Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

Is GLEE Really A Friend of the LGBT Community?

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | April 14, 2010 7:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Marriage Equality, Media, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Coach Sue Sylvester, Glee, Hell-O, homophobic behavior, LGBT community, she-male, Sue Sylvester, transphobia

In yesterday's episode of Glee, there is a comment about she-males. glee.jpg

The thoroughly despicable, cartoonish Coach Sue is seen cutting a nerdy male student's ponytail and utters "there, you no longer confuse me with your shemale looks".

"She-males" is a term for male-to-female transgender people that often is used in the porn industry, and, when used to refer to someone who has transitioned from one gender to another, it suggests a negation of their gender identity. Many transgender people consider it pejorative. It is not normally used in polite company. It's also often used by those who oppose non-discrimination laws, like ENDA, in raising the ghastly specter of trans people using the bathroom.

As a friend of mine asked, "How do we lovers of Glee handle that?"

My response: Oh come off it, trannies. Get a sense of humor.

You trannies are always so damn sensitive. First with the Trannies With Knives thing, and now this.

Look, GLEE is about empowering gay people, so if there's a few remarks here and there about "shemales," it's just inside-the-community humor. Have you never heard of camp? After all, much of the GLEE audience is gay, and there are gay characters in the show.

Coach Sue is the "bad" character, so the show is actually giving the message that her statement about she-males is bad. She's just a satire of a bullying coach. Of course, while it's true that much of the audience is also teens, who may not be able to analyze the meta-conversation, it's really all in good fun. Some gay and trans teens may get the message that she-males are disgusting even to bad ol' Coach Sue, so they must be really bad. Sure, teen suicide in the LGBT community is a problem. I'm against it, myself.

But lighten up, trannies, and get over yourselves. Oh, that's right, some of you don't even like being called trannies. Well, too bad, because as part of your community, I get to define you whether you like it or not. Besides, I mean it in a good way. I love you trannies.

But you know what's really homophobic? that Tyler Perry with the gay man in a skirt scene - now that's homophobia. Of course, some claim it's just over the top humor designed to point up the silliness of homophobia. But I don't get it. Where is GLAAD when you need them? Let's out him and boycott his movies. He might give people the wrong impression about gay marriage.

Here's the whole episode. The "she-male" part begins at 3:45.

[Note: For those who are completely tone-deaf, the above was satire. That means I'm suggesting the opposite of what is said in the text. But c'mon, didn't the "transgenders are hypersensitive" meme jump into your head for just a second when you first read this? And even if not, you know that's what a lot of our community thinks. We need to change that, and GLEE's pushing in the opposite direction. When there's not rampant discrimination and violence against trans people, then it might be funny. Until then, expect no sympathy from me.]

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Jeff Coombs | April 14, 2010 7:53 PM

Well, I see the humor in it, but Im not trans so Im not to say if its offensive or not. Im sure the responses will run the gamut. The show also had some things said that could be said as sexist, homophobic and racist last night ("Did you know dolphins are really gay sharks"? and all the comments about Mr. Shoes hair oiling a wok). Personally I was not offended in the least - its camp in my book. But thats the thing with humor, whenever you go "edgy" with it you run the risk of offending people. I dont believe the show was taking a cheap shot - I believe it is camp, but everyone will see this different.

*golf claps*

In before the "WAAH WHY IS T PART OF LGBT" crowd.

Seriously? We can't enjoy GLee NOW? Glee?
You are offended w/freaking GLEE?

“You now no longer confuse me with your shemale looks. I’m going to donate this to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. They can use it to plug up the holes in their trailers.”

Do you even watch this show? I mean more then this one episode? Up to min. 3:45? Because as you acknowledge that Coach Sue is suppose to be a villain, the joke is that she is so freaking bad and does say out loud what controlling bigoted people are thinking.

This is seriously just getting way to over the top regarding something so ridiculously ridiculous. You wrote a BEAUTIFUL post earlier today about "Stand up and Fight". It was actually quite moving. But this is just bubble-gum agenda politics of telling LGBTQRXY&Z "community" what they are allowed and not allowed.

This allow/not allowed tactics didn't work in the Feminist Movement back in the 70's and I assure it works even less now.

It just made people turn their backs on Feminism.

Wow, way to prove her right on every point!

Well Nick, Dr. Weiss wrote a BEAUTIFUL and moving post earlier "Stand up and Fight". It was brilliant.

But this post is actually proving what I commented: Bubble-gum Agenda Politics.


Turn their backs on Feminism? Which has blogs who's readership levels *exceed* the top 25 LGBT blogs combined?


Then again, you do sorta have a history of being pretty, um, what's the term? Politically incorrect?

No, no -- it was RUDE!

Yeah, that's it...

A history of being fairy rude on and around subjects pertaining to Trans folk, and, in particular, trans women, so *of course* you'd get a little upset when told that you are being rude.

Ah well. :D

I am not required to be anything for ANYONE on my own Blog.
Nope. You can't control me.

How SHOCKING?!? A "rude" woman? A woman who will not subjugate herself? How horribly, horribly rude.

You are correct. I am rude.
It makes feel pretty.

The way you write this you seem to be implying that Antonia is not a woman. Is that because she's trans? Do you not believe trans women are women? That seems to be the underlying rhetoric behind your answer.

