GLAAD | Human Rights Campaign | Television | Transgender

LGBT Groups To ABC: Don't Air 'Work It'

Work It
, ABC's new, probably-doomed-to-be-canceled-anyway sitcom, is a show about two heterosexual, out-of-work car salesman who dress as women to secure employment as pharmaceutical reps. The show features no transgender characters, but according to GLAAD and the HRC, it demeans transfolk anyway. From GLAAD's press release:

During a period in which the transgender community now routinely finds itself in the cultural crosshairs, the timing couldn’t be worse for a show based on the notion that men dressed as women is inherently funny.  In fact, shows like this have the power to put the transgender community in an even more dangerous position.

GLAAD has seen the pilot and while the show’s pilot does not explicitly address transgender people, many home viewers unfamiliar with the realities of being transgender will still make the connection. Work It invites the audience to laugh at images of men trying to adopt a feminine appearance, thereby also making it easier to mock people whose gender identity and expression are different than the one they were assigned at birth.  Said GLAAD’s Acting President Mike Thompson, “Transphobia is still all too prevalent in our society and this show will only contribute to it.  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.”

The show's pilot must have been a lot worse than its preview. At least in the preview, Work It's writers seem less interested in the "inherent funniness" of men in dresses than in the comic potential of subverting heterosexual gender roles. Watch it AFTER THE JUMP.

GLAAD and HRC are asking ABC to pull Work It from the air. If ABC elects to run the show anyway, it'll premier on January 3rd.


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  1. I am all for critcizing things that demean folks and pressuring organizations to give additional thought to broadcasting/presenting them. But this does not do that. This over sensitivity by GLAAD, and in my own personal experience in general, transgenered folks who haven't yet become comfortable in their own skin yet, does nothing but make the LGBT community look like thought police who want to censor EVERYONE else over the smallest thing... I am glad to see so many other sensible opinions expressed here. Lighten up GLAAD and the Trans folk who are offended. No one is making fun of you.

    Posted by: Antony | Dec 17, 2011 2:55:02 PM

  2. This show may actually be more so a commentary on gender itself than on trans people. I think we have to wait and see. There are certainly a LOT of shows on British television that play with men dressing as women, etc. and I think British society is perhaps one of the most progressive on this issue. Is the show mocking trans people or exploring stereotypes/humor about men and women - as does most drag performance?

    Posted by: mike128 | Dec 17, 2011 3:02:11 PM

  3. isn't it just bosom buddies but modernized?

    tom Hanks sitcom from way back when bosom buddies had 2 straight guys dress as females to secure an apartment

    Posted by: say what | Dec 17, 2011 3:04:16 PM

  4. I liked the Concept/previews....looked good to someone who saw Bossom Buddies - same idea - diff. concept...instead of a cheap place to live, they need Jobs......looks innocent enough to me

    Posted by: Gay american | Dec 17, 2011 3:09:19 PM

  5. In June during the last gay pride cycle, there were a couple of articles about transgender people demanding that men in drag be banned from gay pride celebrations. I thought about getting all crazy about this ("getting my panties into a twist") but then it occurred to me that there are many, many transgender people and the fact that two of them took it upon themselves to issue and ultimatum does not represent the the entire trans community any more than what GOProud has to say represents the views of the gay community.

    It would be very amusing to have an episode of this where a coworker comes up and starts a conversation about how hard it is to be trans and that they are glad they work in an accepting workplace that bars transgender discrimination. This could either be someone gay, a transgender ally, or a transgender actress/actor. And they could offer some make-up tips.

    It will be interesting to see if they try and mine humor about the women's restroom. The opponent's of transgender anti-discrimination protections try and paint transgendered people as men who want to be able to get into the women's restroom so they can rape the women there.

    Posted by: Charlie | Dec 17, 2011 3:11:06 PM

  6. i'm just wondering why so many non-trans people are coming on to tell trans people how they should or should not feel about something that will indeed cast a light on them.

    seriously. there are a lot of gay men commenting, from a typical place of Online Anonymity, telling transpeople how they should feel about this.

    this is puzzling to me.

    so, my fellow gays, isnt' it time we actually stopped talking and started to LISTEN to what actual transpeople have to say about this, rather than telling them from our non-trans perspective how we think they should feel?

    just a thought.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Dec 17, 2011 3:15:17 PM

  7. RICK, can you provide the URL to your own page or youtube video where you show us all what a strong masculine empowered gay male role model you are?

    you keep complaining about Glee and Modern Family. that's useless.

    how about you instead show us all how you represent the community as a strong masculine gay man?

    it's easy. i can do it. click my name you'll see my stuff.

    so, please provide the URL to your own video. thanks.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Dec 17, 2011 3:17:50 PM

  8. Kiwi, I'm impressed with you . You usually lambast anyone you disagree with, but here you're actually showing respect for others. At least you can appreciate differences and assume the good will of others WITHIN the LGBT community, if not outside of it.

