Will Glee Get Away with Transphobic Remark? Yeah, Probably.

Will Glee Get Away with Transphobic Remark? Yeah, Probably.

October 27, 2010 Featured Thought of the Gay 15

Last night, Fox Network’s show Glee took on the challenge of a Rocky Horror tribute.  As a Gleek and a Rocky fan, I was excited to see the show, particularly to get to see who had the great honor of dressing up as Dr. Frankfurter.  I was pleasantly surprised by Finn (played by Cory Monteith) dressed up as Brad and playing the awkward, but surprisingly attractive dork we’ve all come to love.  Perhaps more surprising was Mike Chang’s (Harry Shum, Jr.) offer to play the famed Dr. Frankfurter.  I gasped at the thought of him prancing around in fishnets and leather.  Then, disappointment and, dare I say, horror, hit when Mike not only advised that he cannot play Frankfurter in the performance, but that it was because his parents didn’t want him “dressing up like a tranny.”

The line could have easily been altered or perhaps left with an implication to the audience (as it’s generally obvious why a conservo-head parent would object to their son dressing up as Dr. Frankfurter).  Perhaps it could have been “dressing up in fishnet stockings” or “revealing that much of my body publicly,”  but no… it was the T-bomb and highly inappropriate.

I take great offense to the use of the word tranny (and even reluctantly use it here); although, I admit that many transgender people often use it to describe themselves.  Regardless of context, I flinch at the word.  It is the “T” equivalent of “fag” in my opinion – and the opinion of many of my dearest T friends.  Perhaps even more shocking was the silence.

During the episode, my Facebook wall and twitter stream exploded with “Rocky this” and “Glee” that, but upon the pronouncement of the T-bomb, not a soul, sans perhaps myself, said one thing about it.  Imagine, if you would, that the writers of the show had changed Mike’s line slightly to say, “”I really want to do it, but they’re just not cool with me dressing up like a fag.”  The outrage from my LGB brothers and sisters would have been evident.  Queerty, Americablog, Bilerico and all the others would have rushed to be the first to stand up against the outrageous line and demand an apology (in spite of the fact the show is generally “gay mecca”).

So where is the outrage?  Where are the demands for an apology?  The silence is not music to my ears.

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15 Responses

  1. […] I realize that there is a large controversy about whether tranny is an okay word. I am not the right person to address that. What I do know is that while I was watching, there were innumerable Facebook and Twitter posts from other people who were watching, and I have yet to see a single word about this problem from anyone EXCEPT Jay Morris over at jaysays.com. […]

  2. Styxie says:

    I posted this as a statue last night on my fb page. I was very disappointed that only 2 of my LGBTQI friends responded to it. Here is the status:

    "Would you support a politician or media entity who, whether openly or discreetly, wants to deny your civil rights?

    Then WHY are you watching Glee??"

    Glee is a show that Fox Network openly markets to a broad gay audience. They do it for ratings. Fox is a network that does what it can to court conservative audiences with a conservative agenda.

    Conservative agendas usually mean NO Gay Rights in this country.

    Plus, I hate the stupid show show.

    I hear soooo much from the gay community about throwin Obama under the bus for not coming through with campaign promises. "Closing the GAYtm."

    Then why is so many of the LGBTQI community basically handing Fox millions of dollars every time they tune into this show???

    Make a stand..turn Glee off.

  3. Jude says:

    I completely missed the word tranny. Eek. Wonder who their advisers are.
    @Styxie – I've had the same thoughts. I'm not sure of the corporate structure. Some folks have told me Fox News and the network are more like, cousins.

    I guess I would have to say I would rather have Glee on. It is educating people. Just don't let the folks at Fox News know about Glee. If we all keep it a secret, maybe all the shows will become pro-LGBT and the crazy talk show hosts (because Beck, O'Reilly etc are NOT about the news), will die off.

    Who knows? Maybe Fox will come up with a show about a repulsive news network that is total spin for the Republican party. Lord knows they should have no trouble getting material for that one. Oh. Wait. That's Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Different channel.