I haven't spoken for or about anyone but myself.
I agreed... that I am a rude woman.

But the implication that someone is trying to control you and your womanhood, to subjugate you, is a common theme I see amongst radical feminists claiming that trans women aren't really women but are men trying to control womanhood. Your phrasing reeked of their arguments so I wanted clarification.

That's all nice and wonderful if you so prefer to see yourself that way. I, for example, and generally a not so nice woman.

I, however, did not say that you were a rude woman.

I said that you have a history of being rude about Trans issues and trans people.

There are differences in the two statements. Whereas you are trying to create an inference that I find you a rude woman (which is unknown in general to me as I haven't enough experience with you offline to make a determination one way or another), what I am dong is noting that you have a history of directly and indirectly challenging the validity of complaints by and regarding trans lives, and, in particular, trans women -- inclusive of the validity of their being women in other locations.

Kathy Padilla | April 14, 2010 10:21 PM

I don't watch either Glee or Tyler Perry - but somehow was able to see Jill's point that GL folk - really - usually the gay guys - feel it's only natural that they can complain about depictions of them they find offensive. Even those that use camp & drag.

But also feel upset when trans folk (usually trans woman) complain when they depictions about themselves offensive. Even those that use camp & drag.

Her point was less about whether you're allowed to like a show than why some desire the right to both determine what they find offensive for themselves while denying others that same right.

I'm surprised this seems such an obscure point for some. That's more irony than satire. But the presumption to control this right to disagree for both yourself and for others - that's more about power and the desire not to be inconvienanced by having your prejudices challenged.

The point actually is that the character in a fictional television program Glee is an equal opportunity offender.

Gays. Lesbians. Poor. Class. Looks. Weight. Ethnicity. Teen Pregnancy. Physically Challenged.

That is the point. It's a television program w/one specific character that is a villain.

Bubble-gum agenda politics is trying to point out and hold the LGBTQRXY&Z "community" responsible and to respond/react all in the same way.

The LGBTQRXY&Z "community" is way to diverse.

Diversity actually means we are all little different.

I believe Jillian's point was not that we should all react the same way, but that it's insulting when some of us react badly to the use of a slur or bad stereotype that others tell us that we're oversensitive and to calm down...while simultaneously reacting to slurs and bad stereotypes aimed at them.

This post isn't a call to action.

"We need to change that, and GLEE's pushing in the opposite direction. When there's not rampant discrimination and violence against trans people, then it might be funny. Until then, expect no sympathy from me."

There is rampant violence/discrimination against:

Women [[half the population]]
Physically Challenged

The list goes on and on. It's not just TG.
I'm not trying to convince anyone to like the show... but if it's not your cup of tea, then don't watch it.

Again the villains character on a fictional television program is actually an equal opportunity offender. The character is suppose to be. It's not merely the TG community that the fictional character targets.

If the point of all of this is to make example of how NOT "transgenders are hypersensitive", then it failed. Because the post does not acknowledge the reality of this villain targeting every group.

The character is a scheming Archie Bunker in a female track suit.
Who also happens to Vogue.

Kathy Padilla | April 14, 2010 11:44 PM

Um... If you don't like peoples opinions that are at variance with your's.......don't read them?

BTW - you're repeating yourself and not actually listening to others. If that's your goals - congrats. If it's not - maybe you could capitalize in addition to bolding. It's a sure way to insure you'll be taken seriously.

You don't like my comment... then don't respond.

Kathy Padilla | April 14, 2010 11:57 PM

I didn't say that was my standard - you however did.

I think part of the point was that this stuff happens to more than just trans people, but that when it happens to a group that's not explicitly trans (as trans people intersect with every group you list), it seems like it's more acceptable to object to these things.

Whereas with trans people, on Bilerico anyway, there's a lot of "You're oversensitive."

And I take your point about the character being a villain, but - as a writer - while I want some leeway with my villains to be offensive and nasty, I think that I'd be careful about the ways I'd choose to be offensive and nasty. Even if a villain attacks everyone, it doesn't mean the attacks are always of equal intensity.

I read the paragraph you quoted as being about the immediate reaction that trans people are being hypersensitive, and changing that reaction.

Actually Lisa- please base your assertion with examples.

Where on the pages of Bilerico have people posted about the show's gay bashing (gay kid thrown in dumpster)?

So the only possible examples relate to Glee?

This post is about Glee in specific, but a more general trend overall, which is not about Glee, but about everything from ENDA to Ticked Off Trannies With Knives.

I'd still be curious to hear your examples.

But I don't think we actually disagree. I didn't like Sue's character's comments. That said, it is her character to a tee.

All I know is that consistently the show seems to deal in charactetures (does anyone know how to spell the word I'm trying to spell- I couldn't get it close enough for even dictionary.com to know!) - but time and time again it redeems itself by pushing boundaries / bringing different people together / and I guess, having a heart.

Hopefully someone can talk to R. Murphy- and maybe there is a story arc that could be brought into the show.

The more recent comments were on the posts about Ticked Off Trannies With Knives here. This was one post.

Oh ok- got that.

What I meant in your statement was that you seem to say that when other groups (let's say the LGB) complain about an unfair portrayal of themselves that no one tells them to shut up.

My point was I don't really see LGB people making a stink about fucked up portrayals of themselves in art recently. Glee is problematic on many levels. But I don't think there have been any posts here about that.