    As George W. Bush would say "I guess I misunderestimated you!" And pleae keep in mind that I admitted I was wrong about GOProud.

    Charlie, I can only speak for myself here, but it won't surprise anyone to know that I oppose these bills allowing transgenered men to use the ladies room. I am actually not worried about transgendered people at all. What I'm afraid of are straight men POSING as transgendered man in order to gain access to women and children in a vulnerable position. Of course such men can enter ladies room's NOW, but then they'd be bounced out right away because anyone would be able to see that they aren't really women. Such men would be able to lurk freely if we change the laws.

    At the very least, let this bathroom issue wait until later when other transgendered rights have been one. Again, timing is everything when dealing with social change. It was not long ago politically that any conservative who brought up the bathroom issue was accused of hysteria and trying to scare people needlessly because everyone just KNEW that no judge would rule that any man, regardless of his situation, had a right to use a women's rest room,

    Posted by: Mary | Dec 17, 2011 3:47:58 PM

  9. I will pile on with those who are sayign that this has already been done on network TVwith Bosom Buddies.

    Far be it from me to tell trans people what they should think and how...even today, I do think that, for example, Jack Tripper (who masqueraded as a gay man in Three's Company in an inoffensive way)...but then again there's Jody Tate on Soap (which I would find offensive today, as his character 1) wasn't supposed to be a masquerade and 2) he had a demon-possessed exorcised by Jessica I think about it now, there was a whiff of homophobia to all of that).

    So...there's many different ways this series could work out.

    Posted by: Chitown Kev | Dec 17, 2011 3:52:19 PM

  10. LITTLE KIWI: TJ (the first to post on this thread, not the second, although the pretender to my thrown does have some interesting things to say) here. I am waiting for a response from a trans person to explain. As I stated, I am conflicted. Do you have a link to a source that would help me understand? Other posters here have brought up some interesting points, particularly about drag and its being practiced, arguably as an art form, for ages. I could take or leave it (mostly leave it, but to each his own). Do we now ban all drag? The movie "Tootsie" has been mentioned. I thought it brought up some interesting ideas about gender ("being a better man as a woman") along with many laughs at Dustin Hoffman's character but never at transgendered individuals. Should I now feel ashamed?

    I actually get most PC stuff, and agree with it, but this isn't making fun of people who dress as the opposite gender because they feel it is what truly represents who they are inside. As I suggested earlier, I doubt that the people who don't get that there is a difference between cross-dressing and transgender will ever get this. But this isn't calling someone a "tr*nny." I truly would like the offense explained better than it has been so far. Sometimes, I think some of the PC sensitivity goes too far. Any day now, I expect that redheads will form an anti-defamation league and rail against being called a "Ginger."

    Posted by: TJ | Dec 17, 2011 4:21:02 PM

  11. I loved Bosom Buddies when I was a kid. I'm not trans now, but GLAAD is dreaming if they think they'll get ABC to cancel a scheduled show before it airs. What they're really doing is giving it free publicity.

    I expected the clip to be awful, but it wasn't. It wasn't superb, but most TV isn't.

    In any case, this site seems to attract very few actual trans people, but it would be nice to hear more of their perspectives. My view is similar to that of most posters, and if these clearly cross-dressing men are accepted by their coworkers, that could be seen as a plus. But again, it's obviously not intended to be a reflection of any real-life experience.

    Posted by: Paul R | Dec 17, 2011 4:30:59 PM

  12. it's not what you do that matters, it's how you are about it.

    Tootsie is indeed an intelligently-written satire and its genius is that it puts a man in the direct line of fire from the misogyny of other males while he's embodying Dorothy.

    Priscilla? That's about drag queens, not the same thing. Drag is an intentional and self-aware act. Some Like It Hot? A relic from the past, a farce. Bosom Buddies? 80s. 'nuff said.

    Victor/Victoria? again - there's a lovely story of love between a gay man his bond with a straight woman throughout the picture - it's a farce.

    i'm not here to debate what's right and what's wrong - i'm saying we gay men shouldn't be telling trans people how to feel about this. we should be listening to them about how they feel about this.

    so, i'd love to hear from transpeople.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Dec 17, 2011 4:31:35 PM

  13. Bossum Buddies rip

    Posted by: Jamie | Dec 17, 2011 4:37:57 PM

  14. a great meta twist would be to have an actual trans character who sees through the charade and wakes them up to the realities of tension and prejudice that transpeople face.

    but that would be a bit too high-minded, eh?

