Neil Patrick Harris | News | Transgender

Neil Patrick Harris Under Fire for 'Tranny' Slur on Morning Show: VIDEO


Neil Patrick Harris apologized today for using the word "tranny" on Live with Regis and Kelly this week.

Tweeted Harris: "Truly sorry for saying the word 'tranny' on Live this week. Twice! Should have been more thoughtful. Didn't at all mean to offend."


Harris, with Kelly Ripa had inhaled from a canister of Sulfur Hexafluoride, a chemical gas that makes your voice deep, and said, "I've never sounded more like a tranny in my life" after doing an imitation of serial killer Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs.

The moment caught the attention of trans bloggers who rightfully condemned the comparison, as well as Dan Savage, who was recently glitterbombed by trans activists who said they were angry about, among other things, his use of the word "tranny". Savage's response to the NPH incident is here.

GLAAD said it is reaching out to Harris about the incident:

It’s heartening to see a celebrity of Harris’ stature recognize and apologize for using the slur in such a timely manner, and for greater media attention being paid to its use.  Many people do not realize that the word "tr*nny" is one of the most hurtful and dehumanizing slurs that transgender people hear.  Most transgender people associate that word with personal experiences of violence, hatred and derision.

GLAAD is reaching out to Mr. Harris about the incident.

Clip is posted, AFTER THE JUMP...


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  1. It's not about the words used, it's about the intent behind them.

    There was no malice here. Context is everything.

    If he had said he sounded like a faggot on national TV I would have been surprised, but not offended, because he is one.

    If a straight guy who has done -nothing- to advance the cause of gay rights came out and used the word faggot referring to NPH, I would have thrown a fit.

    Context, people.

    Posted by: Brian | Dec 2, 2011 2:00:12 PM

  2. i did have a transgender house mate for a few years and, after getting flamed a lot for use of that term i asked her about it. she told me that she saw nothing wrong with it BUT i still choose not to use it as it is hurtful to a lot of people.

    Posted by: alguien | Dec 2, 2011 2:02:28 PM

  3. Why the hell is GLAAD "reaching out" to NPH? As they noted, he realized that he said an offensive word and immediately apologized. Does anyone really think he meant it in an offensive way, or that his apology was insincere? I think GLAAD is waisting its time, energy and the resources of those who support it. I'm not one of those people because so much of what GLAAD gets worked up about strikes me as a waste of time.
    BTW, thanks Brian for sharing that great RuPaul quote.

    Posted by: MichaelJ | Dec 2, 2011 2:02:45 PM

  4. NPH apologized. End of story. No "reaching out" required.

    Never knew this was a slur btw. Guess I am out of touch. So be it.

    Posted by: Married in MA | Dec 2, 2011 2:03:07 PM

  5. I can understand why transgendered people would not like the word; NPH recognized that he shouldn't have used it, and he apologized. It's over. There is certainly no need for the hacks at GLAAD to "reach out" to him.

    But some of the transphobia in this comment thread (from a small minority of commenters, thankfully) is truly repulsive to behold.

    Posted by: Glenn | Dec 2, 2011 2:04:03 PM

  6. The hatred in those comments is blinding. And pathetic. His "joke" wasn't funny, and the use of the word T*anny is offensive, yes.

    He apologized, that's good. But apparently there is a lot of work to be done, as this comment section makes clear. You people make me ashamed to be gay. Really.

    i hope transgender people and most of all trans KIDS who read that know that these comments come from a minority of unstable people who have such low self esteem they need to put down people who are weaker than them. They're the minority. Others will welcome you with open arms and love you for who you are.

    Posted by: G.I. Joe | Dec 2, 2011 2:07:42 PM

  7. LOL. Overly sensitive people. Human beings should just stop talking completely. Everyone is offended by something. More important things going on in this crazy word.

    Posted by: Ted | Dec 2, 2011 2:15:22 PM

  8. OK, he slipped up. He realized it immediately and he delviered a totally gracious and REAL apology - none of that ambiguous "i apolgize if anyone was offended.." garbage. This is SO not an issue.

    Posted by: Rob | Dec 2, 2011 2:18:02 PM

  9. I will be having a talk with my mechanic on removing his "Trannys Repaired" sign tomorrow.

    Posted by: gregg | Dec 2, 2011 2:18:41 PM

  10. "Seriously, you'd have to be a moron not to know that "tranny" is an offensive slur."

    I'd say you're ignorant to pass judgement before knowing a person.

    Posted by: PilateError | Dec 2, 2011 2:21:43 PM

  11. I am neither a moron nor a transphobic gay man. I have many trans friends, both FTM & MTF and it's only recently come to my attention 'tranny' is derogatory. I've used the word and never meant it in a demeaning way. Among friends we also use queer and fag when referring to ourselves. Intention and intonation go a long way to alleviate disrespect. Now that I know the t-word is not kosher I'll not use it. I love and respect my trans friends and family.

    Posted by: shimichael Burich | Dec 2, 2011 2:31:17 PM

  12. ZOMG, everyone! Be sure to use an asterisk in tr*nny. It's just too horrible to type the actual word!!

    Posted by: endo | Dec 2, 2011 2:36:40 PM

  13. for some of us who are older, we used the word as a term of endearment for our drag queens.

    i have chosen to honor trans people's position that it is an offensive term.

    i think NPH has done alot of good for visibility and for our community. i have watched him perform and be interviewed many times and he comes off as a really smart, sensitive and articulate man.

    sometimes we slip. when we do we offer a heartfelt apology, learn from our error and endeavor to be better. going after him like this seems like overkill to me.