That said, and I think I said it on the post you referred to- I give art / drama / etc a pretty big leeway. Actually complete leeway. Sometimes the most important art offends deeply.

I get deeply worried when people begin to say art shouldn't say that. When that happens I generally feel that art should be saying exactly that.

But once again, I like many of us here cringed when I heard Sue make that comment yesterday. It wasn't funny- it missed on all cylinders. I'm just hopeful that, like, with other issues they have dealt with- they will do something on the show that will rectify it / make it a learning experience.

I guess the reason i keep coming back to Glee is that I think the show, at its core, has a big heart. It is fucking up all the normal paradigms of high school and turning them on their head. It is by no means perfect- but when you see its heart - it is one of the best shows on network tv.

Oh, I mean on Bilerico, Qweerty, and other LGBT sites. It's fine for cis LGB to complain about stuff (like CNN's "homsexuality cure bs the other day), but trans people complaining about similar stuff are told to stop complaining and receive helpful explanations about how we're not really able to correctly identify discrimination and discriminatory language against us.

Of course the straight cis majority tells all of us to shut up.

Ah, I know I should have read those posts. Well, on point- if I had, I would have said, "who cares what the hell CNN has to say?"

I've never really understood the real danger of ex-gays. Generally when they are on tv I think it helps our case because they look so absolutely ludicrous.

Next time let me know- and I'll tell them to shut the heck up as well. :)

The issue wasn't ex-gays, it was CNN giving them a platform, and then failing to give LGBT voices a platform to respond.

I do care a lot about media representation, though.


This is an interesting point- the All in the Family analogy.

From the Wikipedia page

"All in the Family was notorious for featuring language and epithets previously absent from television, such as "fag" for homosexual, "hebe" for Jews, "spic" for Hispanics, "mick" for Irish, "dago" and "wop" for Italians,"polock" for Polish, "chink" for Chinese, "Jap" for Japanese, "gook" for southeast Asian, "spade" for blacks, and phrases such as "God damn it." It was also famous for being the first major television show to feature the sound of a flushing toilet; it became a running gag on the show.
While moral watchdogs attacked the show on those grounds, others objected to the show's portrayal of Archie Bunker as a "lovable" bigot. Defenders of the series pointed out that Archie usually lost his arguments by reason of his own stupidity. (It is perhaps worth noting that Alf Garnett, Archie Bunker's counterpart in the original British series, was far from lovable and used much stronger language that would not have been allowed on US network television.)

In addition to its candid political dialogues, All in the Family's story lines also included a sense of realism, and occasional forays into deathly serious subject matter, not previously associated with sitcoms. A 1973 episode, for example, found the Bunkers discovering a swastika painted on their front door. (It had been intended for their Jewish neighbors down the street.) An activist from the fictional "Hebrew Defense Association" showed up, proposing violent retaliation against whoever painted it, but upon leaving, he was blown up in his car, as the Bunkers watched in horror from their front door. To interweave illness, crime, or in this case, the off-screen violent death of a character into the plot of a comedy show was an unprecedented move.

While Archie's bigotry and short-sightedness were the focus of much of the humor, Mike Stivic's naive, liberal nature was on the receiving end of occasional jabs. In the episode Edith Writes a Song, where the family is held by African-American burglars, Mike attempts to intervene on Archie's behalf, explaining to the burglars how Archie does not know about the pain of ghetto poverty. One of the burglars, played by Demond Wilson and Cleavon Little, responds: "And you do?""

Sometimes these characters are helpful- because they make us laugh at a terrible other- but then also recognize our own bigotry and let us know how fucked up that is.

I'd never seen the episode of All in the Family with the Jewish activist and a car bomb. Here's links to the show (in 3 sections) so others can see it if they haven't either.

All In The Family - Archie is Branded 1-3
All In The Family - Archie is Branded 2-3
All In The Family - Archie is Branded 3-3

I thought this was a really good comparison, piggy.

Kathy Padilla | April 14, 2010 11:11 PM

"The point actually is that the character in a fictional television program Glee is an equal opportunity offender"

Since I made no statement about whether Glee was offensive - no - that wasn't the point. Please feel free to respond to what I wrote if you're so inclined.

Dieks, no one said you couldn't enjoy Glee anymore.

I avoided Glee for other reasons before transphobia even came up. No one told me I couldn't like it when I read that post, but as a survivor of domestic violence, I made my decision. No one else made it for me. No one's making any decisions for you here, although you do seem to be trying to tell Dr. Weiss what her agenda should be.

"Because as you acknowledge that Coach Sue is suppose to be a villain, the joke is that she is so freaking bad and does say out loud what controlling bigoted people are thinking."

This concept only works if the people the villain puts down are represented elsewhere in a positive light. Otherwise it's just adding insult to injury. In this case the villain is never called out, her beliefs never questioned.

The gay character is harassed in the show, but he has a chance to fight back. There is no chance for trans people to fight back here, we are just another "guy in a dress" joke for everyone to laugh at.

There aren't even positive portrayals in *other* TV shows to balance it out. Good luck finding a positive portrayal of a trans person *anywhere* on TV. The closest you will get are extremely cheesy and one-dimensional TLC exposés that usually portray us as hapless, depressing victims. Otherwise trans characters are either crazy, delusional psychopaths, or streetwalking murder victims that die before the show even begins.

