Politics & Policy

No, Making a Joke About a Transgender Person Is Not the Same as ‘Transphobia’

Comedy is not supposed to be a "safe space."

Jamie Foxx is facing accusations of transphobia because he made a joke about Bruce Jenner during the iHeartRadio Music Awards last night — despite the fact that he’s a comedian and making jokes about other people is kind of what comedians do.

During his opening monologue, Foxx joked that Jenner, who is rumored to be undergoing a male-to-female gender transition, would be “doing a his and hers duet by himself.”

“Look, I’m just busting your balls . . . while I still can,” he added.

Immediately, swarms of social-justice heroes took to Twitter to let Foxx know just how not okay his “transphobic” comment was. Even Perez Hilton (who once called a Miss USA contestant a “dumb bitch” for disagreeing with his stance on gay marriage) got in on the action:

Now, I’d agree that Foxx’s joke wasn’t all that funny. It was pretty hack, and if I was going to perform standup on television I would try to make sure that my material hadn’t already been worn out at open mics in bar basements across the country. But Hilton’s saying that what Foxx did here was “be transphobic on national television” isn’t just hypersensitive — it’s a logical fallacy. “Being transphobic” and “making a joke involving a transgender person” are not interchangeable phrases. Making fun of someone does not automatically mean you hate or have a phobia of that person — and if we lose sight of this seemingly obvious distinction we’re going to lose comedy altogether.

#related#Honestly, it doesn’t seem like we’re that far off. Just a few months ago, Margaret Cho faced outrage over her impression of a Korean war general at the Golden Globes because apparently making fun of even your own community is unacceptable in the eyes of the PC Police.  

Look, people. Comedy is not supposed to be a “safe space.” That’s what’s so special about it. The implicit permission to offend is what distinguishes it from other forms of communication and makes it a unique part of our cultural dialogue that we can’t afford to lose. If you can’t handle it, fine. Go watch a politician’s speech or an evening newscast or any one of the other 9 billion bleached forms of communication out there — but please, for the love of God, don’t think you’re so special that our entire society needs to change to make you feel more comfortable


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