GLAAD slams 'SNL' sketch for being transphobic

Saturday Night Live has come under fire for its last week’s “Estro-Maxx” mock commercial, which GLAAD says was a “dangerous and blatantly anti-transgender segment… the punch line of which was the lives of countless transgender people across the country.” NBC didn’t respond to our request for comment.

More from GLAAD’s statement:

The piece was a mock commercial for estrogen replacement therapy and featured men with facial hair wearing dresses, meant to represent transgender women. This segment cannot be defended as “just a joke” because there was no “joke” to speak of. The attempted comedy of the skit hinges solely on degrading the lives and experiences of transgender women. Holding people up for ridicule simply on the basis of their identity fuels a hurtful climate and puts people in danger, especially given how infrequently the media shines a fair and accurate light on the lives of transgender people. “The violence, discrimination and harassment that transgender Americans experience each and every day is no laughing matter,” said GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios. “Saturday Night Live is a touchstone of American comedy, but Saturday’s unfunny skit sends a destructive and dehumanizing message.”

So is the sketch transphobic? Of course it is. The argument that it’s simply satirizing the tropes of drug commercials doesn’t hold water: If it’s supposed to make fun of pharmaceutical commercials, then why are all the laugh lines at the parts that just make fun of transwomen’s bodies?

Why can’t people just take a joke? Because transwomen’s experiences are only ever held up as jokes (with very rare exceptions), and it’s exhausting. What’s more hilarious than a man with breasts! Lots and lots and lots of things.

I thought the “Estro-Maxx” commercial was lazy and unfunny at best, PopWatchers. What about you?

Comments (222 total) Add your comment
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  • Carrie #2

    I was waiting for someone to get upset about this. It really wasn’t all that funny and I’m not surprised people in that situation found it offensive.

    • Amy

      My thoughts exactly.

      • J Milano

        Someone always has a reason to complain…doesn’t mean you have to.

      • Jennifer Never Wrong

        Margaret Lyons = Feminazi

      • Foxer

        Jennifer Never Wrong = A$$wipe.

        Skit was exactly what Lyons said, lazy and unfunny. Pointing that out doesn’t make anyone anything but observant.

      • oh no

        First The Dilemma, now SNL. Get over it GLAAD!!!!!!!!!!

    • Shay

      Oh puleeze !

    • BrandonK

      I was also wondering what the response from the transgender community would be. Unfortunately, it was as expected. I guess they (especially those like GLAAD, whose job it is to be on the lookout for discrimination) feel too oppressed and defensive still to take a silly skit like this in the intended light. From my perspective, it’s a pretty progressive sketch in a way. You don’t see a lot about transgendered folks in any context.

      • tcc

        No it is not progressive, people have been making fun of transgender people for a long time. Nothing progressive their at all.

      • Josh

        GLAAD likes to think it is the voice of the gay, lesbian and transgendered community, but I assure you they aren’t. They have no sense of humor, and add more embarrassment than anything.

      • AcaseofGeo

        I thought it was pretty funny. I think it must be horrible to not feel comfortable in your own body to the point that you would alter it so drastically. I feel for TG people, but I don’t really “get them”. I dont think they are part of the LG community because we are a community of people who are in same sex partnerships. TG’s don’t relate to themselves in this manner. I guess they are included under our umbrella because of the lack of understanding regarding their lives and emotions. I guess I’m rambling, but my point is I thought that the “ad” was amusing and I don’t think GLAAD speaks well for the LGBT community. GLAAD is like PETA: They have very good intentions but go so far overboard in their rhetoric that it marginalizes the cause more than it helps it.

      • Delon

        @BrandonK: For a split second i thought the sketch was progressive, but the more it continued the more it became tasteless and foul. It wasn’t making fun of the drugs, it was crassly making fun of transgendered women which made my initial laughter freeze on my face. It was sexist and fascistic.

    • victoria

      totally agree. if these people who were commenting, saying things like “it’s just comedy” were actually trans, I think they’d feel differently.

      it also wasn’t remotely funny – SNL’s writing has been terrible for years now

    • Ken

      F GLAAD.

