In the January 29 episode of Saturday Night Live, NBC broadcast a dangerous and blatantly anti-transgender segment which they called 'Estro-Maxxx' - the punch line of which was the lives of countless transgender people across the country.
The piece was a mock commercial for estrogen replacement therapy and featured men with facial hair wearing dresses, meant to represent transgender women. This segment cannot be defended as "just a joke" because there was no "joke" to speak of. The attempted comedy of the skit hinges solely on degrading the lives and experiences of transgender women. Holding people up for ridicule simply on the basis of their identity fuels a hurtful climate and puts people in danger, especially given how infrequently the media shines a fair and accurate light on the lives of transgender people. "The violence, discrimination and harassment that transgender Americans experience each and every day is no laughing matter," said GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios. "Saturday Night Live is a touchstone of American comedy, but Saturday's unfunny skit sends a destructive and dehumanizing message."
We have already been joined in speaking out by the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund and the Human Rights Campaign as well as many other advocates and groups; now it's your turn. Take action and tell NBC it is unacceptable to dehumanize transgender people by turning their lives into a punch line.
For more information, see www.glaad.org/tellsnl
- Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications
Kathy Kelly Brown
- Supervising Producer
- Executive Producer
- Director of Programming and Operations
- President, NBC Network
- NBC CEO
For more than three decades, Saturday Night Live has skewered political figures, taken aim at pop culture phenomena, and tried to make America laugh. But this weekend, the show's "Estro-Maxxx" segment stepped way over the line by making its already far-too marginalized transgender viewers the punch line of a joke.
According to a 2009 survey of transgender Americans, 97% of respondents reported experiencing harassment or mistreatment at their job. Transgender people experience double the rate of unemployment of the population as a whole. Nearly one out of every five transgender people in America has been, or is currently, homeless. Almost half of young transgender people have seriously thought about suicide, and one quarter report having actually made a suicide attempt. At least one transgender person is murdered every month; many more are assaulted.
It is fine to use the lives and experiences of transgender people to tell a compelling story, and there are plenty of opportunities to find humor along the way. But that's not what this segment did. By dehumanizing transgender people to get a few cheap laughs this weekend, you told America that it's okay to ridicule the experiences of transgender people, and you added fuel to an already raging fire of nonacceptance, discrimination, and violence.
I call on you to apologize to the entire transgender community for this segment, to pull this offensive and dangerous material off of your website and Hulu, and to remove it from future reruns of this week's episode.
Thank you, sincerely
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