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GLAAD and HRC Tell ABC that ‘Work It’ Will Harm Transgender People

Ad in Daily Variety Educates Industry about Transgender Community

Rich Ferraro
Director of Communications, GLAAD
(646) 871-8011
ferraro@glaad.org

December 20, 2011

December 21, 2011- GLAAD and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), two national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) advocacy organizations, today placed a full-page ad in media industry publication Daily Variety as part of a campaign to educate the media industry and the general public around the upcoming ABC sitcom ‘Work It.’ The organizations also confirmed a meeting with ABC executives will take place to discuss the sitcom.

To view the ad, visit www.glaad.org/workit. More information can also be found in a joint opinion piece which was published on Huffington Post Gay Voices today.

According to ABC, ‘Work It’ centers on two unemployed men who have "learned the hard way that the current recession is more of a 'man-cession' and their skills aren't in high demand." One finds out that a pharmaceuticals company is hiring sales reps, but only female sales reps. He goes to the interview dressed in heels, a skirt, and makeup and gets hired as a woman.

Today’s ad in Variety notes that “by encouraging the audience to laugh at the characters’ attempts at womanhood, the show gives license to similar treatment of transgender women.”

GLAAD and HRC included photos of transgender Americans, legal facts and statistics from a recent report from the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force on the discrimination that transgender Americans face:

  • Transgender Americans can be legally fired in 34 states today simply for being who they are.
  • 97% of self-identified transgender people reported being harassed or abused at work.
  • 26% reported losing their jobs because they are transgender.

GLAAD states on its site that while the show’s pilot does not explicitly address transgender people, many home viewers unfamiliar with the realities of being transgender will still make the connection.

“This show could contribute to the high levels of job discrimination that transgender Americans face and will give license for people to mock and ridicule those whose gender expression might not fit with what society considers the norm,” said GLAAD’s Acting President Mike Thompson. “The media should use this as an opportunity to address the huge number of inaccurate or offensive images of transgender people in news and entertainment today.”

"As a network with a record of positive portrayals of LGBT people, ABC should know better than to air this offensive program that even has the potential to jeopardize the safety of transgender people," said HRC President Joe Solmonese.

HRC has also launched an online action for community members and allies to contact ABC and share concerns.

Critics have also pointed out the show’s offensive nature with regard to unemployed people and people of color, including comments from a character who says in the pilot: “I'm Puerto Rican. I would be great at selling drugs." The show’s discussion of women in the workplace has also come under fire after a pharmaceutical rep explains why the company is only hiring women by saying, “We find the doctors prefer to 'nail' the drug reps more when they are girls."

Previously the San Francisco LGBT Community Center, the Transgender Economic Empowerment Initiative and the Transgender Law Center spoke out against the show’s promos. "This show is debuting at a time when women continue to face high rates of workplace discrimination and get paid less than men, and when transgender and gender non-conforming people face extraordinary levels of violence and discrimination in their communities and the workplace," said Masen Davis, Executive Director of Transgender Law Center.

About HRC

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.