Cross-dressing comedy irks human rights groups

2011-12-17 09:07

Los Angeles – The ABC comedy Work It doesn’t even premiere until January 3, and already it’s invoking ire from rights groups.

The series has sparked anger from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and the Human Rights Campaign, who argue that the series could prove harmful to transgendered individuals.

The series stars Ben Koldyke (How I Met Your Mother) and Amaury Nolasco (Prison Break) as two friends and former coworkers who, unemployed and desperate, take to cross-dressing in order to get hired by a pharmaceutical company that’s looking for female sales reps.

The concept spurred an angry message from the alliance, which argued that, while the show “does not explicitly address transgender people, many home viewers unfamiliar with the realities of being transgender will still make the connection. Work It invites the audience to laugh at images of men trying to adopt a feminine appearance, thereby also making it easier to mock people whose gender identity and expression are different than the one they were assigned at birth.”

The alliance took particular offence to a print ad for the series, in which the two main characters stand side-by-side at a pair of urinals, while dressed as women.

“Not only does it inadvertently further notions that transgender identities are humorous or artificial, but imagery like this are one of the first things anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender activists resort to when trying to deny transgender people protections against discrimination,” the alliance argues.

The organisation asks that the network not circulate the urinal ad, and to “consider whether airing this show is worth the damage it has the potential to do”.

Human Rights Campaign is going one step further, and urging the public to boycott the series.

The organisation has set up a write-in campaign which urges supporters to send a message to ABC reading, “It is never appropriate to belittle or mock those who do not adhere to society’s gender norms or the struggles they face. As an ABC viewer, I urge you not to air a show that reinforces negative and damaging stereotypes about transgender people.”

Shouldn’t they be more offended that the series sounds like an almost complete ripoff of Bosom Buddies?
ABC did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.

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