Cross-dressing comedy no laughing matter
LOS ANGELES: A new US sitcom about two unemployed men who dress as women to gain sales jobs has been blasted before it has aired by a number of LGBT advocacy organisations for promoting transphobia as well as being demeaning towards women.
The ABC sitcom, Work It, due to premiere on January 3, 2012 follows the lives of two, unemployed heterosexual men who eventually land jobs as sales representatives for a pharmaceutical company after dressing as women.
“They’ve learned the hard way that the current recession is more of a ‘man-cession’ and their skills aren't in high demand,” the show’s tagline states.
Groups such as the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), Transgender Law Center and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) have said that promos and trailers for the new show seemingly reinforce mistaken transgender stereotypes.
“Transphobia is still all too prevalent in our society and this show will only contribute to it,” GLAAD’s acting president Mike Thompson said.
“It will reinforce the mistaken belief that transgender women are simply ‘men pretending to be women,’ and that their efforts to live their lives authentically as women are a form of lying or deception.”
Transgender Law Center executive director Masen Davis said that a report, Injustice at Every Turn, published earlier this year by the National Center for Transgender Equality and The Task Force showed high rates of unemployment and discrimination faced by transgender people in the workforce.
"This show is debuting at a time when women continue to face high rates of workplace discrimination and get paid less than men, and when transgender and gender non-conforming people face extraordinary levels of violence and discrimination in their communities and the workplace,” Davis added.
“The premise of this show, that it is easier to get a job if you present as a woman, is absurd.”
Meanwhile, the HRC has launched a petition urging ABC to not air the show’s pilot episode early next year.
“Across the country, hundreds of thousands of transgender Americans face very real challenges in the workplace. In 34 states you can be fired for adhering to your gender identity. Many states also lack basic protections for gender identity in hate crime and youth bullying laws,” the petition reads.
“We have a shared responsibility to ensure the messages about gender identity we send to the public, and particularly youth, are positive ones. It is never appropriate to belittle or mock those who do not adhere to society's gender norms or the struggles they face.”
It is unclear whether there are plans for the show to screen in Australia.