Jon Stewart | News | Stephen Colbert | Transgender

'Case Study In Transmisogyny' Points Out The Uglier Sides Of Colbert, Stewart's Television Personas

ColberttransAn article titled "A Case Study in Transmisogyny: The Colbert Report & The Daily Show" by Leela Ginelle makes a point of revealing the damaging, transphobic language of the otherwise progressive television show hosts Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Ginelle, writing for PQ Monthly, uses pointed remarks and maddening examples of dialogue from the two host's respective shows to make clear the lack of respect they hold for transgender women. 

Here is a selection of dialogue and Ginelle's commentary, reported by PQ Monthly:

“Governor Bob Riley, of Alabama, is fond of banana pudding…when served off the breasts of a Thai shemale.” – The Colbert Report

Isn’t Stephen Colbert funny? He’s a satirist.

“…President Elect, Obama is meeting every day with his transition team, or in beltway lingo, ‘trannies’.” – The Colbert Report

He pretends he’s a conservative pundit, like Bill O’Reilly, but you can tell he isn’t. He never makes jokes that are actually hurtful to minority groups, like gays and lesbians. It’s more like he’s making fun of conservatives who in real life would make those jokes. Clever, huh?

Stewarttrans“C’mon democratic party. Play along! If your party does not implode, we’ll have to go with our backup scandal. Ed Rendell is a tranny!” – The Colbert Report

There seems to be one exception to this, though. A group he appears to think is beneath dignity, and that feels free to bully. A set of slurs he finds hilarious.


This consistent ridicule is completely unbalanced by any positive representation on the program. Transwomen are purely unseen punching bags, brought out for a quick “laugh.”


Stephen Colbert and his show suffer no loss of luster for this behavior, even as actual transgender women suffer 53% of all lgbtq violent crimes and remain 50 times more likely than any other population to contract HIV.

Though Ginelle is selective in her choice of the host's dialogue, there nonetheless appears to be an inordinate level of allowance for such slurs on television. She also links to a petition aimed at informing Stewart and Colbert of their offensive language, and asking them to correct it.

However, Ginelle won't settle:

As for myself, until I hear as many apologies from the two as I’ve heard “jokes” like these, I’ll get my news and “laughs” elsewhere.

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  1. God, this blog has turned into a traffic grab. The crap they publish gets shriller by the day.

    Posted by: Lucrece | Dec 28, 2013 4:59:38 PM

  2. She has some valid points, of course, but they're smothered by both her cutesy snark and strident attacks. It's a shame she's not a better writer because these are issues that need to be addressed and corrected. She's just not the one to address them.

    Posted by: oncemorewithfeeling | Dec 28, 2013 5:07:40 PM

  3. @Lucrece - And yet, you keep coming back for more.

    Posted by: Gregory in Seattle | Dec 28, 2013 5:08:01 PM

  4. And here I thought "trannys" were transVESTITES, not transSEXUALS. Who knew?

    Posted by: Mother | Dec 28, 2013 5:26:37 PM

  5. education is the key with stewart and colbert, not boycott - don't turn into the religious right or the gop. intelligent comedians, when presented with sound arguments and facts, will be more than willing to adjust their comedy.

    they have leeway to make fun of everybody, and i don't hear the jewish league calling for a boycott of stewart. take a deep breath, and call for a little more sensitivity towards the oppressed.

    Posted by: northalabama | Dec 28, 2013 5:28:05 PM

  6. Couldn't this be a little more about context? I understand it could be taken as an offense but who outside the lgbt community is aware of it as an insult...and the offended group is not even the target of the offense...I don't think it is funny but isn't there a better way to go about it then this? Did they try contacting them? are they just ranting?

    Posted by: epic | Dec 28, 2013 5:33:33 PM

  7. "transmisogyny"

    Posted by: John | Dec 28, 2013 5:43:20 PM

  8. I don't see anything offensive in the first two quotes. The third quote is borderline, but still only works due to Republican transphobia. The main reason you'd take offense to it is your own transphobia.

    It should be noted that there was a big to-do about the word "tranny" already, regarding a movie title. It seems that (like "queer") there's disagreement whether the term is positive or negative.

    And what the heck is "transmisogyny"? We already have a word for transphobia. It's a red flag when people start inventing words we already have words for.

    Posted by: Randy | Dec 28, 2013 5:49:43 PM

  9. Can't speak for Stewart, but I have heard enough of Colbert's comments to know that he speaks "in the voice" of an idiot religious conservative with extreme casual bigotry, all as a way of satirizing real life idiot, sexist, casual bigots like Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly. If these jokes aren't coming out of his mouth when he's himself and not his character, which is not likely if she's critiquing the SHOW, then there is little to nothing to see here.

    Posted by: BreckRoy | Dec 28, 2013 6:07:12 PM

  10. Leela Ginelle makes a point... of taking herself too F'ing serious to be taken serious by actual thinking people. Get a life outside your own head.

    Posted by: 2old2getangry | Dec 28, 2013 6:12:44 PM

  11. @MOTHER - Transvestites are heterosexual men who have a cross-dressing fetish.

