New ABC Comedy “Work It” Outrages GLAAD and HRC

Work It (ABC)

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) are condemning the ABC television network, saying that the upcoming cross-dressing comedy WORK IT only "reinforces false and damaging stereotypes about transgender people" and have scheduled a meeting with high-level executives at the network.

GLAAD and HRC fired off their first shot against the series last week. GLAAD issued a statement slamming the show and asking ABC to "consider whether airing this show is worth the damage it has the potential to do," while HRC urged the public to boycott the series.

The series, which premieres at 8:30 p.m. EST Tuesday Jan. 3 on ABC, stars Ben Koldyke as Lee Standish, a car salesman who has been out of work for a year; his unemployment benefits are running out, but there are no jobs to be found. Then he learns that a pharmaceutical company is hiring salespeople - but only women. Once the character Lee begins putting on a dress, wig, makeup and heels the HRC and GLAAD claim WORK IT reflects ignorant stereotypes upon transgender individuals.

There ensue lame jokes about things such as Lee's having forgotten to take his football playing off his resume, his lack of fashion sense, and his attempts to fool his co-workers and keep his wife and daughter unaware of how he finally gained employment. Adding to the supposed merriment is Lee's promise to his friend Angel Ortiz (Amaury Nolasco), who is also unemployed, that if Lee got work, he would get Angel a job at the same place. When Lee finally explains his situation, Angel also gets a wardrobe makeover.?GLAAD has seen the show as mocking transgender people by making light of "the characters' attempts at womanhood." And, while neither Lee nor Angel is transgender, "many home viewers unfamiliar with the realities of being transgender will still make the connection," a GLAAD statement says, adding that transgender people already face discrimination in the workplace and can be fired in 34 states "simply for being who they are."

On its Web site, HRC called for an email campaign to compel ABC not to "air a show that reinforces negative and damaging stereotypes about transgender people."??GLAAD's Web site published a message from its acting president, Mike Thompson, which stated that the show will only add to the discrimination experienced by members of the transgender community.

"Transphobia is still all too prevalent in our society and this show will only contribute to it," Thompson wrote. "It will reinforce the mistaken belief that transgender women are simply `men pretending to be women,' and that their efforts to live their lives authentically as women are a form of lying or deception."

“We believe that the show will harm transgender Americans and because of that, GLAAD and the HRC are asking ABC not to air it,” GLAAD senior director of programs and communications Herndon Graddick.

Said GLAAD: "Not only does it inadvertently further notions that transgender identities are humorous or artificial, but imagery like this is one of the first things anti-LGBT activists resort to when trying to deny transgender people equal access to public facilities and services. We ask that ABC recognize this fact, keep the show's bathroom advertisement out of circulation, and seriously consider whether airing this show is worth the damage it has the potential to do."

In addition, GLAAD said that the print advertisement campaign for Work It is especially offensive, including ads, which depict the show's main characters standing in front of men's room urinals while they're dressed as women. They urged ABC executives to axe them.

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and the Human Rights Campaign have ratcheted up their campaign against the upcoming ABC comedy. The two groups took their argument to the pages of Variety on Tuesday Dec. 27, placing a full-page ad saying the show makes fun of the transgendered. The ad, titled "Message to ABC: 'Work It' Will Harm Transgender People," argues that the series, which portrays a pair of men who disguise themselves as women in order secure employment, will encourage mockery.

"By encouraging the audience to laugh at the characters' attempts at womanhood, the show gives license to similar treatment of transgender women," the ad reads.

Local Transgender Activist and leader of Transgender Equality Rights Initiative, Jacqui Charvet sounded off, "With all the education prevelent from the trans community, as well as from entertainment vehicles such as Oprah, and Dancing with the Stars about being transgender, ABC is shirking its corporate responsibility of being a a leader in non-discrimination, as well as sexual harassment policies, as shown by many successful law suits."

She concluded, "I commend GLAAD and HRC for their leadership, by calling on ABC to remove this discriminatory program. Unfortunately, I feel the only pressure that ABC will accept, will come from their advertisers once our community complains and boycotts their products."

I've heard it said that bringing so much attention to this ignorant, new comedy is only helping promote the show, yet our LGBT Leaders have a passion and duty to protect the transgender community when they feel it's necessary so I commend them from doing so. Equality Florida has worked feverishly throughout 2011 to make positive changes for the Transgender Community here in Florida by adding sexual orientation and gender identity to anti-bullying policies in local school districts protecting our students from discrimination and hate crimes. The T-Community and our leaders are relentless in their works to better educate the world about what it is to be transgender, only to have the world of television continue to depict us in an unflattering fashion and utilize transgenders as the laughing stock. Talk shows which use to educate their viewers now bring T-girls onto their shows only to have their live studio audiences scream out, "THAT'S A DUDE," or "ITS A WOMAN." It's shameful - ignorant - distasteful - and truly a disgrace to use members of our T-Community as some sort of April Fools Joke. With all the gay reality shows on television now a days the LGBT Community is making ground-breaking advances, yet their is still a lack of transgender actresses and transsexual reality television stars as each network always uses a straight man in a dress to portray a T-character which is an insult and the furthest from reality.


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