‘Saturday Night Live’ is on the receiving end of backlash for a transphobic joke made during last weekend’s episode.
The joke was a poorly-landed play on President Biden’s lifting of the transgender ban in the military.
“President Biden signed an executive order repealing Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military,” said co-head writer Michael Che in a faux news brief during the show’s “Weekend Update” segment. “Yeah, it’s good news. Except Biden is calling the policy, ‘Don’t ask, don’t tuck.’ Which is not good news.”
The joke was a play on the policy nicknamed “don’t ask, don’t tell” that banned gay and lesbian people from serving openly in the military between 1993 and 2010.
While the audience laughed, Che glanced over at co-host Colin Jost, and they exchanged looks as if they realized they might have made a gaffe, reported Decider. Which, as Twitter quickly clapped back, they had.
Responses ranged from eye-rolling to outrage.
“What is Saturday Night Live’s weird obsession with transphobic nonsense?” tweeted former Human Rights Campaign staffer Charlotte Clymer. “I honestly don’t get it. I
Trans activist Plastic Martyr was equally unamused.
“Honestly,” they tweeted. “We’ve been mocked enough for 1 eternity. Do better. I’m tired of our genitalia & our existence being discussed, obsessed about & laughed at.”
“F–K Michael Che and any other ‘comedians’ who think it is funny or acceptable to joke about the pain of the trans community,” tweeted another, according to Decider.
It wasn’t the first time SNL and Che have been accused of making transphobic jokes, as Decider noted. In October of last year the “SNL” head writer referred to Caitlyn Jenner as a “fella” during “Weekend Update,” during which he also called her by her dead name, according to USA Today.
Each incident alone may seem small, but they add up, transgender activists noted.
“When you start letting these small things take place without being challenged, it eventually snowballs,” Natalie Drew, a former Army infantry sergeant who is transgender, told NBC News. “It’s like ‘locker room talk,’ it’s ‘boys being boys,’ but when that goes unabated, eventually you run into a situation where they keep pushing the envelope.”
The harm is real, given that violence against trans people is increasing. Last year the Human Rights Campaign logged 44 “violent fatal incidents against transgender and gender non-conforming people,” the organization said, making 2020 the most violent year since it began tracking such deaths in 2013. At least four transgender or gender non-conforming people have been killed already this year, the HRC said.
Do better, ‘SNL.’