GLAAD email to Correct David Letterman on Transgender Parody

From Gladd Blog

“Late Show with David Letterman” Contributes to Problematic Reporting on Amanda Simpson

January 6, 2010 by Anna Wipfler, GLAAD's Transgender Advocacy Fellow

Yesterday we reported on President Obama’s appointment of Amanda Simpson as a senior technical advisor at the Commerce Department and some of the problematic news coverage about her becoming one of the first openly transgender presidential appointees.

Unfortunately, as coverage of her landmark appointment continues, so does the disrespectful treatment in the media. During last night’s “Late Show with David Letterman” on CBS, David Letterman announced Simpson’s appointment and reported that she is a transgender woman. He also showed a photo of her. The show’s announcer Alan Kalter then reacted to the news with disgust and mock horror, saying, “What? Amanda used to be a dude? My God!” He then hurried off stage to hearty laughter from the audience, apparently to go collect himself after the shock of this discovery.

Using this type of reaction to the discovery of a person’s transgender identity for comic effect appears to be a current trend in entertainment media. We’ve recently criticized similar instances of such defamation on FOX’s “The Cleveland Show.” Depicting people reacting in horror to transgender individuals is a dangerous stereotype for popular media to perpetuate because it contributes to the societal conception of transgender people as abnormal and deceptive, which all-too-often results in anti-transgender violence and/or discrimination when played out in reality.

We are reaching out to CBS “Late Show with David Letterman” with our concerns about this transphobic joke. Please send your concerns to CBS at: http://www.cbs.com/info/user_services/fb_global_form.php


MadPriest said...

Surely the joke is that he had hit on her. So perhaps this is a compliment about the lady's mighty fine looks. Personally, I found it amusing and open to various interpretations including it being an attack on the male ego. Transsexuals have won so much through their employment of multi-levelled humour. I hope we are not now losing our sense of humour and becoming as stuffy and literalistic as the enemy.

planet trans said...

MP, I have the highest regard for your humor. It is in fact what helps me to keep a perspective on religion and life. I often go to your blog because I am in a point where my faith is at it's lowest.

That being said, the skit that Letterman portrayed a man, sickened physically upon learning the person he spent the night with was really a man, bolted out of the door, and to do what? Throw up, fume in anger, worry himself that fellow gang members would beat him out of there gang? Or would he quietly plan some retribution perhaps a home invasion and a homicidal beating.

MP, this is my life I am trying to save as I was once beaten and left for dead for being who I am, not funny. This is the 100's of transgender woman that were killed last year so that a man could prop up his sense of bravado and self esteem.

This is the battle that we fought and won when Allen Andrade attempted to us the transpanic defense after murdering Angie Zapata.

You see, many men chase me because I am transgender. To them they see me a fetish item. Like a panty or shoe, used and discarded. Thrown away because to them we are of no value after their fetishistic fantasies are fulfilled.

As long as society allows this behaviour it will continue and I might be attacked and beaten, left for dead, again.

Like Andrade said "I thought I saw IT move so I hit it again."

Do NEVER hit on me. I am a woman for you to respect and a human being fully deserving of gods love.

Not funny MP.

No I worry that I may lose my sense of humor and appreciate you honest concern and opinion, but in the marginalization and dehumanization of myself I take a militant humorless stand.

MadPriest said...

Oh, Kelli, you are beginning to sound like a feminist. You'll be turning butch next and that would be a total waste of a good woman! :-)

But seriously. When you attack a joke, even if it is in the worst possible taste, you make it less possible for me to create change through humour. You will notice that I never condemn the jokes of others on my blog because that would leave me open to the censorship of my jokes (and I have enough trouble stopping my own band of feminists from trying to censor me).

And in England, at least, humour has been a very useful method of achieving change. We have achieved far more by being beautiful and funny than we ever would have by being all militant, serious and, well, "boring, darling."

planet trans said...

MP you truly are the remedy and one of my most valued friends. (((HugZ)))~kelli anne