      • Nathan

        Yeah, they’ve really got their panties or whatever they wear in a bunch over this. Trust me, we don’t need SNL to realize how humorous trannies are, the comedy basically writes itself.

      • Erik

        You disgust me, Nathan.
        If you’re not trans, do NOT use the word “trannies”…it’s so offensive. If you ever end up with cancer, I hope when your hair falls out and you’re in pain, the nurse laughs in your effing face. See how funny it is.

      • Miranda

        Won’t happen Erik. I’m a nurse and I’m transgender and I can say with certainty that jerks like Nathan don’t get cancer, only nice people do. It sucks, but it’s true.

      • Shelly

        Erik are you really comparing being a tran to cancer? So your point is that being a tranny is like having cancer? Last time I checked, no on chooses to have cancer, as they do to have a sex change.

      • Erik

        No, I’m comparing getting chemo to trans. Because you don’t choose to get cancer, but you choose the treatment. So…you don’t choose to be transgender [ read up, ignorant folks, it happens in the womb ] but you choose to transition to make life for yourself better.

    • Cygnus

      SNL makes no less than 20 gay/lesbian/tranny jokes every episode. Always has, always will. It’s also no secret that Andy Samberg is an openly gay man, and writes many of the gay/lesbian parodies that SNL shows. Why doesnt GLAAD speak out about the blaxploitation skit about Bride of Blackenstein they did last week also?

      • Alissa

        because blaxploitation has nothing to do with gay/lesbian/bi/trans issues…

      • cattyfan

        For the same reason GLAAD says nothing when conservatives, Republicans, and Christians are skewered. They only get upset when it’s them on the hot seat.

      • John Berggren

        Come on. The blaxploitation was making fun of blaxploitation films. It wasn’t mocking the black experience. And GLAAD is the GAY AND LESBIAN ALLIANCE AGAINST DEFAMATION. This is their mission. It’s not the Christian Anti-Defamation League.

      • anonymous

        Did you just OUT Andy Samberg ?

      • Nan

        HUH?! Am I the only person who didn’t know he was gay? I have never heard that before.

      • Kimberly

        He’s NOT gay! His DAD is gay, and he talks about that, but he is not personally gay.

      • Erika

        Andy Samberg is not openly gay, if he’s gay at all. He has a girlfriend.

      • It’s Twue!

        Sweet! With that big nose and big mouth, that means Andy has a big _____. He can do “The Creep” on me anytime.

    • Dominic

      There’s nothing funny about singling out a marginalised minority and just laughing at them like freaks. This is all the skit did. Margaret is right – it was lazy, unfunny and a missed opportunity (drug companies deserve fair more scrutiny that we give them).

      • We got Dodson here

        Yes there is, and comedians do it all the time. Watch any of the best comics, and they all do bits that make fun of certain groups of people. Gay, Christian, Black, White, Mexican, Asian, you name it. Sterotypes are fun to laugh at when not being done in a hurtful way because most of them are based in some sort of truth. If you don’t want to be offended, stay inside your home with the curtains drawn, radio and TV off, hide your kids, hide your husbands, hide your wives, cuz they rapin’ everybody out here.

      • Debra

        I think people need to learn to take a joke! Transgender people leave themselves open 4 this. You have 2 admit..it’s a pretty extreme way of living your life, & it certainly isn’t normal or healthy. God made you the way HE intended1

      • Erik

        Yes, Debra you’re right…God made me the way I was intended. Transgender. End of story. Thanks for your validation. =_=

      • Crowded Room

        Yuck!!

    • Alan

      It was stupid, unfunny and offensive. I’m not ultra-PC and I often find risque humor funny, but this was just stupid. Do they really think this is funny? Is this 1985? Acting like transgender people are just guys in beards with boobs, is just stupid. It was really lame and really offensive, and yes, I do have a sense of humor normally.

      • millie

        I’m sure you do have a sense of humor, when the joke is on blacks, hispanics, celebrities, republicans, etc. But somehow transgenders should be sacrosanct. Get over it.

    • matt

      I think the punchline was supposed to be the speed and uneven nature of the new pill (resulting in people that look like the men in the commercial), but that joke did not come across well at all. I also think the casual presentation (treating a sex change as something as commonplace as calcium pills, etc.) was supposed to be a main punchline, but that was also unclear.