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Dec 17, 2011 4:44:11 PM

  15. Transgenders tend to be anti-gay. I don't know why we've included them in the umbrella "GLBT".

    Posted by: jason | Dec 17, 2011 4:53:16 PM

  16. Or...maybe it's a compliment that the shows writers chose to emulate transgender persons?

    Posted by: Fred | Dec 17, 2011 5:13:16 PM

  17. Why is this discussion of transphobia only about men dressing as women? What about women dressing as men? Shouldn't GLAAD condemn Glenn Close for dressing as a man in Albert Nobbs (as well as in Hook)? We should certainly cease all performances of As You Like It since Rosalind disguises herself as a boy - Shakespeare was undoubtedly transphobic in his Elizabethan take on gender roles. Barbra Streisand should be pilloried for Yentl, and the same for Katherine Hepburn as Sylvia Scarlett.

    Posted by: Ruddigore | Dec 17, 2011 5:16:21 PM

  18. It's not prejudiced, just banal, uninteresting, and stupid. Next!

    Posted by: Casper Whineburger | Dec 17, 2011 5:17:41 PM

  19. Sometimes I wonder if the only way to satisfy some activists would be to outlaw humor of any sort. I was brought up to believe that laughter is good for you...while this doesn't strike me a quality television, I hardly think it will damage the case for true transgender people. If you don't like the show, don't watch it.

    Posted by: Brad Silverlight | Dec 17, 2011 5:32:54 PM

  20. To be completely FAIR here, and I haven't seen the show so I will not take a stance either way, but these characters are not TRANS, so *exactly* why the outcry about how they presenting trans individuals? In so far as I can tell, EXACTLY like "Bosom Buddies", this show is depicting two decidedly heterosexual men masquerading as women. Therefore, the comedy lies in the humor of how heterosexual men try to emulate the facade of femininity, etc. These are not trans characters being mocked as they transition and struggle to adapt. Shouldn't this be seen, if we are speaking to offense, as sexist humor and not Transphobic?
    I just want to raise that idea as a point of consideration and discussion.

    Posted by: Joey | Dec 17, 2011 5:47:21 PM

  21. JOEY: And, heterosexual men awkwardly dressed as women would expect to be laughed at. They are "in" on the joke that would be about them and not about trans individuals. I too see these as different things. But I'm still waiting for the horse's mouth to speak, so to speak.

    Posted by: TJ | Dec 17, 2011 5:58:21 PM

  22. You know, if you close one eye and squint just a little this is really trans people telling the "cis-gendered," who they carp about quite a bit, setting up rules about how they are ALLOWED to act and represent themselves. Traditionally cross-dressing comedies are about a person who "has" to dress as the other sex for some reason; they're FORCED to do it to see their kids (Mrs Doubtfire), get a job (Tootsie, this show), find a place to live (Bosom Buddies), or to hide from people who want to kill them (Some Like It Hot). There are actually a LOT more films about this but these are just the best-known, most successful. (There's several about teen girls dressed as boys, and usually another boy falls in love with "him," causing gay panic, then the male character often decides they don't care they love this "boy" anyway. Then the female character reveals her real gender and societal values are reaffirmed, but there for a while the possibility of gay love is there.)

    But all those excuses are just what Hitchcock called the MacGuffin, the think that sets the plot in motion but nobody really cares about that much- it's really about how the characters interact afterward. And usually there's a lesson in there somewhere about what it's like in the other person's shoes. And who's to say where this show could go with the theme? ABC isn't a backward network so they may have gay OR trans characters planned (there was a trans character on ABC's Ugly Betty). So why not wait until they DO something offensive before getting "offended?"

    And Little Kiwi, Some Like It Hot may be old but it's also one of the earliest, boldest example of gay and/or trans acceptance in American film. It's played for comedy, not drama, but by the end of the film Jack Lemmon is planning to marry Joe E Brown and he's learned that he enjoys being a girl. It's the first time I know of that homosexual desire (vague and unstated as it is) isn't treated as revolting and it's the HERO who's feeling it. That shouldn't be dismissed casually.

    Posted by: Caliban | Dec 17, 2011 6:12:46 PM

  23. It's just a bad remake of the 80's show starring Tom Hanks..Busom Buddies...

    Posted by: del | Dec 17, 2011 6:32:23 PM

  24. This looks hilarious.

    Hey self-righteous Homos. Learn the difference between transgender peeps and straight men doing bad drag before you try to "educate" people about lgbt stuff.

    I work with a trans gal and the last thing she wants is to be lumped in with every hairy drag act.

    Posted by: mintylaramie | Dec 17, 2011 6:38:19 PM

  25. Hey GLAAD, your PETA is showing.

    Posted by: JonQPublik | Dec 17, 2011 6:54:52 PM

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