New Sitcom Promotes Trans Toxicity


Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Kelli Busey the creator of the Care2 petition ABC Do Not Air the Sitcom “Work It.” The show “Work It,” which premiers on January 3rd, features two “guy’s guys” who find themselves without work due to the tanking economy. Faced with continuing unemployment, they dress in drag to get hired at an all-female pharmaceutical company. Read on to find out why the LGBTQI community has serious problems with the this new show.

My life since transition is sustained by low-paying, menial jobs, where every day my right to life is up for debate and attack. While taking breaks at my second part-time job, I got my 1st and 2nd doses of Work It commercials.

The commercials for Work It revolted me.

Earlier in my activist career that would have been all I needed to take action, but I’m older and really wanted an opinion from a larger swath of our community so I posted the commercial on my Facebook. Since most of my 4500 friends are of the same mindset as I about this sort of thing, their reaction was one I expected.

Transgender, Genderqueer, questioning and Intersexxed and the few drag queens I know were revolted.

But I still needed a better consensus, so I went to twitter and queried “ABC Work It.” I was surprised to see that drag artists shared my opinion of Work It. They found that the caricatures representing cross dressers, a close cousin of theirs under the Trans umbrella, ridiculous to the point of sickening.

Drag queens are revolted by Work It.

What about our cisgender allies? Lesbians, gays and straights? Again I searched google and twitter. Our cisgender allies and those who know nothing of LGBTQI people are revolted.

So it is unanimous, everyone was revolted by the Work It concept except a few ABC execs. And now we need the world to take a stand against Work It.

After the petition, sponsored by the Dallas Transgender Advocates and Allies, got picked up by Huffington Post author Emerson Whitney, the Care2 petition nearly quadrupled its number of signatures.

The President of ABC, Paul Lee and actress Rebecca Mader have both defended ABC’s Work It against this overwhelming criticism. But the best either could do was to excuse and validate it as Monty Python, Benny Hill British style of humor. However, neither could or would dare to speak to its potentially disastrous effect on transgender lives. Both knew that Work It in truth is indefensible.

What really broke the camel’s back was the straw Paul Lee threw on: Lee said he didn’t care if or why anyone opposed the concept of Work It as long as it made him “cackle with laughter.” So in essence, Paul Lee believes the promotion of our degradation, humiliation and discrimination potentially resulting in violent acts against us is fine if it reminds him of British humor. And if Work It makes him money and saves his job, the world can “piss off” as the Brits say.

A couple comments made on the petition really confirm my belief that the world is revolted by Work It:

“It’s important because I’m a human being who doesn’t think other human beings should be discriminated against.”

“Some of the dearest people in my life are transgendered or Genderqueer, and I’ve heard time and again their struggles in a binary-focused and transphobic world. Shows like this do little to help them.”

“I am not transgender, nor do I know anyone who is, but I am an intelligent human being and I can clearly see how this show mocks them and their culture. ABC should be ashamed of themselves for this.”

“United Kingdom: I am an FTM, as is my boyfriend, and this is absolutely disgusting. I’ve never experienced such hatred personally, but to make such a mockery of people’s struggles is wrong.”

“Horrible idea for a show; really, men take a job that is litterally [sic] meant for a woman when we earn less per dollar then they do. Seriously, you couldn’t think of better idea for a show?”

“I am a transgender and I would rather television not give people at my school more excuses to torture me.”

Paul Lee, the world is calling out with a louder and louder voice thanks to Care2. Do the right thing. Do not air Work It!

Do you think “Work It” is offensive? Watch the trailer below:


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Photo is a screenshot from trailer, no infringement intended

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Christy K.
Christy Kuppler2 years ago

I remember the movie, "Some like it hot" with Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon, and Tony Curtis, and omg, it was one of the funniest movies I had ever seen!! This TV show is about two guys dressing up as women in order to gain employment, why is everyone up in arms about it?? I think some people are taking it all too seriously, and taking it personally. Men dressing up as women, and acting "girly" is just plain funny unless you are of the mindset that it is perfectly normal behavior to do so. Hey, guess ISN'T normal. It just might be a very funny show, and folks need to lighten up about it!

Donna Cook
Donna Cook2 years ago

I would like to address a comment or two made here. The first one is about men masquerading as women and also playing women's parts in Shakespeare's time. This is very true, and that is because women were not allowed to be on the stage. It was considered unseemly. All parts were played by men, including Juliet. The younger women were most often played by boys.
I, too, remember Bosom Buddies, but I would like to think that we have grown beyond that.

Sarah W.
Sarah W.3 years ago

Asia V. I agree with you. Everything has to be about gays!!!!! There are planty of shows on television that I think are garbage. So instead of bitching about them I DON"T WATCH THEM!!! Just because there are some gender confused people in this world the rest of us can't laugh at a silly, harmless show??? Get a life!!!!!

Gina P.
Gina P.3 years ago

Not funny and adding to the acceptability of bullying in schools, etc. Don't trans and other LGBTQ have enough negative press without submitting them to this?

Bobbie T.
Bobbie T.3 years ago

NOT my idea of entertainment and I will NOT be watching. Don't watch a black man dressed as a fat old woman either. The only thing I get from this kind of programming is a loss of respect for the actors involved. Brothers & Sisters did a wonderful job of including a gay couple from courtship to marriage and adoption. I loved the Kevin/Scotty pairing ; Grey's Callie & Arizona have been great watching their love grow and develope. These are true to life couples played for all the love and pathos of real life, not the bad caracactures of really bad comedy writers with little talent and less imagination. In any case, in comedy as in anything else...if it hurts someone's feelings....DON'T DO IT!!!!

colleen p.
colleen p.3 years ago

guys would play women's parts in theater back then because women were not allowed to be actresses right?

Debbie Brady
Debbie Brady3 years ago

The premise of this show is so far off base it is not even the least bit funny.

The truth is that transgendered people have double the rate of unemployment as the general population. They have four times the rate of homelessness. and are four times more likley to face violence and discrimanation in their communties.

If ABC thinks it is acceprable to make fun of a group of people who face violence and discrimanation daily, then i can only say that if this is what passes for entertainment in this country, I am glad I got rid of my TV years ago.

Diane Friedman
Diane F.3 years ago

I read in the article a quote from a kid, "I am a transgender and I would rather television not give people at my school more excuses to torture me.” This quote was the best reason for me to sign the petition.

Beth Cook
Beth Cook3 years ago

I've seen the previews for this show, and while I agree that it may be offensive to some people I don't think they have to worry about it too much because it looks extremely stupid and crappy and will not last too long and will tank within a week or two.

Christine Stewart

I used to love Bosom Buddies, too- but if this show is offensive to a lot of people, it should be shelved or reworked...