Yesterday we reported (GLAAD) on President Obama’s appointment of Amanda Simpson as a senior technical advisor at the Commerce Department and some of the problematic news coverage about her becoming one of the first openly transgender presidential appointees.
Unfortunately, as coverage of her landmark appointment continues, so does the disrespectful treatment in the media. During last night’s “Late Show with David Letterman” on CBS, David Letterman announced Simpson’s appointment and reported that she is a transgender woman. He also showed a photo of her. The show’s announcer Alan Kalter then reacted to the news with disgust and mock horror, saying, “What? Amanda used to be a dude? My God!” He then hurried off stage to hearty laughter from the audience, apparently to go collect himself after the shock of this discovery.
Using this type of reaction to the discovery of a person’s transgender identity for comic effect appears to be a current trend in entertainment media. We’ve recently criticized similar instances of such defamation on FOX’s “The Cleveland Show.” Depicting people reacting in horror to transgender individuals is a dangerous stereotype for popular media to perpetuate because it contributes to the societal conception of transgender people as abnormal and deceptive, which all-too-often results in anti-transgender violence and/or discrimination when played out in reality.
We are reaching out to CBS “Late Show with David Letterman” with our concerns about this transphobic joke. Please send your concerns to CBS at: http://www.cbs.com/info/user_services/fb_global_form.php
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TQ Nation’s thoughts:
In a forum post today on TQ Nation, one citizen posted this:
“Anyone see the Late night show the other night?
He (David Letterman) really did a disgusting skit about Amanda Simpson, appointee to Commerce Department.
I think that we, as a community, need to tell CBS that Mr Letterman needs to apologize for that skit.
These kinds of attitudes are the ones that get trans folk killed, IMO.”
Tristan Skye SPEAKS:
We as a community cannot laugh this off like we have done in the past. In a way, it shows us that the only way society “accepts” us is by mocking us…making fun of WHO WE ARE.
Amanda Simpson should be honored for her amazing credibility and noted for her success, not made fun of. Of course, this is what David Letterman does best and has made fun of everyone in the history of time, it seems. I realize it’s a major facet of his show and fame.
Still, it’s worse to me to target and mock a minority that many people in society fail to understand. It’s makes their ignorance remain that way and tells them, “it’s okay to laugh at them!”
I will note that I give major kudos to President Obama for appointing Amanda Simpson and helping to pave the way for our transgender community. I hope this will help shed light of equal opportunity in the workplace for transgender individuals everywhere…and that it will be included in ENDA.
I guess they can laugh all they want to, but we ARE making progress!
Here’s to a BRIGHT 2010!