News and commentary for the transgender, gender-nonconforming and allied community.
Posts tagged transphobia
Glee debuts first transgender character in two-episode arc
Glee has long stood to me and others as a prime example of the hypocrisy of the mainstream so-called LGBT rights movement. In addition to the fact that Glee creator Ryan Murphy’s previous series Nip/Tuck stands as one of the most transphobic TV series ever produced, Glee'sonly acknowledgement that transgender people exist had previously been limited to a character in their Rocky Horror episode saying he couldn't play Dr. Frankenfurter because his parents didn't want him “dressing like a tr**ny.”
And I do mean the only acknowledgement. That same episode the producers chose to cut the word transsexual from the song “Sweet Transvestite”. They had previously done the same thing for the sole reference to “transgendered” people in their performance of “Born This Way”.
PopCrush provides a brief synopsis of the first of two planned episodes which aired on Tuesday:
[Transgender character] Unique, part of the show choir Vocal Adrenaline, approaches Mercedes and Kurt as a young man named Wade (played by Alex from ‘The Glee Project‘) who wants to wear a dress on stage and unveil his flashy alter ego. It appears at first that he came to the right place, to take advice from two of the show’s bravest characters.
But even Kurt, it seems, has a lot to learn. When Kurt advises Wade not to become Unique on stage, it is evident that he doesn’t understand what trans people go through. “You identify as a man,” Wade tells him, and when Unique takes the stage, it’s obvious that this is who Wade is. Unique is the true identity, and Wade is the fiction. Unique, of course, brings the house down with her moves.
I’ve long been a critic of Glee never having featured any trans* characters. (I even created a Change.org petition to encourage them to do so.) And while I can’t forget Murphy’s attitude towards trans people in the past, I’m cautiously optimistic about this development.
If one more person tells me that because Stephen Colbert is a comedian, he can say whatever he wants about whoever he wants and it doesn’t count, I am going to vomit.
Where was the Colbert Nation when Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a slut and his side tried to defend it by saying he’s just an entertainer and saying outrageous things is just part of his act?
Or do the masturbatory peuso-liberal masses only break out that excuse when it’s someone they like being an offensive, bigoted twit?
If you defend Stephen Colbert for making jokes at the expense of transgender people but have ever gotten angry about some random asshole making a rape joke on twitter and saying “calm down, it’s just a joke”, go fuck yourself.
Colbert’s odd “other people” joke treads the line after recent transphobic remarks
In the wake of a transphobic joke last week, The Colbert Report featured a rather odd joke on its most recent episode.
In a segment titled "The Other War on Women", Colbert featured a quote from Herman Cain attempting to explain why President Obama is more popular with women voters than Mitt Romney:
"I think many men are much more familiar with the failed policies [of Obama] than a lot of other people."
Colbert commented on Cain’s quote, saying “Yes, other people than men. That’s not partonizing to women, that could be any kind of ‘other people’: castratos, cyborgs, the list goes on for two.”
Now, I might be (and probably am) reading too much into this, but there is a lot of weirdity about this joke considering Colbert’s past.
First, there’s the fact that there are plenty of people on this planet who identify as something other than male or female. However, it’s pretty obvious that by ‘other people’ Cain was referring to women (and it’s doubtful he’s even aware non-binary people exist), so it’s hard to criticize Colbert for mirroring Cain’s language.
The real strangeness comes into play in Colbert’s list of people other than men who are not women. I could go into how while there’s certainly nothing preventing a cyborg from ascribing to a non-binary gender identity, most depictions of cyborgs in popular culture do depict them as male or female. However, since cyborgs are fictional, let’s not waste too much time dwelling on them.
Castratos (techincally ‘castrati’) however are a bit more problematic. Castrato is defined by Wikipedia as “a man with a singing voice equivalent to that of a soprano, mezzo-soprano, or contralto voice produced either by castration of the singer before puberty or one who, because of an endocrinological condition, never reaches sexual maturity.”
Colbert’s implication that a man who loses his testicles (or never had them?) or perhaps one who hasn’t gone through (male?) puberty isn’t really a man reeks of cissexism and gender existentialism, but considering that the practice of making boys castrati is long ended, I’m sure they seemed a safe target, and there inclusion can be more realistically ascribed to lazy joke writing than any sort of intended malice.
What really strikes me as odd is how Colbert seems to go out of his way to ignore the existance of trans folk. There’s a standard practice in comedy known as the rule of threes, stating that lists of three are inherently funnier. The rule of threes is all but universal in comedy (Colbert himself usually sticks to it) and extends all the way back to the Catskills so to any comedy fan Colbert’s listing of only two sticks out like a sore thumb.
It’s almost as if Colbert was acknowledging how easily he could have taken another throat jab at transgender people but didn’t. One wonders how long the Report's writing staff took to figure out how to make a joke essentially mocking the idea of gender variance without directly attacking trans people (which I doubt they're stupid enough to do so quickly after their last flirtation with transphobia).
So to sum up this long, rambly post, I’m not sure if I should take this joke as a sign of progress (that Colbert has finally learned his lesson about not mocking the trans community) or if Colbert not acknowledging trans people at all is in fact a step backwards. And if it is progress, will it last only as long as the memory of his pink slime faux pas remains fresh in people’s minds?
Of course, if Colbert ever decided to include any positive coverage of the trans community or had an openly transgender guest on once in a while, that would certainly put the question to rest.