Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert: Reject Transphobia and Respect Gender Identity
  • Petitioning Jon Stewart

This petition will be delivered to:

The Daily Show
Jon Stewart
The Colbert Report
Stephen Colbert
Viacom Entertainment Group
Comedy Central

Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert: Reject Transphobia and Respect Gender Identity

    1. A. Morgan
    2. Petition by

      A. Morgan

      Tucson, AZ

By consistently making jokes at the expense of transgender people, Jon Stewart (The Daily Show) and Stephen Colbert (The Colbert Report) are using their bully pulpit to perpetuate transphobia. Consequently, they are contributing to the perpetuation of exclusionharassment, and violence against transgender people.

The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are the sole or main sources of news for many young people; the shows are watched regularly by 16% of Americans. While Stewart and Colbert may claim to be comedians - and comedians only - their shows constitute a mix of documentary, satire, and journalism in the same vein as the work of H.L. Mencken, Sarah Vowell, and Samuel Clemens. Regardless of their claims, they are influential and their tone has often resonated with the recent cultural shift towards support for equal rights for LGBT people. 

It is this history of broad sympathy for LGBT rights that makes the numerous instances of transmisogynistic jokes all the more jarring. These are not satirical jokes or jokes that "laugh with" transgender people; these are crude, cruel jokes that laugh at and dehumanize transgender people. For example, recently on The Colbert Report, Colbert made a deceptive-transsexual joke during The Word:

"Folks, it’s just like when someone lies to you. Technically, they’re telling you the truth as long as you never find out it was a lie."

[Text on screen] "Or Notice Her Adam’s Apple."

Another example has Stewart commenting on the U.S. Attorneys scandal of the mid-Aughts:

“Here’s a general rule of thumb I have: if you don’t know whether you’ve made a particular mistake more or less than 50 times, that’s not really a mistake. At that point, it’s something you do.

For instance, how many times have I accidentally picked up a tranny hooker at a truck-stop? I want to say it’s in the 50s, but it could be higher. I guess what I’m saying is I’m nearsighted?”

During this segment describing protests in China over a new universal I.D. system, Stewart says:

“But Cow and Chipmunk are not alone! They are joined by Transvestite, who worries that her true gender will be revealed by this new system.”

[Camera shows a person implied by Stewart to be a "transvestite"]

[Voiceover with fake translation] “I am afraid that when I lumber out of my apartment in a tight dress with my scrotum taped back and my large hands covering my adams apple, somewhere, some bureaucrat will know I am a dude.”

There are many other examples documented by Your Moment of Transphobia and other similar blogs. 

It is sad to see Stewart and Colbert diminish their standing as progressive heroes by continuing to use institutionalized transphobia to garner easy laughs. Instead, they should be using their immense skill to point out the weaknesses in the arguments of those who would deny transgender people their basic human rights. However, we suspect that Stewart and Colbert are simply ignorant of the impact of their hurtful words. We also acknowledge that Stewart and Colbert are often only the presenters of jokes written by their extensive staffs. We expect that once their ignorance is relieved, they and their writers will commit to rejecting transphobia and respecting gender identity. 

At heart, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are just too important and too good for transphobia. Mr. Stewart and Mr. Colbert, please stop making transphobic jokes, and please make a commitment to reject transphobia and to respect gender identity!

Recent signatures

    News

    1. Reached 6,000 signatures
    2. My Comments on the Janet Mock 'Colbert Report' Interview: A Good *Start*

      A. Morgan
      Petition Organizer
      Op-ed: Stephen Colbert Showed Piers Morgan How It's Done

      For the first time in The Colbert Report's nine-year run, the show hosted its first openly transgender guest, the ever-awesome Janet Mock, on Tuesday. I've criticized both Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart for relying on cheap, transphobic jokes in the past, as have other critics.

    3. Keep Sharing

      A. Morgan
      Petition Organizer

      Hi Folks,
      I'm still working to raise awareness and to get the petition to the decision makers. Thanks for your support, and please keep sharing in your social networks!
      Andé

    4. Petition mentioned at Towleroad.com

      A. Morgan
      Petition Organizer
      'Case Study In Transmisogyny' Points Out The Uglier Sides Of Colbert, Stewart's Television Personas

      An article titled "A Case Study in Transmisogyny: The Colbert Report & The Daily Show" by Leela Ginelle makes a point of revealing the damaging, transphobic language of the otherwise progressive television show hosts Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.

