Controversy prompts panto name change
After absorbing a backlash from members of the transgender community for the past few weeks, producers of the Trevor Ashley-starring panto trAnnie have now decided to rename the show to Trashley.
Controversy erupted in late September after the Sydney Opera House unveiled publicity for the Annie parody and “adults only panto” with both the show’s title and its script coming in for withering criticism as being transphobic and discriminatory towards transgender people.
In an initial synopsis, the show was to follow the “hard knock life” of ten year old orphan Fannie who is desperate to have “long-overdue” gender reassignment surgery but must first escape the clutches of boozy matron and registered sex offender Miss Trannigan.
Activists and advocates for the transgender community had argued at the time that the term ‘trannie’ used by non-trans people was as offensive as the use of ‘faggot’ by heterosexual people.
Ashley, who is known as a drag performer, was also criticised for attempting to take ownership of transgender issues without consulting members of the community.
Producers had argued the show’s title came from taking the first two letters of Ashley’s first name and mixing it in with Annie.
Neither Ashley nor the Opera House were willing this week to answer specific questions about the show’s name change and would not confirm whether owners of the copyright to Annie had threatened a lawsuit over the panto’s title or use of imagery.
“My only statement is that due to the addition of two huge stars like Rhonda Burchmore and Gary Sweet, I truly felt that they could possibly steal the limelight,” Ashley told SX.
“I had to change it to make sure everyone knew the show was still all about me!”
SX understands however that the pressure applied by the transgender community – which saw calls to picket the show as well as over 1,000 people sign a Change.org petition calling for its cancellation – did play a role in the decision.
With Ashley and co-writer Phil Scott now close to finishing the script, Transgender Victoria spokesperson Sally Goldner told SX she hoped the final draft would not see transgender people and their issues mocked in derisory fashion.
“The name change is welcome, although issues connected to the plot remain unresolved,” she said.
“An offer to assist in making the script respectful to trans remains on the table.”