of so called comedians just aren't funny. They should study the antics of the Originals on SNL, that was funny.

Preston Turco
Preston Turco4 years ago

OK, I was going to say that the commercial was no biggie. However, I just talked to my friend who is a pre-op transgendered female and she found it offensive. I sort of take the George Carlin point of view in that nothing is sacred. That being said as I'm not transgendered and those that are find it offensive I stand in solidarity with them.

Gloria H.
Gloria H.4 years ago

SNL isn't funny. Boring ,way too many commercials ,and New York local humor which I don't get.besides..past my bedtime.. I would much rather see them take on the commercial that touts whittling down periods to a few times a year. How safe can that be? with the side effects stated? whew!! A person must be very dedicated/determined- to go through a regime of questionable hormones for any reason knowing possible danger to health.

Alice B.
Alice B.4 years ago

Join me in joining GLAAD: I signed on in 2010 & am about to renew my membership for 2011. TIME TO JOIN TOGETHER to fight homophobic genocide across the USA & also around the globe. STAND UP FOR LOVE AND JUSTICE!

florin r.
oana r.4 years ago

There are some who wear beards on You Tube and they consider themselves trans women. However in Romanian sites that discriminate against transgender people, know enough

Dotti Lydon
Dotti Lydon4 years ago

I don't watch SNL anymore unless Tina Fey is to be on. I am with Patricia A. It used to be funny with Gilda Radner, Jane Curtin, Dan Akroyd, etc. Not funny anymore.

Mary L.
Mary L.4 years ago

Shari, quite often humor is a way of isolating and denigrating people. I'm old enough to remember the same jokes morph from "why did the idiot" to "why did the polack" to "why did the..." I'm still hearing the same joke today, just a different group being singled out.

Do transwomen have more pressing issues? Please read Les L. post.

There is a movement to use transwomen and transmen as the latest symbols of fear and repulsion since it's now politically incorrect to offend homosexual men and women with "jokes".

One day they'll be accepted. I wonder what group will be next?
I'm sad that you are that intolerant of anyone who's not your ideal. I hope you don't discover one day you fit one of your own disliked "types"

Katie Blackshear
Katie Blackshear4 years ago

Honestly, that show has sucked for the last 15 years. This is just a new low that shows how desperate they are to be "funny". Even if it at the cost of an innocent person. I can proudly say that I don't watch that show, and now, I will NEVER support it in any way, form, or fashion...