GLAAD Responds to the Susan Sarandon Glee Kerfuffle

After we posted the comments Susan Sarandon made to the New York Daily News over GLAAD’s st

After we posted the comments Susan Sarandon made to the New York Daily News over GLAAD’s statement about the word “tranny” used in Glee‘s “Rocky Horror Picture Show” episode, (phew did you get all that?) We heard from GLAAD spokes person Richard Ferraro who wanted to set the record straight.

One correction to our post: It was the character Mike Chang who backed out of Frank-N-Furter (not Kurt) because his parents didn’t want him “dressing up like a tra**y.”

Richard emphasized to me that the NYDN had “sensationalized” GLAAD’s statement to Sarandon. Their comments regarding Glee‘s episode can be read in full on their blog.

GLAAD stated:

The casual manner in which the word [tranny] was used is jarring, even if he [the character Mike Chang] may have been repeating what his parents said. The word “tra**y” was made all the more confusing by the decision to change the word “transsexual” to “sensational” in the song “Sweet Transvestite.”  As many commentators have pointed out, it seems strange that Fox would want the word “transsexual” cut from a well known song, but find “tra**y” acceptable.

The larger problem here is that the word “tra**y” has become an easy punch line in popular culture, and many still don’t realize that using the term is hurtful, dehumanizing and associated with violence, hatred and derision against transgender people- a community that is nearly invisible in media today.

Richard pointed out that “GLAAD didn’t issue a Call to Action or make a public statement, Glee producers reviewed our blog before it was posted, and are meeting with GLAAD to discuss transgender issues.” In contrast GLAAD also contacted the producers of Jersey Shore after they aired the reunion show in which the cast members disparagingly used the words “tranny.”

In addition GLAAD maintains they used these instances “as a way to spark a wider discussion in mainstream media about the transgender community – how words like this can hurt and who the community really is.”

While we all appreciate the LGBT watch dog role GLAAD plays in our community, I pose this question here for our readers: Is there a difference between a fictitious show and a reality show using queer terms disparagingly. Additionally is there a difference when an out LGBT character or a straight one uses queer terms?

Please add your comments to this dialog because it matters.