GLAAD Receives Apology from Lil Mama Following Comments Regarding Transgender Contestant on “America’s Best Dance Crew”

September 2, 2009
Richard Ferraro Director of Communications (646) 871-8011

September 2, 2009, New York, NY – The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), the nation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) media advocacy and anti-defamation organization, received the following apology this morning from rapper and judge on MTV’s “Randy Jackson Presents: America's Best Dance Crew” Lil Mama.

Lil Mama: "I would like to clarify anything that was misunderstood from Sunday's show. My remarks were never meant to be disrespectful regarding Leiomy's gender nor offensive to the LGBT community, which has been a community that has supported me in all my endeavors. However, in hindsight, I recognize that my words may have come across as hurtful. I spoke with her privately after the taping to express that it was not my intent to offend her or any member of the transgender community and that I still live for Vogue Evolution."

GLAAD reached out to Lil Mama and MTV after receiving numerous calls and e-mails from community members and allies regarding comments made to transgender contestant Leiomy Maldonado during a critique on the August 30, 2009 episode of “Randy Jackson Presents: America's Best Dance Crew.” GLAAD asked Lil Mama and MTV to publicly address the concerns raised after Lil Mama stated:

“Leiomy, come on. Your behavior…it’s unacceptable. I just feel that you always have to remember your truth. You were born a man and you are becoming a woman. If you’re going to become a woman, act like a lady. Don’t be a bird, like ‘Oh my god, I’m not doing this!’ You know what I’m saying? It gets too crazy and it gets confusing. You’re doing this for America. Even though you’re the face for transgenders, you’re the face of America right now with this group and it’s not about anybody else. It’s about y’all. You know what I’m saying? So do it for the team. Do it for the team.”

"While we thank Lil Mama for her apology, this incident demonstrates the need for more education around the lives and experiences of transgender people. Lil Mama’s comments during her critique attempted to impose standards of conformity for gender identity and expression -- a mistake that many people make,” said Rashad Robinson, Senior Director of Media Programs at GLAAD.

“Transgender people, particularly transgender women of color, become targets of discrimination and violence when inaccuracies and acts of insult like this are advanced. Contrary to what was said on the program, as an openly transgender woman and dance contestant, Leiomy is living her truth,” Robinson continued.

“It was surprising that MTV, a network that has shown a strong commitment to fair and accurate inclusion of transgender and gay people, would choose to air a clip that includes such disrespectful comments,” said Robinson. MTV has not yet publicly addressed the comments made by Lil Mama in the episode.