Roseanne Barr and transgender peopleTrans Progressive Thursday, April 10th, 2014
Commentary: Trans Progressive
I know I’m getting old. I used to watch the television show Roseanne when it was in the first run, and thought it was pretty funny. I thought it was pretty progressive, often having lesbian characters sprinkled through storylines. And, with Roseanne Barr being an executive producer on the show I thought she must have some awesomely progressive views on the LGBT community.
“Roseanne, a show that celebrated the ups and downs of a working-class American family, was one of the most successful series of the late ’80s and early ’90s. Helmed by stand-up comedian and self-proclaimed ‘Domestic Goddess’ Roseanne Barr,” states the TVLand synopsis for the show.
It’s been a few years since 1997. Her show is in syndication, and Barr is no longer the star she once was – today few follow her career closely. That is the nature of celebrity: it often fades over time.
Well, reality has snuck into the belief that she’s an LGBT progressive. Apparently she’s become quite transphobic in her language of late, and is using what remains of her celebrity status to rail against transgender people.
In 2012 when she was running for president of the United States she began Tweeting about trans people. Barr derided Green Party candidate Jill Stein about not accepting an invitation to debate her, and in her Twitter feed she wrote of Stein’s positions on issues that “Jill is also in favor of letting men into spaces where young girls get changed.” This is in reference to the “bathroom bill” meme used by many social conservatives and trans-exclusionary radical feminists to argue against housing, employment and public accommodations antidiscrimination protections based on gender identity.
In her Twitter feed in that same conversation, she continued and made comments such as these:
• Transgender folks should have their own safe bathrooms – they should not be FORCED into bathrooms with young girls who hate them there.
• Women do not want your penises forced in their faces or in our private bathrooms. Respect that FACT.
She’s continued her lashing out against trans women. In a January Tweet, Martha Plimpton stated, “If you’re a feminist & don’t support trans equality, you’re not a “terf,” you’re a bigot. & you’re certainly not a feminist. End of story.” Roseanne Barr replied, “Calling lesbian separatists who want no dicks around them-bigots now?? #rightwingbullshit”.
In a Tweet from March 24, Barr stated, “Another sign of the apocalypse: GAY & LESBIAN orgs support calling Lesbians bigots for not liking DICK.” In a Tweet from March 28, Barr has identified her new stand-up show’s theme: “My new stand up show is dedicated to dicktardian idiocy. #ychromo”
These are just a few of her many comments on trans people these days. She is getting harsher and harsher in tone and language regarding trans people – mostly trans women. Just this week she inserted herself into a Twitter discussion about trans women, lesbians and rape, and told the Transgender Law Center’s Cecilia Chung to “f*** off” – Chung was using respectful language and hadn’t even engaged Barr. It was bizarre to see.
So, how much do we care about what a celebrity that is far from her peak popularity says about trans women? Enough to band together and ask that the old Roseanne show be taken off TVLand? Enough to protest her shows when they come to our hometowns?
I’m not sure. What I am sure of is that I’m sad that a star of a show that I enjoyed in the ‘80s and ‘90s engages in hate speech against my community now. I’d say I wouldn’t watch her syndicated show anymore or pay to see a stand-up performance of hers, but in reality I wouldn’t be doing either of those kinds of things anyway.
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