So here of late transwomen have taken a bit of a beating in the news, it seems. There was the SNL “Estro-Maxx” skit which featured bearded guys in dresses mocking the hormone treatment of transsexuals. Hey, lookie there, what a surprise, here we are again- the punchline of a joke. Ha ha, Look at the funny bearded men in dresses growing breasts. They aren’t making much of an effort, just growing boobs and wearing dresses, and it’s funny because that’s what MtF transsexuals are, see?. It am funny, am it not?
Yeah. Belittling the struggle of transsexuals is super funny, so long as you view them as something other than, yannow, human. I know. We’re oversensitive and need to grow a sense of humor. Here, have a laugh on me.
Again, I have to point out… if it was a commercial about taking a drug to make black people become more white, would it still be funny? Watching them wearing hip hop clothes with perhaps some awful plaid Bermuda shorts and white knee socks?
So then we move on to The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Craig loves the gays. Craig is sensitive to the gays and their plight. So that’s why we get his “half-sister” played by a bearded hairy man in a skirt named “Peg”. We get jokes about his naughty bits being on display while he sits there in a skirt with his legs open, he gets called a “he-she”, and it’s all oh so funny, isn’t it? So long as being a transsexual is a joke, then you betcha. It’s freaking hilarious. Here, look for yourself.
Oh yeah, that was a barrel of laughs right there. But is it really a serious problem? To answer this, I think that Meghan Stabler, a member of the board of directors of the HRC of all places managed to sum it up best.
“We should all be shocked and appalled with what was coming out in the
current narrative of comedy. The lives of gay and lesbian people are
being woven into the fabric of TV shows such as GLEE and Modern
Family. Even though we have a long way to go before full rights are
afforded to us, we can still be shown as equals to our peers. Comedy’s
ability to mock that part of our community has significantly lessened,
but has it done so at the risk of emphasizing the focus on the
I think it has, and it needs to stop.
To many of us who have journeyed along the deeply emotional and
stressful path to transition our gender, the parody and acting
portraits were utterly offensive. Hidden behind and along that journey
is significant stress, deep emotion, extreme risk and even worse —
suicide or homicide.
To live our lives authentically takes deep courage mirrored with the
real fears and deep-rooted societal prejudices that all too often
manifest themselves as workplace bigotry, un- and under-employment,
loss of family and friends, and most unfortunately, harassment and
Some will likely argue that the portrayal was humorous, a joke, but in
true comedy there is always a punchline. Unfortunately for this one,
and for us, there was no punchline, unless you regard transition as a
joke and therefore transgender people as a human punchline. In doing
so, the comic must also understand that in conveying it as humorous
comes the risk that sometimes transgender people will be the punching
But then we get to the Living Social Super Bowl commercial.
Now, at first, I wanted to sigh and call it yet another cheap shot at our expense.
But then I started looking at it and considering it.
The big burly lumberjack starts getting great deals. They open his horizons. He moves fluidly from one experience to the next, exploring life and tasting the sweetness of it until finally we see him as a transwoman, elegant, well-dressed, hair done up nicely, makeup just right for the occasion. She appears to be happy, confident and in control of her life. She comments that Living Social helped her blossom, and changed her life. And it could change yours too.
There is no mean, harsh jab here. There is no belittlement, no human punchline. There is no lack of a joke if you are trans. Only a montage of the journey of one man to discover all that life has to offer and exploring what he wants from it and who he wants to be… and eventually finding herself. It is a transwoman being shown with dignity… yes, with some humor, but it is still better treatment of the condition than I think I’ve seen in a very long time.
We are quick to come to the forefront and say when we are angry. When we see oppression, we jump to the defense, because people need to understand that it is wrong, and that we will not sit quietly and be mocked. We are human beings and deserve respect. Yes, we are quick to fight, because it is still so much a part of who we are, and who we must be in a world where we have so few rights and we are fifth class citizens.
But let us not be so confrontational as to forget to take the time to thank those who see that struggle and turn a kind and even eye to it for us. To those who might show us in a kinder and nobler light. To those who may see us not as a joke, but instead as brave and courageous explorers of the human experience. When someone takes the time to show us in such a light, let us take that same time that we would to vociferously defend ourselves, and instead thank those who see us as people.
So thank you, Living Social. Thank you for painting us in a positive light. Thank you for not making us a punchline in an unfunny joke.
Thank you for seeing and portraying us as human beings.
Written by TQ Nation Contributor: