Last night's episode of Chelsea Lately repeatedly made a mockery of Chaz Bono's transgender identity when discussing the transgender advocate's upcoming appearance on Dancing With the Stars. Host Chelsea Handler herself started the discussion off with a joke about Chaz Bono's identity and anatomy, but was joined a few moments later by two members of her all-comedian panel in using transphobic humor to mock him.
Chelsea Handler: The Dancing with the Stars cast has been announced and, this is season 13, it includes Chaz Bono, otherwise known as Chastity Bono [laughs] before she got her penis [laughs]....
Out comedian Fortune Feimster soon said that she was personally most looking forward to watching Bono on the program, saying:
Fortune Feimster: I’m, I’m like you, I’m excited about Chaz Bono. Cause I used to watch the show…
CH: I wonder why. [laughs]
FF: It’s like reality gold, he’s like four reality shows in one, like who doesn’t love that?
This was immediately followed by jokes from comedians Bill Bellamy and Jo Koy, who has previously apologized for using anti-gay language:
BB: I mean who do you vote off? Him or her? I don’t know which one you want to do. [laughs]
JK: Does, does he/she have both parts? Like, like he’s like ‘I don’t want to use my penis, let’s use the vagina tonight.’ Like [laughs] I don’t know.
Of the four people onstage, Feimster was the only one to make a joke about Bono that didn't simply mock his transgender identity. The "humor" utilized by the others hinged solely on using both male and female pronouns to describe Bono and reducing his identity down to anatomy in order to ridicule him. In doing so, they are effectively making a mockery of anyone who identifies as transgender and contributing to the already dangerous and hostile climate many transgender people face.
This is especially disheartening coming from a show whose host has made a point of being publicly supportive of the LGBT community, though the content of her show has skirted with crossing the line on more than one occasion. After learning of the incident earlier today, GLAAD reached out to the show, which has yet to respond.
GLAAD calls on Handler and the show to apologize for the jokes, and asks them to invite Bono, or another transgender celebrity like Top Model's Isis King, to make an appearance and offer viewers the chance to get to know them beyond a few hurtful punch-lines.