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. @Mary: Transgendered men who identify fully as male generally have no interest in using the ladies' room. They would be using the MEN'S room under progressive, trans-friendly policies.
    If you look at Paige Elliott Phoenix from Austalia's X Factor, for example...
    ( )
    ...I don't care if he has a vagina (nor do I even know whether he does or not). It's none of my business. He identifies as a man, he looks like a man, and if I saw him go into the men's room and take a stall, I'm sure no one would bat an eye. In the women's room, he might easily elicit concerns or offense because he clearly doesn't look like he belongs there.
    There's no evidence that in any jurisdiction with trans-inclusive policies there is any increase in non-trans people posing as the opposite sex to get their jollies listening to women pee.
    Nor is there any reason that such a person would break the rules to do that under trans-inclusive policies if he isn't already breaking the rules to do that where there are regressive policies.

    Posted by: GregV | Dec 17, 2011 6:55:43 PM

  2. WRONG BATTLE, people!

    Posted by: JWL | Dec 17, 2011 9:14:33 PM

  3. Here's the way I see it.. What is different about "Work It" vs. other shows in the past is that the characters are dressing in women's clothes to obtain a job that they supposedly would not obtain as men. In other words, using deception.

    What sent many people in the TS/TG community into a riff over this was a promotion that showed both characters in women's office wear standing at urinals.

    This sends two toxic messages to the general public. First of all, transsexual/transgender persons use deception to gain employment. Second, it suggests that trans people do stand to pee.

    Keep in mind, one of the most vocal states in the Work It controversy is Maryland where a public accommodations inclusive GENDA is going before the legislature in this upcoming session.

    I know for me, if the context of this show was something other than the workplace, I would probably not be as offended.. but because we have some uphill battles including the Maryland GENDA bill as well as a nationwide ENDA, which we know will not happen during this show's short run, but the thoughts will be engrained in the minds of Americans.

    For those who are saying that trans is not the same thing as drag and that the trans community should not care about this issue, remember.. us in the community know the difference between trans and drag.. but the average American from Podunk Hollow does not know the difference between a transsexual, a crossdresser or a drag queen. To many people, we are all just a bunch of homos, fags, freaks, trannys, whatever..

    As long as this misunderstanding continues, the discrimination will continue and the violence will continue. We have lost too many brothers and sisters already.

    I feel with less fuel in the fire, we will eventually make progress with equality for all.

    Posted by: Michi | Dec 18, 2011 12:48:01 AM

  4. GLAAD has a long history of picking the wrong fights. I just pissed me off when groups like this claim they speak for all glbt people when clearly they don't. And they most often come off as nothing more then a bunch of uptight crazy cry babies.

    Posted by: intristin | Dec 18, 2011 1:10:39 AM

  5. I think some people have too much time on their hands. Do they want to ban reruns or DVD sets of Bosom Buddies too? If the show is bad it won't last.

    Posted by: fanboi | Dec 18, 2011 1:17:08 AM

  6. I don"t see a problem with this show at all.
    GLADD and HRC are overreacting.

    Posted by: Nelson | Dec 18, 2011 8:52:48 AM

  7. Much ado about nothing. HRC and GLAAD... this is a show about men cross-dressing, much like many other shows over the years. It is not about transexuals, from what I've heard. Pick your battles more carefully. Whether it is/will be a funny show remains to be seen... I suspect not. But, remember the end of 'Some Like It Hot' when the old tycoon found out that his love interest was really a man... "well, nobody's perfect". That was damned funny!

    Posted by: John | Dec 18, 2011 12:02:50 PM

  8. MICHI - The audience knows the truth - that these are straight men wearing women's clothing. I don't know that this will reinforce stereotypes; in fact, this show has the opportunity to skewer them (although I have no expectations that a sitcom on commercial TV will live up to such possibilities) by how it handles reactions from friends and co-workers. It seems too early to tell. But if it makes things worse in any way for a trans person in the workplace, then I would be all for sh*t-canning the show.

    Posted by: TJ | Dec 18, 2011 12:13:14 PM

  9. Yesterday, I canceled my monthly contribution to HRC citing that I was tired of being nurse-maided and having them make the arbitarty decision of what is funny and not funny, what is offensive ad not offensive. Notice how they never touched RuPaul's drag race which is NOTHING BUT STEREO TYPES of the most unimaginative drag performers out there lip synching and being bitchy catty queens. They don't even call each other by their male names when they aren't in drag. As a member of the drag community, that offends me, but because it is on a gay network, GLAAD and HRC leave it alone, probably to do more black-tie fundraising events. But a main stream show that could indeed show, through humor, straight men realizing how hard members of the gay and transgender community's lives really are is being called to shut down because gay people might shatter like glass at the mere thought of being poked fun at on television? Grow a set of balls!!!! I'm offended by HRC and GLAAD being the moral arbiter for our community.
    Yes, there will always be idiots out there who demean us. yes, life is challenging. Yes, it is hard to be a member of the gay community and I believe event harder to be a member of the Transgender community, but please stop telling the rest of the straight world what all gay people think and feel. We don't! Some of us actually have developed a thick skin which we use to fight for our brothers and sisters and don't want to be painted as these fragile, namby pamby delicate creatures made of glass that can't take care of themselves. Stop it already, GLAAD and HRC! PLEASE!!!!
    I will be supporting that show. If it isnt' funny, it will fail on its merits, but I am going to give it a chance.

    Posted by: Kris | Dec 18, 2011 2:35:54 PM

  10. Stupid Concept; Terrible acting; Tiresome potential; Otherwise, a great show. I'll have to try to catch it sometime. Oh! And who is the sponsor?

    Posted by: Jerry6 | Dec 18, 2011 3:34:30 PM

  11. I don't know if this show is offensive in a GLBT sense or not, but if the preview is any example, "Work It" is offensive to genuine comedy, so cancel the damn thing already. "Bosom Buddies" looks like Shakespeare next to this.

    Posted by: bobbyjoe | Dec 18, 2011 5:11:23 PM

  12. Lgbt groups need to chill out. NPH plays a straight man on tv, why don't the go after him too. Geez

    Posted by: Damien StCharles | Dec 18, 2011 8:23:00 PM

  13. @Kris: very well put.

    Posted by: Paul R | Dec 19, 2011 12:41:30 AM

  14. This has NOTHING to do with trans people. They are in DRAG. Totally different. Stop being over-sensitive. Being overly sensitive never helps a cause. It just makes people resent you for being prissy and it waters down real messages if you keep crying wolf.

    Posted by: Stephen Frost | Mar 15, 2012 12:33:06 PM

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