    Posted by: DSM-IV | Dec 28, 2013 6:14:43 PM

  12. why is it there is no humor in the trans community? drag queens are constantly criticized for their insensitivity. at the end of the day, nothing is off limits in comedy.

    Posted by: tristan | Dec 28, 2013 6:17:37 PM

  13. We would not accept it if Colbert used the word "faggot" in his program, even if he really meant it as satirization of a conservative bigot.

    Yes, "faggot" is more generally recognized as offensive than "tranny" currently, but come on, let's not pretend that just because something is "satire" that no language is off limits.

    Posted by: Ryan | Dec 28, 2013 6:25:40 PM

  14. I am a staunch supporter of the trans community, but this is such crap.

    This was clearly written by someone who has never seen The Colbert Report. To claim Colbert never makes "hurtful" jabs at other minorities is flat out wrong. He does a horribly racist character named Ching Chong Ding Dong for Christ sake...

    You can scoff and act like it's not actually satire because you need a witch to burn, but the fact is Colbert does more to help the LGBT community by portraying this terribly conservative news pundit, then all your misguided angry trans zines and essays ever will.

    Posted by: Thomas | Dec 28, 2013 6:38:05 PM

  15. Lol! The trans activists have found more people to hate! Colbert and Stewart join the trans activists enemies list, which includes:

    - Dan Savage
    - NPH
    - lesbian feminists
    - members of a teenage girls swim team in Washington
    - a music festival in Michigan
    - a rape crisis and support center in Vancouver
    - gay film maker Diego Luna
    - Jay Leno
    - David Letterman
    - Conan O'Brien
    - Procter & Gamble
    - the Washington Post
    - the New York Times
    - HRC
    - "Cis scum"
    - LGBs, whom they see as stupid marks to be exploited for money and labor.

    That's just a partial list. Colbert and Stewart should wear these attacks like a badge of honor.

    To hell with trans activists. To hell with their hostility, their hatred, their endless Nixon-like enemies lists, their homophobia, their misogyny (which is actually a real thing, unlike "transmisogyny"), their violence, their bullying, and their transjacking of the LGB civil rights movement.

    Posted by: Matthew | Dec 28, 2013 7:07:08 PM

  16. Here's what I want to know: Prior to publishing this article, did the author contact The Colbert Report or The Daily Show? The transgender community is quite small. It's possible that the writers might not understand that these terms are offensive to some people.

    Posted by: alex | Dec 28, 2013 7:10:22 PM

  17. Shut the f up, you faux tw*t

    Posted by: licketysplitz | Dec 28, 2013 7:11:16 PM

  18. The trans community has had a very rough go of it, and has only recently risen up and become vocal. Good for them. It will take some time before humor can be accepted, as it is with many other marginalized groups. It's a balance for comedians to keep in mind. Yes, let's push the envelope, relax and enjoy some humor, but at the same time be aware that this group has a lot of good reasons to be taken seriously and treated with dignity and sensitivity.

    Posted by: throwslikeagirl | Dec 28, 2013 7:17:22 PM

  19. This was annoying to read, and only further suggests that transgender issues are completely foreign to me and should be divorced from the LGB movement. How they became intertwined is beyond me.

    Posted by: Rob | Dec 28, 2013 7:24:54 PM

  20. Tranny outrage! Its been 6 hours since the last incident, so we were overdue. :-)

    Tranny was never an insult. It was used for decades, mostly by trannies. It was only in the last few years that trannies decided that they needed more things to be angry about, so the word was instantly zapped into a terrible slur. How do I know? Simple. I am a tranny.

    The bottom line which I know from personal experience is about 95% of trannies are very damaged people. They desperately do NOT want to look inward, at their own lives and at their own psyches. That task is unpleasant and difficult. It is far easier and more enjoyable to turn one's disaffection outward, to vent one's unhappiness with life on other people. Hence the never-ending list of insults, slights, and jokes that they rage about. The best thing that the cis world can do is to ignore stuff like this. Don't feed into it. Don't give "Leila Ginelle" a reason to avoid looking at herself.

    Posted by: TheSuzi | Dec 28, 2013 7:25:14 PM

  21. Attention must be paid... Outraged judgement (righteousness) is as intolerable coming from the Left as it is coming from the Right. It is usually, if not always, just plain stupi.

    Posted by: 2old2getangry | Dec 28, 2013 7:39:54 PM

  22. That's food for thought. I think many of us, myself included, need to be more understanding of and sensitive to the issues faced by all the people who make up our LGBT community.

    Posted by: andrew | Dec 28, 2013 7:52:14 PM

  23. Talk about having an ax to grind...

    Posted by: Jerry | Dec 28, 2013 8:10:56 PM

  24. You can't laugh at anyone else until you can laugh at yourself. It only shows how low your self-esteem is. Until the trans community deals with its own problems and rises up with some positive role models, you won't get any respect.

    Posted by: Steve | Dec 28, 2013 8:12:20 PM

  25. I wonder how many of these brave souls would be willing to share their stories of brutal oppression at the hands of trans people if TowleRoad required linking one's account to, say, their facebook profile?

    Posted by: Thedrdonna | Dec 28, 2013 8:18:41 PM

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