    Posted by: deedrdo | Dec 2, 2011 2:40:26 PM

  14. Sulfur Hexafluoride sounds dangerous. Won't that hurt your lungs? I should look that up.

    I don't think I've encountered the term "tranny" in real life. I don't think a typical str8 person ever thinks about these issues or perhaps even knows about them. Even the anti-gay groups almost never talk about transsexualism. A passing mention just isn't going to register.

    Posted by: anon | Dec 2, 2011 2:42:17 PM

  15. I've never once heard the word tranny used by anyone outside the lgbt community. And the only people getting raked over the coals for it now are allies and friends of the T's. What a waste of time by the thought police. You'd think they had better things to do, given the amount of actual violence aimed at them in wider society. But some people are just way too uptight. Glad none of the fabulous trannies I know are that obsessed.

    Posted by: mike | Dec 2, 2011 2:43:41 PM

  16. Gay male here... Honestly, I have to say that I have no clue what is and is not the proper lexicon for describing transexuals and transvestites, etc. One thing I do know, however, is that NPH is HOT HOT HOT.
    Love his style, his demeanor, his way. He's awesome beyond words and funny as all hell in the Kumar movies!

    Posted by: Dan Cobbb | Dec 2, 2011 2:47:35 PM

  17. Well the PC police will hate my friends nom du drag "Tranna Nicole Smith"

    Posted by: QJ201 | Dec 2, 2011 2:54:31 PM

  18. Guess that's why you can't find that Christian Siriano "Tranny" SNL skit on YouTube.

    Posted by: Jamie | Dec 2, 2011 2:56:16 PM

  19. i'm a gay man, i can't tell transpeople what words they should or should not find offensive.

    i also self-identify as Queer, and a great many people take issue with THAT word, too.
    but i SELF-identify. i don't identify others as queer. i do indeed have some trans friends who not only dont mind "tranny" by self-identify with it, and use the word.
    HOWEVER, that doesn't mean that *I* use it. Simply put - it's not my word or term, and i don't feel like i "lose anything" by not saying. my joy in life is not dependent on getting to use a word that i frankly have no use for.

    there are all different kinds of transpeople whose feelings for their identity are as varied as the feelings in the LGB communities in regard to our own orientations.

    so that's my stance. i don't use the word, although some transpeople do. it's not my word to use, nor will i tell transpeople how to feel about it. instead, i'll listen to THEM.

    and for what it's worth i keep hearing more non-trans people jumping up in arms about this than trans people. funny, that.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Dec 2, 2011 3:02:38 PM

  20. Wow, you guys all realize that YOU are overreacting...

    Here is the deal, it is a word that offends a group of people when you use it. That is not a debatable or rational fact, it is just the situation and it is anyone's prerogative to be offended by a perceived insult. I for instance have worked with developmentally disabled kids, The R-word is not acceptable, It demeans the kids and we don't need it.

    It is an insult, so stop typing it people! Use an asterisk or refer to it as the T word.

    You are making a choice here, it's a choice to hurt someone else because you are stubborn and because you can. You choose to have zero respect and to be part of a problem. It's a negative choice and it makes you a less awesome person every time.

    You are either a nice, generous person or you aren't.

    Posted by: Fenrox | Dec 2, 2011 3:04:06 PM

  21. To all of you who are saying, "well... now that I know that TRANNY is a derogatory term, I'll stop using it." GROW A PAIR! Now that it's a derogatory term??? Please! It's not. Never has been. Maybe it's considered to be derogatory now because some stuck up little queen at GLAAD had never heard the term before and made an incorrect association with transgendered people. But GLAAD's ignorance shouldn't be the reason why people should stop using TRANNY!

    Posted by: David | Dec 2, 2011 3:05:01 PM

  22. Sticks and Stones my break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

    Old but still good advice.

    Posted by: Lazycrockett | Dec 2, 2011 3:14:14 PM

  23. Oh my GOD...we can't say "Black" (it's African-American). We can't say "fag"(it's gay). We can't say "tranny" (what should we say, transsexual?).

    If you identify as something that's different, expect people to poke fun.

    Embrace and enjoy your uniqueness, but how can you be surprised when people make a point of how different you are?

    I'm different. I'm gay. I don't make a big deal about it most of the time. When I DO make a point about my being different because I'm gay, I'm not surprised when other people also recognize and respond to my being different.

    If you're a transsexual (or tranny or whatever), just be yourself. If you're a good person, and if you're comfortable with yourself, the world will accept you just fine...and most people will be disgusted by those who do not accept you.

    Posted by: Chris | Dec 2, 2011 4:04:08 PM

  24. Its funny..when Christian Seriano from Project Runway was using the phrase "hot tranny mess" no one seemed to mind.I saw Neal and Kelly that morning and though it was funny.!

    Posted by: mark | Dec 2, 2011 4:06:20 PM

  25. @ Lazycrockett,

    Thank you. We must be from the same old school.

    Posted by: Maverick69 | Dec 2, 2011 4:06:52 PM

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