Are Transphobic Jokes Ever Funny? On Paris Lees’ Trans-Empowerment Chat
Have you seen the YouTube dialogue between Paris Lees and Jonathan Ross?
Have a look and check it out: it comes highly-recommended.
In the video created for META, Lees calmly and compassionately extends a hand to Ross in regard to prior insensitive remarks he’d made about transgendered individuals. First, he’d made a “lady boy airline” joke, then he mishandled social media responses with yet another quip he thought was funny. (When a fellow tweeter called him out on Twitter, he’d answered, “Lighten up. Sir. Madam. Whatever,” prior to making a quick knee-jerk apology.)
As we walk through Lees’ and Ross’ shared and very public video chat, we do see Ross searching for understanding about as he finds ways to personalize what being trans* means. (Example: citing the fact that his daughter is gay – it’s closer to but somewhat wide of the mark).
Paris Lees talks him through the proper way to communicate with and about LGBTQ folks, and trans* folks in particular, from a place of agency, and from her own knowledge and lived experience. All the while, he’s allowed the space to, essentially, brain dump as he moves toward fully embodied accountability.
The fact that the conversation has to do with comedic comments and Ross’ impressions about them provides a teaching moment that could have easily become inflamed, but Lees’ focus in her advocacy work has to do with centeredness, harmony and education. She’s been quoted in the press as being desirous to advocate for others in encouraging ways, making activism relationship-focused, easy as ‘having a chat and a bit of tea,’ and more accessible than accusatory (paraphrased).
While Lees’ viewpoint doesn’t provide others any wiggle room or space for excuses, it puts people at ease who could become unwitting allies and widen the platform for advocacy work simply by correcting themselves in public.
Kudos to Paris and to Jonathan as well—not only for having this conversation, but for sharing it in a public medium.
By video’s end, one does get the feeling that Ross has left the conversation changed—or that, at least, he’ll do double-check before he pens and delivers his next barbs.
To find out more about UK trans* resources or Paris Lees’ advocacy and creative work (additionally, she’s the editor of META magazine), please visit the links below.
Paris Lees’ Trans Empowerment Recommendations
Paris Lees’ Advocacy Site, All About Trans
To discover and learn more about trans culture in the UK, please visit Paris Lees’ official homepage – Note: website resources in this article were also sourced from Paris Lees’ official homepage – ParisLees.com.
When’s the last time you heard a transphobic joke, and what was it? How did you react?