This week’s episode of the sitcom Mike & Molly featured an unfortunate “joke” at the expense of transgender people. In the scene, Mike is talking with Carl, his police partner and best friend, about his history of picking up downtrodden women:
CARL: It’s been a long time since I’ve trolled for bus pass ass.
MIKE: (Laughing) Not since the shemale incident of ’08. You spent the whole night crying and gargling!
CARL: Learned a lot of lessons that night.
Not only is the term “shemale” incredibly offensive, the clear implication of the scene is that being with a person who is trans is both traumatic and disgusting. Humor at the direct expense of a group of people, especially one so targeted for discrimination and violence, is not humor at all.
GLAAD has reached out to CBS, a network that has struggled to depict LGBT people fairly and that often uses trans people as the punchline for “jokes”:
This morning, GLAAD spoke with CBS’s Vice President of Diversity & Communications who is discussing the issues directly with the show. CBS has also committed to meeting with GLAAD staff to discuss the offensive scene, as well as a number of other incidents on CBS comedies and dramas in the past year that increasingly add up to a disturbing trend. GLAAD is calling on CBS to put an end to anti-trans content for the sake of a laugh and to treat trans issues with greater sensitivity.
Hopefully CBS offers a thoughtful response and finds a way to incorporate more respectful and authentic portrayals of all LGBT people.