The real opportunity for satire here is the righteous moral imperative of the self-designated victim who combs the media searching for opportunities to foam at the mouth over trivia.

Shut up faggot. What? I'm part of the LGBT, I can say it. It's not offensive because I choose not to believe it is in this context. Just get over it. It's a joke.

then perhaps we should identify the kind of moral imperative associated here, the purpose of said moral imperative, and actually have an open and frank discussion on the nature of the moral imperative.

Then we can look at the recent airing on CNN of a show, as well, for the purpose of comparative study.

Sue is meant to be evil, so her comments don't offend. But I've always had a love-hate relationship with Glee because of the "gay-positive" gay character. In the end, I decided to love Glee despite, not because of, the gay character Kurt. Why is the gay kid such a cardboard-cutout stereotype? He has no definable personality other than being fem. He doesn't even dance - he sashays. The gay kids I knew in high school, on the other hand, were the best dancers on stage. So, Glee, please develop Kurt into a, you know, human being -- like the kids on the show who are black, Jewish, Asian, or have a disability.

Please purdy purdy PLEASE release the T from the GLBT ... I think we stand a better chance of things on our own. Most strait people i know are far more inclined to be on T side than on Gay mens side..

Steven Garret | April 14, 2010 8:51 PM

"Well, too bad, because as part of your community, I get to define you whether you like it or not."

Great satire, but you expose more than you realize. Who is defining whom? I woke up one day to learn that I am no longer gay, but rather something called an "LGBT" which is sometimes LGBTQ and sometimes LBGTIA and sometimes LGBTQIA and my personal favorite, LGBTQIAGNC. No one asked my opinion. Also, I am told that I am something called a "cis" a word that I never used to describe myself and which I had never even heard of until last year.

But that is supposedly all peachy. Cuz you all are oppressed so you get to redefine anyone you want. And you are so selfish and callous that you don't know it or don't care whether the people you are redefining object.

One more reason why gays should ally themselves with the teabaggers b4 they ally themselves with the "trans community". Less insanity and less aggression.

Yeah, there's no such thing as white, male, or able bodied, or straight either. Just normal.

You woke up to find there was a community instead of just you.

Do you think lesbians need you? No, gay men need lesbians. You need the LBT. You just haven't figured it out yet.

I know right? Trans people don't get bullied in reality, so they shouldn't portray bullies as being transphobic on TV. That would be stereotyping bullies. Everyone knows bullies are only homophobic not transphobic.

Where is the BJAAD (Bullies and Jocks Against Defamation)? We could form an alliance with them.

Satirizing satirizing satire.

Are you serious with your comment that Trans students do not get bullied? tell that to the trans in the hospital because a group carved "IT" onto his chest last week.

WackoTheSane | April 14, 2010 9:18 PM

It is offensive.

But then I am a straight, CIS, white male and my opinions on the subject carry as much weight as the TCP/IP packets that they are written on.

BTW realized it was satire at the 5th paragraph.

I don't watch Glee and hulu doesn't cater to us non-Yank types. From what I gather of the context, I don't know I'd be that concerned from this one thing -- what *else have they said or depicted re: trans people?

It is interesting, though, watching people jump up and down in indignation to dismiss the concerns as inconsequential. As with most people, *everything is trivial if it doesn't affect you.

Oh, and Dieks, any emerging community and rights movement has its political correctness explosion, and yes, it will at sometimes seem overreaching. But ultimately, it makes people realize something: that they have to stop, think, and respect -- if not in their hearts, then at least in gesture.

Hulu sucks for that rule. I'd watch the advertising as much as anyone in the US, so why shouldn't I be able to watch it?

lets face it,
what is offensive to some L's and G's is fair game for them to call GLAAD about....
but sometimes(and not always) there IS no mutual support system...also SOME G'S and L'S don't care about stuff said about THEMSELVES.
(tho i still personally do, by the way)

but, like "nappy headed ho's"
these words can hurt people.
these stereotypes can oppress people.
these images can fuel hate crimes.
and so,SHOULD be noticed.
(and if "you" don't care, oh well....)

i doubt in this day and age most people think the "...ho's" when said like it was, is ok.
(or would admit it openly, for fear of being seen as racist.)which it IS, by the way.

so, T people should just have their own
damn opinion re what is offensive TO THEM, and not give a F**K about what anyone thinks.period.
that's easiest.
the genuine allies get it!

but, if it offends you, Jillian,then as an ftm, that bugs me too.as long as some people get it, who cares about the opinion's of the "tr***y haters" in the community?
unless they have a blog, a movie, or political power, i really care not whether they agree with us.
F**k 'em.

...so troll on.....

"I got nothing against gays. Just ask my sassy intern Tyler.

"He has to live in my tool shed because I deny him health care, as I consider gayness a preexisting condition."

Sue is a homophobic character. She says anti-gay things too. She's says anti-LGBT things.

Personally, I don't think the Sue, the gym teacher is really considered a bully or villain as such in the show. She's an obnoxious adult who is clueless (as all the adults are). She's a funny character and kooky/obsessive (as all the adults are) but not really in any way evil. Which is why "shemale" coming out of her mouth is kind of disturbing.

