Sunday, October 12, 2014

Wrong Way

I believe this is an important topic but this is the wrong way to debate wage inequity.

There are many other ways to bring this issue to the forefront instead of trivializing trans-people. GLAAD said,
Anti-trans workplace discrimination is no laughing matter

But as an ally to the transgender community, I also see why a video released by the National Women’s Law Center missed the mark in addressing the topic.

I certainly get the video’s humor, and I think we can all agree it’s well intended. But for transgender people and allies like me, it's difficult to watch without thinking about the dire employment situation trans people face in the workplace. For example:
  • Transgender people are four times more likely to live in poverty than non-trans people
  • The unemployment rate for transgender people is double the rate for the general population, and four times the rate for transgender people of color
  • 47% of transgender people report they were either fired, not advanced, or not hired due to their gender identity
  • Studies suggest the earnings of transgender women workers fall by nearly 1/3 following transition 
  • You can be fired in 32 states for simply being transgender
When I was in the House gallery listening to the debate, the opposition trivialized our struggle by saying we were transitioning to save money on our auto insurance and I see this ad doing the same thing trivializing trans-men transition.

Substitute race for gender and you can get some idea how off color the ad is. Suppose they had a black man saying he became white to get better jobs, what would you think about the ad? Is it now objectionable? Then why is it okay to say that about a trans-man?

Yes, the ad is funny, yes the ad does show how ridiculous wage discrimination  is, but there are better ways to do it.

Update Oct. 12, 2014 6:30PM:
Sarah Silverman said on her Facebook page...
If I literally got a sex change I would indeed find the work force far less friendly. The video wasn't transphobic it was transignorant - never crossed my mind. But to my *unintentional* credit- people are talking about it & so begins awareness. Please don't punish this cause because of my video. I certainly don't only fight for causes that concern or benefit me and I expect the same of the vital trans community.
Update Oct. 14, 2014 3:45PM
The National Women’s Law Center said on their blog,
The video also features the ridiculous notion that Sarah Silverman would “become a dude” to avoid the wage gap. Sex reassignment surgery is an expensive and complex procedure, which health insurance companies typically refuse to cover, and is therefore out of reach for many of the transgender people who seek it—and transitioning from female to male would clearly not guarantee higher pay in reality. We know transgender people receive no pay premium; in fact, they almost universally report harassment and mistreatment on the job. Nearly half report having been fired, denied a promotion, or not having been hired because of their gender identity and studies suggest the earnings of transgender women workers fall by nearly a third following transition.
In a poll about the ad on the Huffington Post...
What do you think of Sarah Silverman's video?
  • It was completely offensive.    12.25%
  • I think it included valid points about the wage gap, but I understand and agree with the arguments against it.    34.77%
  • It didn't bother me at all.    52.98%
Maybe the reason the majority found the ad inoffensive was because they don't have a clue of discrimination that we face. They live in their own little privileged world and have no knowledge of what is happening in the real world.

1 comment:

  1. You will note that Engineering is missing from among Sarah's list of professions. Rookie engineers of the woman's persuasion start out earning $1.03 for the man's buck. As seniority increases, this drops to a statistical equality after about twenty years of service.

    An Anonymous P.Eng.