Thursday, January 07, 2010

Just Say Sorry, David Letterman

Ox Freeman of the Alabama Gender Alliance just posted the info from GLAAD about the stupid joke that was made on David Letterman about Amanda Simpson, and with it he commented that, "Trans people will not be safe from hate violence until it is safe to be attracted to us, to love us, and to regard us as human."

He's entirely right, of course, and it's nice to have someone else articulate exactly why I do what I do.

Betty and I are both for trans people having more of a sense of humor, but we both agree: this joke is not even a little funny, exactly because this reaction to finding out a woman is trans is the same reaction that causes the heart-breaking violence trans people -- and especially trans women -- face.

As Allyson Robinson of HRC put it in an article by ABC News:

"Your skit affirmed and encouraged a prejudice against transgender Americans that keeps many from finding jobs, housing, and enjoying freedoms you and your writers take for granted every day," HRC's Allyson Robinson wrote in the letter.

Robinson said the punch line of the bit has "been used as a defense in nearly every hate crime perpetrated against transgender people that has come to trial." She cited two cases in which individuals suspected of murdering transgender people claimed they did so in a rage after learning about their victims' gender identity.

So now go to and bug CBS, or do the same thing via


Anonymous said...

I might be entirely off base here, but I did not take this skit to be a slight against Ms Simpson at all.

I took the skit to be making fun of those people who react to transgendered people with shock/horror. The actor who ran off was clearly (to me) acting histrionically.

I am not sure that anyone who do in fact react to the transgendered with shock/horror would have found the skit funny. On the contrary, at worst, they would have nodded and thought 'exactly' or, at best, felt that they were being made fun of.

Clearly the skit was ill advised seeing as so many people seem to have reacted poorly, but I suggest that perhaps the comedic target was not the transgendered at all.

Jackie said...

I have to agree with Diane. I've watched it repeatedly and can't get upset. Transphobia took a slap here me thinks...

Anonymous said...

I agree...i watched the clip over and over and its just a mildly funny joke that actually laughs at men. Its a real life parody of how most men really are..its not about us, its about them.. i'm not offended at all..jumping up and down about this is silly i'm sure there is something more serious going on...

TheDeviantE said...

I disagree entirely with Diane, Jackie and Kylie.

"The Crying Game" is not known as "that movie where a cisgendered jerk has a panic attack because of his own damn transphobia" it's known as the movie where "OMG there's a man who pretends to be a woman, EEWWWW" likewise, this skit is centering us as viewers on the importance of cis, straight, males (of which presumably both Letterman and his actor buddy are) and their reaction to trans women's bodies. The laughing way that Letterman says "odd" in response to the actor running offstage in disgust/panic speaks to this for me. In our society, where killers say things akin to "when I found out I was just so disgusted/upset that I ran off and killed her," where tv shows OFTEN have plot "twists" where trans people (women most often) are the butt of the joke/where someone who kisses or has sex or even thinks about having sex with a trans woman is mocked mercilessly for it, this is NOT an odd reaction at all. It's downright normative.

Additionally, as C.L Minou points out at her blog, he specifically calls her "a transgender person" as opposed to "woman". I'm not a fan of the idea that all trans people are some third, totally separate gender. Not to mention that the information is totally dropped as soon as the actor reacts (we don't find out a single thing about Simpson's MANY qualifications).

So frankly, when I see this skit, I see the audience laughing AT this guy running off stage because of his presumed relationship with Simpson.