CBS “Mike & Molly” Uses Trans Slur on Most Recent Episode

The good news is that CBS is meeting with GLAAD to discuss the latest in their ongoing #fail when it comes to depicting LGBTQ characters on their network shows.

The bad news is that its February 2013 and they are still working on this.

That latest offense was a trans slur used during Monday’s Valentine’s Day episode. We were watching while lying in bed and sure enough there it was – “shemale” as part of the dialogue.

From GLAAD website
From the GLAAD website

From the GLAAD website:

 In the scene, the show’s main character Mike is talking with his police partner and best friend Carl about Carl’s checkered romantic past of picking up downtrodden women off the street:

Carl: It’s been a long time since I’ve trolled for bus pass ass.  

Mike: (Laughing) Not since the shemale incident of ’08.  You spent the whole night crying and gargling!

Carl: Learned a lot of lessons that night.

My jaw dropped, but Ledcat confirmed that she heard it, too. It was just this past weekend – two days earlier – when “Molly” aka Melissa McCarthy was the target of body image slurs as part of a review of her new movie “Identity Thief” … granted, the show was recorded much earlier so the timing was coincidental. But I hope McCarthy steps up on this and continue to earn my wish for her to play me in the movie of my life.

Why does it matter? Well, using terms like “tranny” and “shemale” are hurtful, derogatory and bring real harm to actual human beings.

The use of the derogatory term “shemale” is offensive in and of itself, but Mike goes on to categorize what happened as a traumatic experience which left Carl disgusted and weeping with regret.  The joke relies on the assumption that transgender people (and the thought of being with one) are revolting, and invites the audience to laugh right along.  And last night that audience was 10.4 million people.

CBS has a history of suckitude when it comes to LGBTQ characters, the most recent involving a horrific use of a trans female character who was involved in drug trafficking and killed herself in a horrible scene – and the response of the CSI characters was mixed at best. Sigh. And the problem is that they have few positive portrayals – no trans characters – to offset the negative, violent, criminal memes that pervade their core shows.

CBS is meeting with GLAAD to address these various problems. And we need to be equally vigilant in reporting these incidents – I was on the GLAAD website five minutes after the slur was uttered. And others did the same. GLAAD responded to me very early the next morning.

I would like to see Melissa McCarthy respond, but I doubt CBS will permit her to do so. She knows what it feels like – except with the buffers of being white, straight and somewhat affluent. But she knows and she is educated enough on LGBTQ issues to have a sense of what our trans sisters and brothers experience.

But most important – we need to speak out. CBS is only going to pay attention if we demand their attention. I encourage you to tweet about this and include @CBS and or @MikeMolly_CBS in your tweet.


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  • You’re right — CBS has a bad track record in this area.
    One of the worst incidents involving CBS and trans* people that I remember involved David Letterman. After President Obama appointed Amanda Simpson, a transwoman, to the Commerce Department, Letterman made some reference to it in his monologue. Then his announcer, Alan Kalter, yelled “Wait a minute, you mean Amanda used to be a dude?” and ran off-stage, vomiting.I wrote both to Letterman’s producer and CBS’s “vice president for diversity” and never got as much as a form-letter response. As I recall, GLAAD’s complaints also were ignored. So I’m glad CBS is taking the “Mike and Molly” thing a little more seriously.

    • @TrishMifflin I’m not being facetious when I point out that CBS’ record on daytime tv is a little better, but not much. Two former soaps had great stories (Otalia from Guiding Light and Nuke on As The World Turns) but the current shows have almost nada – Bold and the Beautiful has a backburner lesbian couple and Young and the Restless has a very minor gay character who might be off canvas completely now. It is a shame because soaps have a glorious history of moving America along, especially our grandmothers!  
      CBS also has a strong series of nightime mystery/thrillers so I doubt the stereotypical LGBTQ victim/freak/killer character is going anywhere soon.  If they could just work on how they present these stories and tell more engaging versions – I mean CSI could easily explore a hate crime and have one of the characters engage in the usual “growth and awareness” subplot.

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