Saturday, December 31, 2011

US ABC's TV Program - Work It

Work It Article


The ABC network in the US is launching a new program in 2012 called “Work it”. According to a media release, “with unemployment an ongoing issue and women now outnumbering men in the workforce, the new comedy series “Work It” follows two alpha males who realize the only way to beat the current "mancession" and land a job in pharmaceutical sales is to pass themselves off as women.

The program has caught the eye of many GLBT groups in the US who see the program as stereotyping transgendered people who are already marginalised.

One of the publicity photos shows the two main characters dressed in female clothes standing at a urinal supposedly attending to their bodily needs. Not what I would call a flattering shot.

Now Rebecca, you have been looking at this story and I know that you are not really a happy with it.


That’s putting it mildly Jayne. The new US ABC show “Work It” is nothing but offensive, and it hasn't even been seen yet, Not only is it disrespectful to transgendered people, but also to women in general.

First of all, the show uses a couple of timeless cinema clichés, that any man who wears a dress will flawlessly pass as a woman, and that any woman who sees such a person, will be so dumb, they have no idea this person is not a woman. I'd even say it is a safe bet, even though it hasn't been seen yet, but there will be a male boss who hits on one of the characters, in what can only be described as “ticking all the boxes of why we have a sexual harassment handbook”.

As a trans woman, this show does nothing but enforce the stereotypes that have been forced on me my whole life, which I have been trying to break down since transitioning. I am not a man dressed up as a woman, I am a woman who had a medical condition, for which I received appropriate treatment. And while it has not cured me, as no such “cure” currently exists, the treatment has enabled me to function normally, in the dysfunctional society we live in.

What the show “Work It” says to people, is the life of hardship I endured didn't exist at all. I'm simply some guy in a dress, as are all trans women. Beneath the make up and hosiery, I’m still a manly man. Nothing could be further from the truth. Despite what the posters for the show suggest, it's physically impossible for me to stand at a urinal, and expect anything but wet legs.

The show also suggests that the women who work in the office are unable to spot a guy in a dress, making people question just how dumb the show thinks they are. As such, there will be people, and I fully accept a minority, who will go out of their way to harass trans people, just to prove they are not as dumb as this show makes them out to be.


The US ABC network has in the past seemed fairly supportive of transgender people but this seems to be a bit of a turnaround for them Rebecca


“Work It” is undoing decades of education, simply by appealing to the narrow-minded populous, and their sense that anything outside of their world, is comical, worth laughing at, and wrong. Considering the American Broadcasting Company has done much with their news programmes, particularly 20/20, to education the community about Transgendered Issues, it certainly raises questions as to why they now want to undo all that work, just for a few cheap laughs.

Over my time, when people have found out about my past, I've often heard their next phrase been “Oh yeah, I know all about that, I've seen Pricilla, Queen of the Desert, or There's Something About Miriam, or Some Like It Hot; I know all about that kind of stuff”. Well they may know about that kind of stuff, but that's not me, nor is it the majority of trans people out there. It is simply mixing farcical fiction, with fact, and making one hell of a mess.

An analogy that is often used when it comes to being offensive is to relate gender issues to racial issues. Could you imagine the outrage, if these characters were to put on black face to get jobs? Yet for some reason, people think it's ok to make fun of people who are transgendered, by putting on a dress. It simply will not do.

In recent years, we have seen many advancements in the recognition of transgendered people as people, and not second class citizens. We have the right to correct our birth certificates, we have the right to travel on a passport with correct gender markers, we have the right to seek medical assistance, to work, to be treated as worthwhile members of the community. There is still a very long way to go, before we are treated as equal of our peers in society, and unfortunately “Work It”, means it is one step forward, one thousand steps backwards in achieving that goal.


Comment from a very emotional Rebecca, you can get off your soap box now and take a rest and play something.

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