What it's really about is that its a snarky "funny" remark. In a show seen by tons of teens, they absorb snarky, mean, funny remarks like water. As of now, shemale is not a common putdown on the playgrounds and gym classes of American. By next year, I can pretty much guarantee it will be. Again, the character didn't say shemale because it was trying to somehow show how evil and insensitive she was (nor is it something the character would normally even say), she said it because the writer/producers think it's a funny insult to say to someone else so they stuck it in the show.

Just to put it in perspective, where my 13-year old daughter goes to school, whatever happened on the previous night's GLEE episode is repeated ad infinitum in the kid's texts and during lunch and afterschool.

Wow. The comments on this thread are very heated and some of the language is surprisingly confrontational. It seems like a lot of cis people have very firm opinions about what should or should not offend trans people. I think as cis people in the queer community we need to be LISTENING right now to the concerns and opinions of trans people on their own experience.
Whether or not you decide to not support a tv show that features hurtful and transphobic language is a complicated discussion...but let's be respectful of the fact that terms like "she-male" are hurtful to the trans community and we need to make LGBT blogs and communities safe spaces for them to express that.
Personally, as a young queer person, it seriously disappoints me to see LGB people not being the most fabulous trans allies that they can :(

Angela Brightfeather | April 14, 2010 10:18 PM

Oh for Pete's sake!!
When are we going to have our first TV show about TV's who not only like dressing humorousaly in the opposite gender, but like doing it in "black face" type pantomime?

I mean if your going to step over the proverbial line of political correctness, why not just take the jump and go all the way on to the funny side of the dark side. Why just limit the insults to GLBT people, lets get people laughing at the whole gamut of minorities.

And aren't these Drag Races that gay men love to pull of for raising money for charity, just the perfect excuse for acting flaming and flamboyant, while also serving to piss of all those stern faced Trans people who always butt in and remind gays and lesbians only to often, that their lives have a serious side? The only thing that might be better is to have people engter a Drag Race wearing high heels and using crutches, then we can also stick it to peole who are physically challenged.

My oh my, there is just no end to the fun we can in the GLBT community, making fun of each other.

Why would anyone think that GLEE is helping any community? Well, aside from the beautiful, white, gay, men with access to money, community.

Reminds me of this fabulous piece from Mattilda


ya know,
as for tv shows and movies,
i watched "farscape" recently, (sci fi show)
and the big macho alien creature does *the most horrible possible thing* to the cis guy.
in a "nightmare"

....he tells him he has feelings for him
in a whinny "faggy" sniveling voice.
(oh and the *horror* of same sex affection)

it really wasn't funny, it was not satire,
and it had no plot bearing.it was just weird
and disrespectful.
the same show has some fun with
the suggestion of "hot chick on chick" action, too.
(for the womenz, i am assuming)

and because some people
SEE that type of stereotype
as what gay men ARE, and since there are
NO equal rights agreed upon in the US constitution yet, like marrige, and "dont ask dont tell" and many other things,
it smells of homophobia.
(as in christian right)

no equal playing field=nasty stereotype

i always wonder too re the "bully" who spews
racism, homophobia,sexism, etc.
as a comedic device.
i mean, Bush and co. has only been gone a short time, the CR's are still stirring the pot.
so is homophobia now cool or something?

i doubt we will all ever have equal rights
till people stop seeing us as cannon fodder
for straight cis humor.
who loves movies where the gay person has to die/suicide/etc?
who really loves hateful GL stereotypes?
(they disgust me.)
and it is NO EFFORT ON MY PART, at all...
i guess because GLB's MATTER to me..........

If you know anything about the Producer/Creator of GLEE, Ryan Murphy (um, yes, he happens to be gay cissexual man, but that has NOTHING to do with this) has produced a number of other shows with rather dubious content about trans people. Nip and Tuck had Ava Moore, a trans character with a long story arc, who was a sexual predator, gay man turned autogynophile wannbe woman played by a ciswoman. This character tried to seduce her own adopted child as well as the underage son of one of the main characters. Then there was Candis Cayne's pretty bizarre two-episode plotline where, again, she was basically a gay man who transitioned to female, then detransitioned (surgically... it IS Nip & Tuck) then wanted to retransition. It was "crazee tranny" time on Nip & Tuck. Ryan was also responsible for a series he shopped around but couldn't sell called "4 oz." (which stood for the weight of a penis). Why would you name a show that... because it was about a transsexual... an mtf sportswriter (played by Joseph Fiennes) who transitioned (sound familiar), Therefore, the show WOULD be named for something to do with a penis. I fully expect the cast of Ticked Off Trannies with Knives to appear in next seasons' GLEE... unfortunately, none of them have any talent in the singing or acting department.

If you know anything about the Producer/Creator of GLEE, Ryan Murphy (um, yes, he happens to be gay cissexual man, but that has NOTHING to do with this) has produced a number of other shows with rather dubious content about trans people. Nip and Tuck had Ava Moore, a trans character with a long story arc, who was a sexual predator, gay man turned autogynophile wannbe woman played by a ciswoman. This character tried to seduce her own adopted child as well as the underage son of one of the main characters. Then there was Candis Cayne's pretty bizarre two-episode plotline where, again, she was basically a gay man who transitioned to female, then detransitioned (surgically... it IS Nip & Tuck) then wanted to retransition. It was "crazee tranny" time on Nip & Tuck. Ryan was also responsible for a series he shopped around but couldn't sell called "4 oz." (which stood for the weight of a penis). Why would you name a show that... because it was about a transsexual... an mtf sportswriter (played by Joseph Fiennes) who transitioned (sound familiar), Therefore, the show WOULD be named for something to do with a penis. I fully expect the cast of Ticked Off Trannies with Knives to appear in next seasons' GLEE... unfortunately, none of them have any talent in the singing or acting department.

just out of curiosity,
after reading gina's comments,
where does the idea of GLEE being pro gay or glbt come from, in the first place?
who says this?

