Tell The Discovery Network that their transphobia is unacceptable

Late last week, PinkyIsTheBrain on tumblr began a campaign to bring attention to the new Investigation Discovery show “Who the Bleep Did I Marry?”, which equates someone being trans* with being a serial killer, a con artist, or a bank robber.

[Note: If you’re unfamiliar with Tumblr, it can be a bit hard to navigate. “Conversations” or comments or follow-up tend to be nested.]

Transcript:

Music plays in background: “Love and marriage, love and marriage”

The video opens on a scene of a wedding in an idyllic location surrounded by trees with an arbor of flowers. The camera zooms in on the bride, who turns and says:

(Marriage officiant in the background): Join this man and this woman in holy matrimony.

First Bride: Five years from now, I’ll find out that he’s a bank robber.

The camera cuts to a different couple, walking under a portico with their backs to the camera. The bride turns to the camera and says “Serial murderer.”

A zoom in on another couple, standing like they are being photographed with their families.
Third Bride (loud whisper): Russian spy!

Another couple, cutting a cake.
Fourth Bride: Cheater. With three other wives.

Another couple, surrounded by a crowd, the bride sitting on a chair while her husband kneels to pull off her garter.
Fifth Bride: And he’s a… a she.

(Gasps)

(Kissing noise.)

We cut back to the original couple, kissing at the altar.

The closing shot is of a fancy black car driving away, trailing ribbons, tin cans, and toilet paper. ‘Who the (bleep) did I marry’ is chalked on the back window.

Marriage Officiant (sounding disgusted): Who the bleed did you marry?

Voiceover: Who the bleep did I marry? All new [episodes?], only on Investigation Discovery.

This is not just a ridiculous comparison, it’s a pretty damned offensive one that equates being trans* with being a serial killer – and once again equates being trans* with lying, which is the same argument that murderers make with they murder trans* people.

FuckYeahFTM looked up the contact information for the Discovery Network, encouraging people to get in touch and point out how bloody offensive and shitty this is:

Here’s more info about the show:

Who The Bleep? [Opens with sound & Video]

The other episodes they have include: Married to An Embezzler, The Biggest Con, Married to a Spy, Married to A Bank Robber

And they are including marrying a transman, or in their words “He is actually a She” on that level, with criminals and murderers.

Discovery doesn’t actually make it easy to contact them with concerns (I had to use a search engine to find the Contact page because it wasn’t anywhere on the Who The Bleep? page), so here’s how I did it:

32. How can I contact you with programming comments or questions?
We welcome your e-mail comments and questions, which you can send to us by clicking here.

This is the most efficient way to contact us. Comments or questions directed to anyone else at Discovery Communications will be forwarded to Viewer Relations, which means it will take us longer to follow up.

You can also write to us at:

Discovery Communications
Viewer Relations
One Discovery Place
5th Floor
Silver Spring, MD 20910

There is actually a lot of “required information” before Discovery will let you contact them. They want your age, your name, what network you’re writing about (Investigation Discovery in this case), post code, Cable provider, program time, and “information needed” (along with several other pieces of non-required information) before you can fill in your comment. I believe it’s five steps before you can tell them what your concern is, the site is very slow (at least for me), and I have no idea how accessible it is. (It does not like my computer at all)

However, reaching out and making it clear to Discovery that this stuff is not okay, that being trans* is not a crime, is not lying, and is not the equivalent of being a “Russian Spy” or a “Bank Robber”, is important, and I hope as many of you as possible will contact them and make that clear.

This is what I wrote, if you are looking for a template:

Hello Discovery Network,

I am disgusted and appalled at your decision to equate being a trans man with being a criminal, a spy, or a murderer. A trans man is not “really a she”. He is a man who married a woman. The decision of your network to “out” someone like this is especially dangerous, as many trans people are murdered for allegedly “faking” or “lying” or otherwise “cheating” their sexual partners.

I hope you will reconsider your decision to air such an exploitive, dangerous, and abusive program.

Again, here is Discovery’s Contact Form. I emailed them last week and have so far received only a form letter, but if we overwhelm them with numbers, surely they have to pay attention, right?

6 Comments

  1. That’s absolutely disgraceful. Rightly or wrongly, people see the Discovery brand as educational and so their equating trans-ness with crime is influential as hell, much as I hate to say it. I keep hearing about courts treating ‘discovery a person is trans’ as a mitigating factor in that person’s murder; stuff like this emphatically does not help.

  2. I’m a little uncomfortable myself that I went with the “medical disorder” route. I don’t believe that I or other transgender people have a mental disorder, but as long as it’s in the DSM IV it makes a compelling argument. But, I have posted my response here as well. Fuck Discovery.

    Dear Discovery,

    Recently I had the displeasure of watching an ad for your show, “Who the Bleep Did I Marry?”. I am appalled by the horrific implication that a transgender person, a person whose gender does not align with the gender they were assigned at birth, are akin to criminals. While the actions of serial murderers, cheaters and spies are based on choice, a transgender identity is based on a medical diagnosis (please see the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Disorders (DSM IV)). It’s as if you are equating criminal activity with anorexia, depression, or schizophrenia-other disorders categorized in the DSM IV.

    It’s important to note that in many states, cities and local jurisdictions, transgender people are protected by law from hate crimes and discrimination, which separates transgender people from serial killers, repeat adulterers and, Russian spies. This alone should set trangender people far from the company you claim they keep.

    You have exploited transgender people to sensationalize your show. The judgmental and moralistic tone in this commercial sickens me. I am saddened at the breadth of programming I will be missing as I boycott Investigation Discovery and all other channels on the Discovery Communications roster. Moreover, I will be circulating this issue and this letter to my networks and urge them to take a stand against this blatant bigotry.

    Please be responsible and remove this content from your networks.

    Thank you.

  3. Fearmongering over things that don’t deserve fear at all is rather the Discovery family of networks’ stock in trade (see the plethora of birth-related programming on TLC and Discovery “Health” and their various shows about fat people) so I wish I could say that I’m surprised by this, but I’m afraid that I’m not. An appropriate nastygram has been sent, I hope it has an effect.

  4. I work for a GLBT organization in a major city. I’ll put the word out at work; maybe I can get our org to formally put out a statement against the show and/or make a statement to the network or the press. I don’t know if it’ll go through, but I can try.

    ~Kali

  5. Kali, that would be great, thank you.

  6. Hi Anna,

    Great article! It addresses the all-too-common misconceptions the media impose on the trans-community, all for the accumulation of the buck…filthy buggers! Thank you for linking to our article on the trans panic defense.

    Kudos++++++!!!

    Lea(urmwhynot)