Sarah Silverman's Equal Pay ad offends transgender community

When I posted the Equal Pay Project last week I called it, and I said "I honestly expect Sarah Silverman tarred and feathered by morning. Oooh! Next cover-photo should be that. That's kind of hot."

The ad has indeed upset the transgender community so much, that National Women's Law Center now had to make a statement explaining the joke. Because jokes are funnier when dissected.... Like I said last week, this is the year of trans and having this reaction is as predictable as asking transgender model Geena Rocero for comment on Emma Watson's #heforshe UN speech, instead of say, anyone at the UN who were the audience.

That pay should be based on gender identity is ludicrous. That anyone would choose sex reassignment surgery to receive equal pay is ludicrous. It’s also ludicrous that any woman is penalized in the workplace because of outdated stereotypes that women aren’t “breadwinners,” are not tough enough for some jobs, are too tough for other jobs, or that women’s family responsibilities distract them from their work. The Equal Payback Project uses Silverman’s brand of absurd humor to draw attention to this ludicrous situation -- it was not our intent to make light of the serious issues transgender people face. We will share statistics about job discrimination faced by transgender people as part of the Equal Payback Project. And we commit to using some of the resources raised by this project to bring awareness to the discrimination faced by transgender women and men.

The statement also contains links to studies that show earnings of transgender women workers fall by nearly a third following transition, and that transgender Americans being four times more likely to have a household income under $10,000 per year than the population as a whole. Of course there's exceptions to the rule, the highest paid female CEO in America is a transgender woman. For comparison, Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer is number 35 on the same list.

Droga5 hasn't made any statements about the ad. Sarah Silverman took to twitter and said:

If I literally got a sex change I would indeed find the work force far less friendly. The video wasn't transphobic it was transignorant - never crossed my mind. But to my *unintentional* credit- people are talking about it & so begins awareness.

Sarah continued:

"Please don't punish this cause because of my video. I certainly don't only fight for causes that concern or benefit me and I expect the same of the vital trans community."

Will Sarah be forgiven? All signs point to nope! Will the equal pay cause be derailed by this ad? Probably, and remember, I called it last week.

Comments (4)

  • David Felton's picture
    David Felton

    Poor Sarah Silverman. Uses humour to raise awareness for equality issues. Pisses of trans community activists in the process. I see no reason for her to apologise for anything. This ad made me laugh hard and in doing so made me think more deeply on social issues. Why should she be sorry for that? Why should anyone?

    Oct 15, 2014
  • Dabitch's picture
    Dabitch

    Sarah's jokes are crude, crass and stepping over the line very often. That's pretty much the signature of many comedians. Her joke for Obama was all about going to Florida and convince your old jewish parents to vote for him, and she threw in a jewish joke here as well that I'm sure a lot of people find distasteful. Her mistake was joking about the one thing we can no longer joke about, and I'm surprised that Droga5 hadn't noticed the wind blowing on that topic yet.

    Oct 17, 2014
  • AJ's picture
    AJ (not verified)

    Comedy is about ridiculousness and it is ridiculous to think you can get a sex-change and therefore change your salary.

    So does it make light of transgender issues? Yes and that is the very definition of comedy - making light of things. So everyone please, lighten up.

    Oct 22, 2014

Leave a comment

about the author

Dabitch Creative Director, CEO, hell-raising sweetheart and editor of Adland. Globetrotting Swede who has lived and worked in New York, London, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Stockholm.