Javier, let's call it pro-gay, to call it pro-LGBT would be a joke. The gay part comes because they sing everything like it's a show tune, there's Chris Colfer (who is wonderful and should be the main character of the show if they were honest, but America doesn't want someone like him to be the star, and as far as I can see is being increasingly marginalized on the show to its detriment) and it has Jane Lynch, who everyone knows is lesbian, and they have people like Kristin Chenowith as guest stars. Therefore the gay rep.

Btw, Fox television has had a lot of exploitive plots on shows which rip on trans people... look at next week's episode of House and you'll see what I'm talking about.

Yes, and Alex, I totally agree with your opinion about people tossing around the term PC... It's one of the only sure signs I use that I truly dislike someone.

Do you mean if it's not specifically transsexual, it's not T?

I'm tired of these mixed messages. Does T mean trans or does it mean transsexual? You can't just change your mind whenever it's convenient.

Personally, I don't feel situationally expressing genderfuck is the same as "transgender". Maybe there might overlap in terms of legal protections for gender expression, but genderfuck, in and of itself is not (for me) a part of the community. I don't feel Kurt is shown as being trans or specifically going down to transtown even if he is supposed to be a "faggot" (and his part has been drastically reduced in the past few months, which, it's true, happens to all gender variant characters on tv). Bending gender boundaries is NOT the same thing as actually respecting trans people (and by that, no, I don't just mean transsexuals).

And yes, I'm really fed up hearing the likes of "well, there are transgender people who identify as shemale so her remark was justified in terms of acknowledging their existence and identification." Kind of like a southern whitey in the 1950s explaining how "nigrah" wasn't a slur because some black people answered to it.

I believe in the first or second episode, Sue literally tells the Glee club- "Asian, Jew, Gay, Wheels get over here." It made me cringe, but then I laughed and laughed and laughed.

I saw the comment last night- I cringed, but I never laughed. It to me wasn't funny- would it hurt for someone to maybe have a conversation with Ryan Murphy- probably not.

But if Sue's character ran out of outrageous things to say- well that would mean her character would disappear. I don't mind outrageous- but I prefer outrageous to be accompanied by laughter. This one missed.

After watching Nip / Tuck for a couple of seasons- I realized Ryan Murphy's characters are all rather one dimensional characters. I guess I just expect it now from his shows.

That said, Glee's episode where the whole football team sings Single Ladies and the gay character hits the winning goal & comes out to his dad- was one of the most poignant episodes of television I've seen this season.

Now that I think of it- his episode where the girl with Downs' Syndrome applies to be on the cheerleading squad- and Sue Sylvester treats her terribly- like she does to all characters- was also beyond moving. When called on it- Sue says something like, "all she wants is to be treated like any other cheerleader and that is what I am doing." Then Sue goes and visits her sister who has DS in a residential living facility. It was very moving- and made its point loud and clear.

I would imagine this is one of those rare instances that GLAAD might could do some good and try and have a one-on-one conversation with Murphy and the writers.

Kathy Padilla | April 14, 2010 11:31 PM

I have to just guess here - but could the difference be that she didn't just speak here? I have to deal with assholes saying things about who I am more times than I can count. Eh.... But think you can lay a hand on me?



In the first episode of the show- the gay guy is thrown into a dumpster by three guys taunting him. In the story arc of the season- the same guys who threw him in dumpster join the glee club and begin to see his worth.

I've never seen Glee before. Can't say that I want to see it again. The remark was out of line. I can hear the 13 year olds laughing on the back of the bus. I'd hate to be the gender non-conforming kid trying to ride home on that bus.

Well its a shame that you haven't seen more of the show- because the show is quite the gender fuck.

Here is the single ladies scene....

"This allow/not allowed tactics didn't work in the Feminist Movement back in the 70's and I assure it works even less now.

It just made people turn their backs on Feminism."


but is that true? is that it?
seems like feminism has come a HUGE way
forward since my grama's day.

*and not to derail.*
i don't want to debate feminism's progress!

just pointing out that it's hard to tell exactly WHAT causes people/causes to make progress, or people to back off from things.
(also the vilification of certain words
by the christian right:"liberal" "feminist"
caused lots of harm.

and,like in the 'sit-ins/no sit-ins' argument,
for civil rights, etc. who knows what works?
and if people stand UP to bullies, they can sometimes be free...

(so,standing up for one's rights can be
pretty damn complicated.that is at least
half the problem.protest CAN work tho.)

...MLK stood up.
that is good enough for me.
....i doubt he'd have put up with "nappy headed ho's",either....

battybattybats battybattybats | April 15, 2010 12:03 AM

The only way its ok to have a villain character using villification about a LARGE minority group is when thet minority group is REPRESENTED.


