On February 19th an episode called “Tr*****s Twerk It Out” was broadcast on the Jerry Springer show, as we are all aware this show has a long history of making transgender women the object of disgust and disdain. To be perfectly fair, I didn’t watch the show, but the title says enough and its problematic nature is on multiple levels. This particular episode not only exploits transgender women in general, it is also pretty obviously racist as well by exploiting trans women of color.
This show and others like it contribute to the negative social images of transgender women, that we are deceivers, that we are really “men in dresses,” that we are sexual predators trying to trick straight men into gay sex.
When most people think of transgender women, the images and portrayals shows like this provide are the common view of our community. The worst part about all of this is that the trans women on this show are being exploited, the Springer show denies that they pay the guests, however some such guests have gone public with claims that they were in fact paid to appear as well as stories being fabricated or exaggerated and former guests have accused the show of giving financial incentives for violence
Transgender women, and especially transgender women of color are especially vulnerable to economic coercion forces in our society . And giving financial incentives to vulnerable people to create a negative image of our community (if this is in fact the case) is absolutely deplorable. Trans women who go on the show may be doing it because there are few options for legal income, I for one do not blame these women for trying to survive any way they can and I believe that we should put efforts into pressuring the media, both mainstream and shows like Springer’s into portraying transgender women’s lives in a more realistic and respectful manner.
Transmisogyny for profit is something that needs to end, this kind of vicious cycle where our oppression is exacerbated by these type of shows only serves to make money for cis people while further marginalizing transgender women.
These cis media organizations make large sums of money stepping on the necks of trans women, and especially trans women of color. This kind of exploitation is deadly, cruel, and downright evil. Sadly its also common and socially accepted. Trans women are human beings who deserve due dignity and respect, we are a diverse group of women from many backgrounds and cultures, many belief structures, and many points of view. The one dimensional media portrayals we receive do not do our community justice.
We need media portrayals that show our true diversity and strength. We are such a diverse group of women, you can find ladies from all walks of life who are transgender, from all different kinds of backgrounds and we need to be shown with this diversity. All too often we are either painted as either one extreme of fabricated negativity or another extreme trying to engage in respectability politics. When the truth is every trans woman is different, and that needs to be ok. We are not allowed to, by cis society, to be seen as we really are.
I would like to reiterate that that trans women who go on these shows are likely doing it to ensure their own survival, and i ask you not to hold blame on them, but hold the blame on the cis people who create these structures of exploitation, and if you feel motivated to help, i suggest instead of donating to me via that tip jar link on the side, donate to organizations and groups that are lead by and center trans women of color. I have linked one of the many great examples out there. Other ways we can help put a stop to media exploitation of transgender women is by loudly making demands of these organizations to stop exploiting transgender women for profit, demand they turn over said profits made on the necks of trans women to trans women as well as making efforts to educate the public on the issue transgender women face.
As long as the people who control what the world sees continue to paint us as caricatures we are going to have issues, the voices that are heard about our lives are not ours most of the time, and this has to end.