    5. Reached 5,000 signatures
    6. Facebook Page

      A. Morgan
      Petition Organizer

      Hi Folks,
      Still no contact from TDS, TCR, CC, or Viacom, but the petition was mentioned at Bilerico today (http://www.bilerico.com/2013/12/petition_challenging_stewart_colbert_on_transphobi.php) and at PQ Monthly recently (http://www.pqmonthly.com/case-study-transmisogyny-colbert-report-daily-show/17594).
      I recently started a FB page for the petition, like it? :) https://www.facebook.com/tdstcrpetition

      Petition Challenging Stewart & Colbert On Transphobia

      Petition Challenging Stewart & Colbert On Transphobia "These are not satirical jokes or jokes that 'laugh with' transgender people; these are crude, cruel jokes that laugh at and dehumanize transgender people." -- From a Change.org petition asking comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert to stop employing transphobic humor on their TV shows.

    7. Reached 4,000 signatures
    8. Great Jorb!

      A. Morgan
      Petition Organizer

      Great Jorb Folks! I want this petition to reach the right eyes, and I've been trying to get a response from TDS, TCR, CC, or Viacom as to the best direct contact info for the proper decision makers. Silence so far, but I will keep trying. I'll post updates here. Thanks for signing and sharing!

    9. Reached 3,000 signatures
    10. 750+ Signatures

      A. Morgan
      Petition Organizer

      It's a November 28th Miracle! We flew by 750 signatures today and are well on the way to 1k! Thanks everyone for signing and sharing!

    11. Reached 750 signatures
    12. 500+ signatures

      A. Morgan
      Petition Organizer

      Today we surpassed 500 signatures! Thank you for supporting this cause and for leaving such heartfelt comments. I believe they may make all the difference in softening hearts and opening eyes!
      Today is also the International Transgender Day of Remembrance. I hope you were able to participate in a TDOR gathering in your corner of the world!

    13. Reached 500 signatures
    14. 100+ Signatures

      A. Morgan
      Petition Organizer

      Today we flew past 100 signatures (thanks RAF!). Please continue to spread the word, and I'll continue to work on making the decision makers more aware of this issue.
      Also, thanks for the comments - I think they will really help give some perspective to those who need it.

    15. Reached 100 signatures
    16. 20+ Signatures: Thanks for Your Support!

      A. Morgan
      Petition Organizer

      Hi!
      Thanks for your support! One day I want to again be able to say that I'm a huge fan of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. More importantly, I want The Daily Show and The Colbert Report to use their considerable influence to promote the cause of equal rights for *all* LGBT people.
      I've updated the petition description and letter to be more informative and evenhanded. Please take a look and let me know your thoughts!
      My goal is to reach at least 100 signatures, so please share this petition far and wide.
      :)

    17. Reached 10 signatures

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • Andrew Kirwin NEW HAVEN, CT
      • 19 days ago

      surprising they're this behind

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Jac Cichocki NEWARK, UNITED STATES
      • 23 days ago

      Mainstream media should be providing platforms for trans voices and allowing them control over the narrative discourse of their own lives - not perpetuating harmful tropes, sensationalizing and medicalizing individuals' lives, instigating trans-panic through negative and comedic portrayals, or furthering the marginalization and erasure of the trans identity. These 'liberal' hosts should be above this bigotry - and ethical/moral implications aside, they should understand that this behavior will decrease viewership, not increase it. People are being killed. Get it together.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Ezra Campbell NEW ORLEANS, LA
      • about 1 month ago

      Transmisogyny is disgusting and supposedly progressive talk show hosts need to quit with it.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Nick Bassman OBERLIN, OH
      • 4 months ago

      I adore both Stewart and Colbert, but I'm always made uncomfortable when their humor veers in this oppressive direction. Colbert can at least claim that he's "in character" as a bigoted conservative, but Stewart has no excuse at all. As a progressive and a devoted fan, I'd appreciate a change of heart from two of my heroes who seem to have a very unfortunate blind spot.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Matthew Bain SAN JOSE, CA
      • 5 months ago

      It really hurt the last time I heard Stephen Colbert go off...about Medicare and SRS. Even telling myself 'he's joking' didn't take out any of the sting and pain.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:

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