      • Denise

        Thank you for actually trying to explain the skit.

    • Jason

      Does that mean it would be ok if it WAS funny?

      SNL should have known better.

      Then again, if they knew better, we wouldn’t have had some of the horrible sketches we’ve had the past few years.

    • lovethemgays!

      I am so tired of Gay Peoples!

    • Fog cue

      Margaret Lyons always has something to gripe about – what else is new?!

    • ****

      I think I can remember the last time SNL was funny but I can’t be sure. The early ’90s was so long ago.

    • Tonks027

      Agreed. I knew as soon as I saw it that it rubbed me the wrong way. If I thought that, then I knew GLAAD would say something.

  • SLB

    I thought it was pretty damn funny.

    • Bobby’s Robot

      Offensive or not, it wasn’t funny at all.

    • 4815162342

      I thought it was funny, too. Sorry, but it was.

    • Jason

      Regardless of whether or not it was funny, humor is the best ice breaker for any topic. If you can get people to laugh about something, and see the absurdity of the situation, then you can probably get them to talk openly about the subject somewhere down the line. While I don’t get the whole Trans deal, I think humor is anyones ticket in.

  • anonymous

    It’s a bloody comedy show. Get a sense of humour.

    • Kate

      Aren’t comedy shows supposed to be funny? Margaret’s right, this sketch was lazy and offensive.

    • Jason

      for the record, in order to be a comedy show, it has to be funny. SNL has not been funny since the VERY early 80’s, and even then it was pushing it. If Lorne Michaels didn’t have Jesus’ personal cell phone number, that show would have been yanked in the late 80’s. But, humor is humor- even if they miss the mark, they are still at least trying to make you laugh. Some folks take things too seriously. Except my firm belief that SNL is not funny, ever. That is worth the fight!

  • andy

    slamming is what wrestlers do. GLAAD is stupid anyway.

    • GLAAD

      I know you are but what am I?

      • bill

        Irrelevant and celebrity-obsessed.

      • Jason

        Hi Kettle? Yeah, this is the Pot. Yeah, no I’m fine. Thanks for asking. Listen, I uh, need to discuss something with you on a serious level. Go ahead and have a seat, champ. Oh boy, how do I say this? I’ll just say it: you’re black!

  • LOL

    It was very lazy, but I didn’t think it was offensive.

  • LAJackie

    Is SNL ever funny?

    • Jason

      Never, not once.

  • Katja

    I have to agree. Most of the jokes relied on “Look at this male cast member with boobies!” and that does seem kind of offensive. Not to mention lazy, and not particularly funny (though I did chuckle at the side effect about watching “Say Yes to the Dress”). I can understand people finding the sketch inappropriate and offensive.

    • Daniel

      I thought the skit was “OK” until the end line about “Say Yes to the Dress” and then I chuckled. Otherwise it was a typical SNL commercial that wasn’t necessarily funny but wasn’t downright bad. Just like most of their shows the past few years.

  • DL

    Every group of people is fair game, including transsexuals. In a given year, I hear astronomically more jokes about Mexicans, Jews, African Americans, women, etc., than I do about the transgendered. Why is it okay to mock all of these other groups incessantly, and not okay to mock the trans community once? Virtually every single other racist/sexist joke is in poor taste (though poor taste and hilarity are not mutually exclusive), so why is it surprising that this one is in poor taste, too?

    • Amused

      Right on!!! SNL uses the same poor taste and crassness against to many people…its a sign of equality that its finally setting its sights on the transgendered.

      • Teresa

        I wouldn’t say that SNL is “finally setting its sights on the transgendered.” They’ve done it before. Some years ago, they had a transgendered character, Mango, who appeared in a lot of sketches. She was pretty funny — actually one of the better recurring characters on the show.

        It’s not like comedy can’t be offensive just because it’s comedy. If you’re a comedian and you never offended anyone, either you’re Bill Cosby or you’re just not trying. So, SNL is going to offend people occasionally and some group will respond, and we’ll have this conversation and it’s all good.

