Tokenized: Transphobia, SNL style
Submission by Sylvia Renee, TNG columnist
I had plans for today’s article. It was something that had been on my mind for a while and I was going to be glad to get it out there. And then something happened. Ever come across one of those moments where you get so angry that your speech center threatens to shut down? This is one of those times. It is literally a struggle for me to maintain coherent sentence structure.
On January 29th, SNL aired a horrific skit entitled Estro-Maxx (I won’t link the video because frankly I dont want this garbage to rack up any more views). While SNL has not been funny for years, if not decades, this video takes it to another level. In just under two minutes it managed to hit just about every negative image possible about trans women, usually relying on the “man in a dress” trope for most of the “humor,” and even then I use the term lightly.
For the writers, all that matters is that these bodies have breasts, and that these breasts are explicitly sexualized while simultaneously a source of revulsion. In fact, every single scene contains some sort of explicit sexualization of their bodies. And every time it is “funny,” at least if we are to believe the laugh track. Because from the perspective of a “normal” straight (presumably white) man there is no way that a trans body should ever be sexy in its own right.
There is one scene where a TSA agent scans one of the bearded actors and is immediately shocked and aroused. It is no small implication that the agent is played by Keenan Thompson. While white men should be repulsed, there is a black masculine sexuality in play that is both voracious and suspect. Without detouring too far, the US has used this same imagery for over two hundred years as an effort to police and control black male sexuality.
Last time I checked, interacting with the TSA was nothing like that.
And then it just keeps going. A voiceover informs the viewer that “men taking estrogen may develop an interest in TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress.” Because obviously in order to be a proper woman you have to aspire to heterosexual marriage theater vis-a-vis a reality tv show.
Shit like this just plays on conservative fears that men will somehow “invade women’s space.” Beyond that, it only confirms the inherent biases amongst ass-hats like Ellis. Trust me, the only space I am interested in are spaces where I can be safe and have my presence accepted or even valued.
Please feel free to tell NBC all the ways in which this is unacceptable.
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