Following statements of outrage from transgender woman Carmen Carrera, her supporters and GLAAD over how an episode of Cake Boss depicted the performer as the punchline to a prank setup, TLC has pulled the episode from airwaves.
Today, TLC confirmed to GLAAD that they immediately removed the episode from rotation after learning of Carrera and her supporters' concerns, and are reviewing the content to see whether it could be reintroduced following edits. Repeats of the episode scheduled to air last night also did not run.
This is a welcome and needed action on the network's part to help fix the issue. In the original, the dehumanizing prank set-up consisted of a cast member flirting with Carerra before it was revealed to him that she was a transgender woman, at which point one of the cast members exclaimed "It's a man, baby." The mean-spirited setup and result utterly belittled her gender as a transgender woman, and has no place on the air.
Yesterday, Carrera’s supporters created a Change.org petition demanding that TLC’s Cake Boss issue a public apology to the transgender community, which has garnered over 8,000 signatures to date. She has since spoken with Cake Boss lead Buddy Valastero, who apologized for what happened and offered to bake Carmen a cake, but Carmen instead called for action from the show and TLC, saying "I don’t want a cake, I don’t want an apology. I want them to have some remorse for what they did and fix this. At the end of the day, I want to promote equality and end ignorance. Transgender people are dying because of stupidity like this. It is not OK."
Valastero also posted an apology on the show's Facebook page, saying:
I've been trying to connect with Carmen and apologize to her directly, but also think I owe an apology to the entire LGBT community. It was absolutely not my intention to upset or offend her, or anyone within the community, and I was wrong to use the words I did. I am a supporter of gay rights and equality, and while I regret this situation and my choice of words, I am thankful to have received this feedback and the opportunity to learn from this mistake. I hope that Carmen accepts my sincere regrets.
Carrera spoke with GLAAD after being told the episode had been pulled, saying:
It's clear that TLC is taking this seriously and showing a genuine concern - which means a lot of me. It's not okay for media to make a mockery and perpetuate ignorance.
Over the past 24 hours, I have been flooded with support and I want transgender women to know that we have a voice. Transgender women are some of the bravest people that I know and I hope to be there for them when they face discrimination like this in their daily lives. We deserve to be respected as any other woman and embraced for who we are- not made to feel like we are less than human.
TLC has taken the appropriate action in this situation, and we hope other networks will recognize that the transgender community will not accept programming and depictions that defame them.