  4. Styxie says:

    I do not think it portrays a good message at all. Kids BULLYING other kids on a Prime Time show? I just do NOT get why the LGBTQI community supports this show! But that is just me, I guess.

    As for Fox and it different 'Divisions'…one hand feeds the other..and it is feeding one bank account. Tho they may have it set up to APPEAR to be separate bank accounts and separate divisions.

    I can see I am talking a losing battle here. The community will defend this show till the end. I am happy to say I will not.

  5. Monel says:

    I have no interest in this show one way or another – But must say that this seems like a lot of hooplah over nothing – Seriously aren't there some slighly larger real issues in the world than the correct use of terminology on an escapism TV show ?

    • ZoeBrain says:

      I agree. Why it would be no worse than changing the line from Stevie Wonder's "Living just enough for the city" to say "they don't use common people" instead of "they don't use colored people", then having a line about “dressing up like a n1gger”

      I mean, there'd be no fuss made about that, would there?

  6. Michelle D says:

    I am SOOOOO FU%$EN dissappointed in the Glee Rocky Horror Show!!!!!

    RANT #1 – The bright red lips came on screen and started to sing, i got a tear in my eye, I saw Meatloaf and Brad where going to be in it, I was so excited….and then…it turned into a normal show with a few songs thrown in…WTF!!!

    RANT #2 – A transvestite played by a female…why you ask…I will tell you. They said in the show it was because, the male's (who was supposed to play Frankenfurter) parents said they didn't want him "dressed up as a TRANNY"!!!!!

    RANT #3 – "TRANSSEXUAL" is too naughty of a word to say on tv!!! Transvestite is ok to say. TRANNY is ok! Touch me…"I want you to fill me" is ok to say. "Pelvic Thrust" is ok to say as the cast stands in a line thrusting behind each other is ok. but the word "transsexual" had to be taken out of the song because it is too dirty…too naughty…too vulgar to say on prime time tv.

  7. Michael says:

    I think glee is overrated but I was drawn to this article from the Rocky Horror picture show as it will become a new video game.

  8. bean says:

    and apparently transvestite is ok, but transsexual is not… as they did not change that lyric.

  9. Alex Blaze says:

    Maybe read my site before critiquing it?

    I didn't specifically ask for an apology, I guess you have a point there. But I don't think I've ever demanded an apology from anyone in 4 years of blogging. Just not my style.

    • jaysays says:

      My apologies, Alex. My psychic powers failed me when writing this. Clearly, you guys did cover it, but well after this post was published, so I was unaware (but did "do" due diligence). My "demand for an apology" statement was more rhetorical. We go up in arms about so many things – but this one nearly slipped threw the cracks.

  10. ReidFTM says:

    Okay well as a 'tranny' I don't really care… So they used the word tranny because a transphobic parent told their child they weren't comfortable with their offspring dressing as the opposite sex. I think that's valid, everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

    In today's world, entertainment is entertainment. If everyone got offended by a so-called racial slur they saw on television set racism is all we'd ever talk about.

    Tranny just like Dyke, or Fag (both of which I've never been offended by and known others who have never really taken offensive) are just labels. Words we as a community and as a people have chosen. Little words to apply to the astrix's in our society but little words none the less. So who really cares?

    • Michelle D says:

      just like the word n1gger….we can use that again…it is just a word society has used as a label for the asterix in the world!

  11. Jude says:

    Actually, it's the only episode I have watched. I don't have the impression from friends that the gay character is picked on. But if he is, I hope they write the script so people can see it is wrong. Enough of my gay friends like it so there must be something presented in a positive light.

    Let's not throw out the baby with the bath water. Glee can be a force for creating social change. Let's encourage that.

  12. […] I realize that there is a large controversy about whether tranny is an okay word.  I am not the right person to address that.  What I do know is that while I was watching, there were innumerable Facebook and Twitter posts from other people who were watching, and I have yet to see a single word about this problem from anyone EXCEPT Jay Morris over at jaysays.com. […]

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