I'd call between 2% and 10% of the male population large. In fact thats just MtF Crossdressers. Add a further 1%+ of total population for Intersex. Then add the hidden FtM Crossdresser population unknown (they do exist folks I'm in a relationship with one). Then add Genderqueer and Transsexuals and Drag and Bi-Gender and all the rest of the Sex and Gender Diverse population.

I don't know the average school population and class size in the USA but the Sex and Gender Diverse population exists in I am sure EVERY medium sized school.

So where are the S&GD characters on the show? Where's the closet crossdresser/s strugling with guilt, shame, self-hate, purges, suicidal thoughts, the fear of being seen shopping, the struggle to hide, the Pink Fog, societies regular use of them as an object of casual derogatory humour and the high likelihood of losing relationships (of either sex) friendships and family if they are caught out or confess their truth?

With Transsexuals incidence last i heard something like 1 in 500 than the average school has likely 1+ transsexuals too. Many Intersex people don't know they are but the issues of Intersex kids are so massive they certainly require far more representation.

This connects to the whole proportional representation issues in media, of how minorities are often vastly under or totally unrepresented.

So Glee... where's the regular main cast member crossdresser? Where's the stories, not story plural, a whole arc in fact, of their struggle with self identity, internalised transphobia and prejudice?

Cause now you introduced the slur your obligated Ethically and Morally to deal with the topic fully!

(re/cis G&L)

"Next time let me know- and I'll tell them to shut the heck up as well. :) "

um,don't you believe in freedom of speech?
why should you, who are posting left and right,
shut anyone up?
it's just absurd....

personally i care re CNN because it has POWER.
as does all media.
not at all the same thing as the "little *guy*"
blog commenter.....

I can't watch the clip and I've never seen glee before so I can't say much about this specific instance, but: I've found that the people who say they hate "PC" and stridentness, etc., tend to be the most stridently PC people there are when you hit one of their nerves. Note the Religious Right with anyone discussing Christ who isn't a rightwing protestant or Catholic - they're an oppressed minority. And it certainly isn't limited to them.

Hey Alex- Can't comment about the rest- but one way if you are really interested in watching US stuff is to get a proxy server / VPN.

I use it to watch UK television (eastenders, dr. who, uk big brother) and I love it. Well worth the $20 bucks a month. Here is a link to a UK proxy server list / but they also do a US proxy server.


ok, 'piggy',
so you support the right of trans people to choose their own "personal offense" buttons?
because that's not what i got from your comment.
so your sarcasm was lost on me....

yow i always use "pc" as i think toni "reclaimed"
it recently, lol.i was always proud of trying to be pc, myself..........
(*flagellates self with catholic church approved flagellator tm@*)

mmm, there that'll teach me......

Congratulation Jillian. Your hosting of the 4 hour radio show pales in response to the turmoil you foisted with this post. Over 60 responses since 7 p.m. must be a record of some sort. I get the feeling people must take GLEE seriously. This is the first episode I ever watched and it reminds me of Boston Legal. The last time I was upset by anything on TV was the last time I saw Dick Cheney.

You're right, Deena, hosting a 4 hour national radio show about national political issues for our community doesn't hold a candle to a short satirical blog post about GLEE. I'm always surprised by what holds people's attention, but I really should know better. This morning I'm working on some way to link ENDA to GLEE, so maybe the 72 commenters on this post will use all this excess energy to call their Representatives. Or maybe something that shows you what celebrity you look like. Hmmmm....any suggestions?

Kathy Padilla | April 15, 2010 12:13 PM

Some of us were hoping for a link to listen as we can't at work. Any chance?

hey one person's turmoil is another person's freedom of speech, lol

There's too much bad blood in these comments to get to the heart of the issue.

Kings of Queens

Gays on TV once helped promote tolerance. Now they may be hurting it.

Last week's episode centered on a singing contest of "Defying Gravity," the anticonformity anthem from Wicked, every tween girl's favorite musical. The contestants: Rachel the glee-club diva vs. Kurt the, um—what's the male version of diva? Kurt (Chris Colfer) wears fluffy Alexander McQueen sweaters and sings notes high enough to make your fillings hurt. He can belt Beyoncé's "Single Ladies" and thrust his hips better than Ms. Knowles herself. Yet he can also melt your heart with his fortitude and frankness, especially during his fraught talks with his dad, a mechanic who still remembers when his son wore high heels—as a toddler. That's the thing about Kurt: he can be endearing, but he's also confusing. In one episode, the glee club split into a boys' team and a girls' team. Guess which side Kurt went for? If Kurt were transgendered, all that would make perfect sense, but he's not. Instead, he's that oldest of clichés: the sensitive gay boy who really wants to be a girl.


i guess one thing still confounds me;
why the hell do cis glb's even CARE about what offends the trans community?
(like if you don't support it, and it's "offense")

why say anything at all?
why even bother to post upwards of 40 comments(cis) on this thread?

why would you care?

Expecting Sue to use civil language and tone when talking about anything remotely trans or gender-queer or queer, period, would be like expecting Archie Bunker to casually switch to phrases like "person of color." But his use of nastier language didn't make All in the Family a racist show.

Here's a true story posted on Facebook in response to this thread, about a youngster's abusive experience with getting her hair cut:


Worth a read.

Hey, Jill, is there anyway that story can be posted somewhere that all of us can access it. It's marked as private, so I can't see it.

