'Awkward Black Girl' Uses 'Tranny': Problem?

Did the popular Web series promote "transmisogyny" and misogyny?


The popular Web series The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl is refreshing, especially to black women who identify with the main character, Jay -- a likable, funny protagonist who challenges the stereotypes that overflow from regular TV in her own "awkward" way. The series grapples lightly and insightfully with issues of race, and it's really the last place you'd expect to hear a minority group of any kind seriously maligned.

But the women of the Crunk Feminist Collective aren’t giving the show -- which they admittedly love -- a free pass. In an open letter to the producers, they've challenged what they call the "transmisogyny and misogyny" in episode 11. Read some of it here:

In episode 11, CeCe calls Angelina Jolie/White Jay’s ex a “tra**y bitch in heels.” The word tra**y perpetuates violence and divisiveness amongst women by relying on the idea that trans women are not “real” women; it suggests that White Jay’s ex is somehow less than the main character J. 

The word “tra**y” has a very real history of violence and discrimination, often targeting trans women. It has been used as a slur, as a way to objectify women, and as a way of denying the personhood of trans women on the basis of appearance.

We have seen your responsiveness to the fans of ABG and we hope that by raising this concern you will respond accordingly by not using such language in future episodes. There are so many awkward queer, trans, and disabled folks who love the show and it hurts to see and hear our lives used as punchlines ...

We look forward to many more episodes of The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl that are hilarious without the use of marginalized groups as a punchline. We have confidence that you have the creativity to continue to push comedic boundaries in new ways and educate your audience in the process.

Whether you had any clue that the language used was offensive or had ever heard the word "transmisogyny" before, one thing is clear: The women at CFC get it right when it comes to addressing offensive statements about any group. Too often we attack, call names or assign bad intentions to people who use hurtful language without taking the intellectual energy to explain in any detail exactly why we're upset.

Instead of calling for a boycott of ABG or labeling the writers bigots, this letter actually provides new perspective and information. The response could have been just another name-calling uproar about political correctness; instead, it was civil, smart and productive. We can all learn something from that.

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