Stop David Letterman if you’ve heard this transphobic joke before

Transphobic and transmisogynist humor is nothing new for late night talk shows. So it’s sadly to be expected The Late Show with David Letterman would make a joke about Amanda Simpson. I don’t watch Letterman’s show, though, so I have to ask: is his humor always this stale?

Transcript after the jump.

Woah, déjà vu. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard or heard of almost exactly the same joke. A straight cis dude is shocked to “discover” he’s been “duped” into “accidentally” sleeping with a trans woman. He reacts how he’s supposed to – he’s sickened and he panics. Cue laugh track. Seriously Dave, your transphobia couldn’t have been a little more original?

On a more serious note, the line of thinking perpetuated by this joke – that straight cis men are tricked into sleeping with dishonest trans women, who are sexually disgusting – is used to justify the murder of trans women. By making this same tired joke, Letterman is continuing the mainstream cultural support of the deadly notion of trans panic. Nice going Dave, humor and humanity fail.

Sign a petition demanding David Letterman apologize here.

Letterman: Well here’s something interesting. President Obama has appointed a transgender person, a transgender person, her name is Amanda Simpson and he has appointed her to be part of the Commerce Department. We have a photo, here she is right there. Yeah, that’s Amanda Simpson, and she’s a transgender…

Alan Kalter: WHAT? AMANDA? Amanda used to be a dude? OH MY GOD! (Runs away)

(Audience laughs)

Letterman: (Laughing. To someone offscreen) Will you talk to him later for me?

Boston, MA

Jos Truitt is Executive Director of Development at Feministing. She joined the team in July 2009, became an Editor in August 2011, and Executive Director in September 2013. She writes about a range of topics including transgender issues, abortion access, and media representation. Jos first got involved with organizing when she led a walk out against the Iraq war at her high school, the Boston Arts Academy. She was introduced to the reproductive justice movement while at Hampshire College, where she organized the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program’s annual reproductive justice conference. She has worked on the National Abortion Federation’s hotline, was a Field Organizer at Choice USA, and has volunteered as a Pro-Choice Clinic Escort. Jos has written for publications including The Guardian, Bilerico, RH Reality Check, Metro Weekly, and the Columbia Journalism Review. She has spoken and trained at numerous national conferences and college campuses about trans issues, reproductive justice, blogging, feminism, and grassroots organizing. Jos completed her MFA in Printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute in Spring 2013. In her "spare time" she likes to bake and work on projects about mermaids.

Jos Truitt is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Development.

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