Can we talk about the more pressing issue, which is that gay culture has hit rock bottom when so many of us are obsessed with such an absolutely awful TV show?

Sadly, no.

You see, for there to be a culture, there must be a community.

And I keep getting told that there isn't one.

Actually, I think we are having a cultural divide moment.

Gender variant gays have long used humor, especially making fun of their own gender variance, both for coping and defense. And often to the chagrin of assimilationist gays (I'm very tempted to abbreviate this to ass gays, but I think that might be offensive). Note the Newsweek review I posted above.

But whenever those gays that wish to assimilate have said to tone it down, the response from gender variant gays has been to make fun of them, make fun of themselves and play it up.

I think under it all, the gays saying to lighten up are in fact clinging to a coping mechanism which for transfolk is foreign and has the opposite effect.

And there are just LGBT people that want LGBT characters to be portrayed in a way that does not show them as marginalized, and there are LGBT people that think that's unrealistic and glosses over the crap we go through.

From my POV, anything's better than a dead/evil lesbian cliche. Although, Sue is the evil lesbian cliche, even if she's not a lesbian character. She's being read that way because she fits the evil lesbian cliche and the actress playing her is a lesbian, as everyone seems to be making a point of.

"Look, typical man hating, homophobic, transphobic, lesbian gym teacher!" Satire achieved.

Hmmm. Apparently those, um, generally upset gender variant folks aren't the only one's to note the damaging effects of such:


It was a shitty joke. Offensive or not, it was lazy and did nothing for the show. Does it show Sue is a villain? Yes--lots of jokes could have done it better. Did anyone laugh out loud when they saw it? I doubt it. It was either be offended or get the popcorn time, but it certainly wasn't all that funny. I could see defending it if the joke was good--we DO need to have a sense of humor about ourselves--but really? This was probably one of the most throw-away moments of the episode... so why didn't the creators just throw it away?

PS there is no WAY I'm subscribing to this thread--looks like an inbox nightmare! Jill, I don't envy you at all!

Whatever the trans-haters say, if they want to defend such a lack-luster moment out of sheer stubbornness, then I say let them dig in their heels and say "I want my crappy crappy stupid forgettable joke!" I could care less what people with absolutely no sense of comedy say.

Jill, kudos for pointing this out. It bothered me too... and the fact that there are gay men out there holding on to this stupid joke for dear life really makes me want to go back to bed.

Hi Jill,

Y'know, I saw the episode on hulu last night, and I had to watch that piece at 3:45 again this morning after reading your column. It's strange - but to me the character (the cheerleading coach) is such a nasty person that I could expect her to use words like "shemale" - or for that matter, "faggot" or "n-g--r" (though I bet neither one of those would get through network censors, would they?)

So that's the issue, to me. It's not so much that the cheerleading coach would use that sort of ugly language, but that one of those offensive words was *allowed* on FCC-regulated broadcast television by network censors.

"- or for that matter, "faggot" or "n-g--r" (though I bet neither one of those would get through network censors, would they?)"

Which is of itself a noteworthy comment.

Tranny here~ Looove Glee

Erf... did Bilerico totally butcher my comment?

Must be because of weird HTML codes that cuts the comment when I try to make a smilie heart :/


I do love Glee, although some bits can ooze corny or contain sickening amounts of lukewarm, eye-roll worthy stereotypes. The sequence in which the she-male 'joke' took place wasn't particularly funny, at least compared to the typical comedic standards of Sue Sylvester. Still, coming from a character who goes out of her way to be offensive towards everyone and about everything, 'she-male' is quite fair game. Sure, it jumped out at me when she said it, but if I was to be offended about that, I'd have to be offended for the dozen other minorities she's made fun of so far in a mere 14 episodes. Sexist/racist typically are stale and not so funny anymore, but Sue sure knows how to add a new bite to them when she directs her vileness towards her target.

Seriously committed feminist here, Dieks; I just don't let other people define MY feminism.

Nor does Dr Weiss allow others to define what is or is not acceptable to groups that they are not a part of.

I think that in the end it is up to the trans people to determine what is or is not offensive to them, not for the gays and Lesbians to tell them that they should not beoffended, like some Southern Sheriff telling a black man that he ought not be offended by being referred to as "boy." Because , after all, why should black people have been allowed to dictate to men like George Wallace or David Duke how they ought to be publically represented or referred to.

Somehow, Dieks, you come across as though you think that trans people are less than GLB's, or somehow undeserving of consideration. Or perhaps disingenuous in their validity...

Gaugesmom | May 4, 2010 1:30 PM

Hi everyone,
This is my first time to the blog. Let me just start off by saying I love the show Glee I think it is written in good taste and find it funny. Now as for some of the gay and lesbian jokes on Glee, I honestly think their doing it in good taste, there is nothing wrong with what they say. I for one have had tons of gay friends and they were never offended when some of their friends would say something like oh dude your such a girl or tranny, they would just laugh it off. I think Glee is for gay and lesbian rights they after all have a gay character and Santana and Brittney are clearly bi. For those of you who are making such a huge deal out of one stupid comment by Sue, wow you should lighten up. Anyone who watches the show knows that she also has a soft side, after all she let Kurt on the cheerios and he is GAY!!! If you don't like how the shows has these kinds of jokes don't watch it end of story jeez!!