“Positive exploitation” of transgender people on TV for ratings?

Trans woman and TV actor Carmen Carrera (Photo - ABC News)

THE GUERRILLA ANGEL REPORT — On the ABC News website, they’re promoting an upcoming episode of “What Would You Do?” in which a person’s transgender status is spotlighted for the sole purpose of getting reactions from unsuspecting patrons in a diner.

A preview clip shows the reactions from the patrons were positive, so was the ABC blog/article promoting the show. The article also states being transgender has become more acceptable by using examples such as Jenna Tackalova and Chaz Bono to make that point. The trans woman participating in the program is Carmen Carrera and she has previously appeared on other shows.

While I appreciate ANY positive attention that comes our way, I’m wary when it comes in the way of exploitation — because after all, we most certainly don’t like it when it’s the other way around. I also wonder if what ABC would do if the reaction of the patrons on the show weren’t so positive?

What say you?

The show is scheduled to air Friday at 10PM EDT. You can view a clip here: Patrons Defend Transgender Waitress at N.J. Diner – ABC News.

Carmen Carrera's before/after photos (Photo - ABC News)

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10 replies

  1. National media exposure for trans people is needed, so we can educate and build acceptance in the public. However, I am leary of this. It still has an element of Jerry Springer. Remember, ABC tried to ram “Working It” down our throats!

  2. All media is exploitation, in that programming is always for profit. That doesn’t mean it isn’t informative, or that it’s biased. The problem with “helpful” programmes is that they will equally air and probably not challenge, negative populist views. We need to be seen to be normal ordinary people who illustrate the reality of gender beyond the inadequate cultural binary. I guess we have to go through the difficult educating process, so where even some programmes, or aspects of programmes, show that we are not weird or strange, but perfectly acceptable full and contributing members of society, that has to be a plus. But we do all cringe when we see trans-spectrum individuals presented as representing all our diversity …

    • Quite well said! Andie! There is never any question in my mind that anything in the media is there for the profit of those presenting it. So any chance to get our views out correctly has to be positive, people will take it how ever they take it. If we have turned one stone, we have begun cultivating a field.

  3. Thanks for your thoughtful response Andie!

  4. I tend to agree with Andie. In order to rise above the fall of day-to-day banality there has to be some sort of a hook or identifying characteristic to connect to the reader/viewer. In this case I think they’re starting out with someone looks like a perfectly normal female in the revelation comes only after the acceptance of the female presentation is stable. I think that this is a good way to demonstrate that we really are just like everyone else. We don’t look like Milton Berle or Flip Wilson. We certainly don’t put RuPaul! For all intents and purposes we are invisible. And presentations that I disliked airworthy use the stereotypical feminized stereotypes such as applying makeup and hosiery which the majority of women do as little as possible. Same goes for people on the male side. Men don’t all run around in suits.

  5. and it’s May and sweeps month…we already made it clear with the firestorm we started over ‘Work it’ that negative images like that are unacceptable to our community…

  6. I think that it can be a positive, maybe show the rest of the world that hey, regardless of what Pat Robertson tells you, we are actually real live human beings too.

  7. before and after business as usual, having said that it tilts towards a positive approach. I rarely see the relevance of before and after.

  8. The change in how trans-women and men are being looked at is changing for the good with an uprise in individuals’s awareness to the community. The more information about trans-women and men as contributing members to society helps ignite understanding and acceptance. The more people see and acknowledge our presence, the more integrated trans-people will be. I mean, that’s the whole point of the trans-process anyway, right? To integrate? ;)

    It has to start from somewhere. Let’s continue to make videos, blogs and posts on other forms of communicative media to be heard as other people are.

    It’s what a good friend of mine and I are doing with a YouTube video series we’ve created called, “Road 2 Equality: Our QueerNation”

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