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Oh, internet. I love you, but damn you can be touchy sometimes. We’ve had this discussion before, when that whole Zoolander 2 thing was going on, and here we are again.
Once again, a joke that is not inherently transphobic is being labelled as such, just because it targets a transgender person. But, before I get into what I think (and I can guarantee that if you think his comments were transphobic, you won’t like what I have to say), let’s take a look at the comments that started it all.
“I’ve changed. Well, not as much as Bruce Jenner, obviously – now Caitlyn Jenner, of course. What a year she’s had. She became a role model for trans people everywhere, showing great bravery in breaking down barriers and destroying stereotypes. She didn’t do a lot for women drivers, but you can’t do everything.”
He then moved on from Caitlyn, to the hit show Transparent, in particular it’s lead actor Jeffrey Tambor.
“What an actor, what a role. Every day, he has to put on all that women’s clothes and the hair and makeup and let people film it. That takes balls. So, I don’t know how he does it. I really don’t. I’ve seen his balls. They are huge and long. I don’t know he tucked them in the bra, that thing push them out the back and let them hang out, like a bulldog?”
The internet reacted in almost predictable fashion, with cries of “bigoted!” and “transphobic!”. The points I am going to make here, are pretty much the same ones I made in my Zoolander 2 article. No one is exempt from comedy.
I do not think these comments are transphobic. I have seen several transgender people, and people in general, agreeing with this stance. Ricky is making a joke at the expense of a transgender person, yes, but that alone does not make his joke transphobic.
As I said before, comedy must not be restrained by the notion of “PC”, if it’s to have any creativity at all. Every sub-culture that is publicly known has had it’s turn: gay people, straight people, men, women, white people, black people, mexican people – you name it, someone has probably told a joke about it.
So, if transgender people truly seek equality – and I believe they do – they must show they are able to laugh at themselves. Being able to laugh at yourself and not take yourself or life too seriously is a key skill for anybody.
LGBT people, especially the T, should take this as a good sign. A sign of acceptance. If comedians are making fun of you, that means you are being accepted into society.
Being equal to everybody else means taking your licks along with the rest of us. I’m going to quote myself here, because it’s still relevant: “Pretty much everybody in film has had their turn in the sun as the butt of the joke, and this could be seen as the first shakey step towards transgender inclusion.”
And, similar to what I said with Zoolander – Ricky is known for his crass “no f***s given” attitude to comedy. Not only that, he is a proven LGBT ally. Is this the way to treat someone who we know, in his heart of hearts, is on our side?