        The worse accusation is that they’re lazy. I don’t know if lazy is the right word, since putting on a 90 minute show is hard work. But… have a better vetting process, SNL. Get a little more diversity in your writing room. You know who did these kind of parody commercials a million times better? Tina Fey.

    • anya

      That was what I was saying, because if you watched SNL this week, you saw that a lot of the skits used racially charged jokes, as well as sexist jokes. But they were just jokes, and some of them were actually really funny, and SNL needs funny where ever it can find it in its current state. While this fake ad was not funny, and I guess I can sort of understand why they were offended, they should lighten up a little.

  • Jon

    Thanks for adding the words “transphobic” and “transwomen” to my vocabulary. I’m going to sound so cool when I bust them out at a party.

    • Crowded Room

      Bwaaaaahahahahahahaaaa!!!!!

  • mikeman

    is it just me, or does glaad need to get thicker skin. seems to me that all it does is complain about comedy shows and bully gay and lesbian actors into being role models for their sexuality.

    • mark

      It is just you. Heterosexuals, white people, and men are all lucky that they receive different privileges in society. Maybe you identify with none of these, but I have a feeling you do. People who are privileged seem to be the people who are the last ones to understand why people who are in minorities or are marginalized fight things. Open your mind.

      • leems

        Do you understand comedy? Satire? Anything? But your right, when will SNL wake up and start making fun of straight white men! That never happens, does it?

      • Jay

        did you the the digital short? That looked like it was making fun of straight white men to me…

      • Bob

        Actually, it’s not just him. But thanks for speaking for everyone.

      • Molly

        It’s not just him. Open your own damn mind. It’s not all about you. People in the majority are not intrinsically “bad” and being a minority does not make one intrinsically “good.” I’m sick of people who are eternally offended and act like only straight white males deserve ridicule. If you’re fighting for greater societal inclusiveness, it’s better if you don’t insult and alienate everyone else in the process.

  • Wow

    Its funny to me liberal GLAAD doesnt like something, and EW jumps behind them to the death, But something like The Parents Television Council doesn’t like something and EW goes after them with pitchforks.

    • kat

      Because the Parents Television Council is basically a hate group convincing everyone that it’s protecting family values. GLAAD is flawed but its intentions are far better than The PTC’s. And they’re right in this situation. I’m glad EW is behind them about this.

      • ok

        Ahh the hate group stand by. At least you didn’t through phobic behind a word as you guys usually do.

      • Wow

        Oh they are both flawed. I just see very little difference between this argument and PTCs argument against Skins, which got practically a whole article in this weeks issue denouncing it. EW is coming off a bit hypocritical.

      • Waaaaaah

        So if GLAAD was a boy, and EW was a boy, and EW’s behind GLAAD, I wonder what they would be doing…..

  • Miss Talk

    Chris Brown coming on SNL next week!!!
    *With Michael Jackson’s voice*WOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOO !!!

  • HD

    I was more offended by how un-funny it was. But also agree it sends a terrible message to the masses.

  • Obamaniqua Jones

    It was a bit out of line.

  • javi

    those f*** went after eminem years ago and nothing now they go after snl and the same thing is going to happen nothing these fa*** are only trying to get publisity and the only thing they are going to get is more gay jokes what a bunch of fa** idiots.

    • Audrey

      Hey, Javi. What’s your email address and/or phone number? If you’re going to say something this ignorant and hateful, be a MAN and reveal yourself.

    • Franklin

      You’re sooooooooo OBVIOUSLY black or HisPANIC. What’s up w/ the typos, bad grammar, and terrible English? You no ‘speaky’?

      • Mr. Holloway

        What javi said was obviously heinous.

        But how, exactly, is your comment supposed to help/any better?

      • comixchick

        Get back under your rock, Frankie.

      • Annette

        Wow Frankie just wow that comment made you seem stupid, racist and prejudice all at the same time! You want equality yet the words that you typed did not make you any better than anyone else.

      • Bob

        You guys are aware that he probably is just trying to tick you off, right? Relax.

      • Franklin

        I’m sorry if I offended anyone other than Javi. My point was to give Javi a taste of his own medicine. I myself am a man of color so I understand if anyone was bothered by what I wrote. I happen to also be gay and Javi’s comment irritated me to the MAX.

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