Saturday, 16 April 2011

Bad News is Not News (where transphobia's involved)

I mentioned a few posts back that this blog has gradually turned into a kind of Trans Comedy Watch, ever alert for examples of transphobia falling out of the lazy mouths of cissupremacist comedians. This week, however, has witnessed a major episode of 'comic' transphobia about which I have yet to shoot my mouth off, due to me being shagged out from running around like a blue-arsed fly working on the You Didn't Win campaign, your honour.

However, on the grounds that I seem to have made the task of nailing transphobic comedy bastards in this blog a glitter-coated millstone about my neck, it behoves this blog to turn its divinely mascara'd eyes in the direction of one Russell Howard. This 13-year-old comedian and child prodigy, who first came to public attention on Mock the Week, the show which forces Dara O'Briain to slum it with much lazier comedians for half an hour each week in return for a regular paycheck from Auntie Beeb, has this week...hold on, I'm being handed a note...what, really? Have you checked this? He is?

I'm sorry, ladies and gentlemen, but it appears Russell Howard is not in fact a prepubescent, he merely looks like one. He is, however, a transphobic little piece of work, as the following youtube clip - for which a serious trigger warning is in effect - shows.

After being alerted to this blatant piece of bigotry by trans journalist Paris Lees (who blogs at Last of the Clean Bohemians), I, like many others, fired off an email of complaint to the BBC. You can see the text of their reply at my tumblr.

You can also see the reply that trans man Big Daddy Keltik got over at his tumblr. Notice anything familiar?

And we're not the only ones. Pretty much everyone else who's complained to the BBC has got the same stock reply, trying to argue that a sketch about kathoey stewardesses on a Thai airline is somehow 'not a sketch about trans people' and is 'in the tradition of Kenny Everett and Les Dawson'. You can see a detailed dissection of that line of bullshit in the press release from Trans Media Watch.

The BBC have removed the offending episode from the iPlayer, as per their policy of only leaving content up on it for a week, leaving only an inoffensive clip of a different routine from the show. Doubtless they're hoping that this story will go away. That, just like every other time they've made a joke about trans people, the fuss will die down and they'll get away with it.

But it won't. Not this time. Pink News have covered the story, and a general sense has crystallised in the trans community that enough is enough. Why should we stand by and take it when egregious, grinning little scumbags make jokes about how we're so disgusting we make people want to vomit?

This is dehumanisation. This is what Nazis do: make jokes about how the Other is so sickening that the only response decent people can have is horror and revulsion. And this is not what an organisation like the BBC - which has a public service remit to respect all the people of Britain, especially the most vulnerable of us - should be doing. And it is past time they were reminded of that, and started to act on that remit.

This time, we are not going away. This time, we are not giving up. This time, Auntie Beeb and her special little comedy children do not get to get away with it. The BBC and Russell Howard must apologise properly for their disgusting behaviour, and the BBC must start living up to the commitments it should honour as a public service broadcaster in an increasingly diverse society, instead of acting as if, where trans people are concerned, it's still the 1970s.

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