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Jerry Springer exploits trans women for ratings, transmisogyny for profit strikes again

By Laurelai Bailey


On February 19th an episode called “Tr*****s Twerk It Out” was broadcast on the Jerry Springer show, as we are all aware this show has a long history of making transgender women the object of disgust and disdain. To be perfectly fair, I didn’t watch the show, but the title says enough and its problematic nature is on multiple levels. This particular episode not only exploits transgender women in general, it is also pretty obviously racist as well by exploiting trans women of color.

This show and others like it contribute to the negative social images of transgender women, that we are deceivers, that we are really “men in dresses,” that we are sexual predators trying to trick straight men into gay sex.

When most people think of transgender women, the images and portrayals shows like this provide are the common view of our community. The worst part about all of this is that the trans women on this show are being exploited, the Springer show denies that they pay the guests, however some such guests have gone public with claims that they were in fact paid to appear as well as stories being fabricated or exaggerated and former guests have accused the show of giving financial incentives for violence

Transgender women, and especially transgender women of color are especially vulnerable to economic coercion forces in our society . And giving financial incentives to vulnerable people to create a negative image of our community (if this is in fact the case) is absolutely deplorable. Trans women who go on the show may be doing it because there are few options for legal income, I for one do not blame these women for trying to survive any way they can and I believe that we should put efforts into pressuring the media, both mainstream and shows like Springer’s into portraying transgender women’s lives in a more realistic and respectful manner.

Transmisogyny for profit is something that needs to end, this kind of vicious cycle where our oppression is exacerbated by these type of shows only serves to make money for cis people while further marginalizing transgender women.

These cis media organizations make large sums of money stepping on the necks of trans women, and especially trans women of color. This kind of exploitation is deadly, cruel, and downright evil. Sadly its also common and socially accepted.  Trans women are human beings who deserve due dignity and respect, we are a diverse group of women from many backgrounds and cultures, many belief structures, and many points of view. The one dimensional media portrayals we receive do not do our community justice.

We need media portrayals that show our true diversity and strength. We are such a diverse group of women, you can find ladies from all walks of life who are transgender, from all different kinds of backgrounds and we need to be shown with this diversity. All too often we are either painted as either one extreme of fabricated negativity or another extreme trying to engage in respectability politics. When the truth is every trans woman is different, and that needs to be ok. We are not allowed to, by cis society, to be seen as we really are.

I would like to reiterate that that trans women who go on these shows are likely doing it to ensure their own survival, and i ask you not to hold blame on them, but hold the blame on the cis people who create these structures of exploitation, and if you feel motivated to help, i suggest instead of donating to me via that tip jar link on the side, donate to organizations and groups that are lead by and center trans women of color. I have linked one of the many great examples out there. Other ways we can help put a stop to media exploitation of transgender women is by loudly making demands of these organizations to stop exploiting transgender women for profit, demand they turn over said profits made on the necks of trans women to trans women as well as making efforts to educate the public on the issue transgender women face.

As long as the people who control what the world sees continue to paint us as caricatures we are going to have issues, the voices that are heard about our lives are not ours most of the time, and this has to end.

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  • Cassie

    This post is old but you are dead wrong. I will most definitely put blame on these trans women. As a trans woman myself, I know how hard it can be, the struggles to get by and “doing what you have to do”. Unconventional ways of getting money to even affording transition isn’t new to trans women like myself. HOWEVER, If I do anything that hurts me, I makes sure that it only hurts me and nobody else or the LGBT community as a whole, in this case the trans community. These so called “trans women” get on this show and tell the audience, “yeah I’m a man”, not “I was born a man” which makes all the difference in the world and that affects the whole trans community. It hurts all of us by them doing that, that is the difference. So I will definitely hold them equally responsible as well as the producers of the show, including Jerry himself. I think we need to sometimes be grown as trans people and take responsibility some times and that we’re not always the victims every scenario. I do understand how tough it is because I live it myself as a trans person but if I got offered that show, I would say FUCK NO. If it meant hurting the trans community in anyway, no amount of money is worth it. Reading the comments below, I saw one where one trans woman was offered 100 bucks. So these so called “trans woman” sold out the whole trans community for a 100 bucks? Wow, that shit is like new make up and some clothes. That shit can’t even get you on hormones. There’s no excuses. I think trans women need to be made aware of this. I notice a lot of African American “trans woman” go to these shows and sell themselves out and let me tell you, I do feel bad that they are more targeted then other trans women, but some times they do it to themselves. They sit there and tell everyone they’re men, or hide who they are until they have sex , it’s like what do you expect? Respect yourself, before anybody can give you respect.

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  • Gia Hidalgo

    The Jerry Springer show is 100% fabricated and their means of recruiting girls for their show is disgusting. They use escort websites and previous trans guests to recruit girls who are hard up for cash. I was approached by the Jerry Springer show on two occasions to appear on one of these horrid episodes. The producers offered me $100, a plane ride to Connecticut to film , a limo ride to the hotel and all the cigarettes my little heart desired. The producer told me I could make up whatever story I wanted and if I wanted to bring a friend to appear with me , they could include them in the story line. I respectfully declined as my dignity is worth more than a hundred bucks and I am well aware of the social ramifications this show has on the community as a whole. However, I personally know several girls who have appeared on the show and I cant fault them for doing so. The producer made it sound glamorous . Throughout our 4-5 phone calls he would ask me ” Dont you want to be on TV” ” Have you ever been to Connecticut we are just a short train ride from NYC .” , along with a showering of compliments of how beautiful and tv ready I was. I can easily see how disenfranchised individuals could latch onto this attention as some type of validation without realizing the bigger picture.

  • Weston James

    If anyone is receiving their trans education from sources like Jerry Springer, they are obviously stuck on stupid.

  • LizMarie

    Find out who is advertising on Springer. Contact them. Tell them they just lost your business. Don’t shop there. And inform others of the same.

    • Laurelai Bailey

      Voting with your wallet only works when your wallet is big enough to matter. That being said im fairly sure most of us dont watch the show already.

      • Kathy11

        Maybe a taste of his own medicine is in order? A show that focuses on reports on his speculated activities – perhaps reenacted Hong Kong news style via animation or by someone made up to look like him or with his face digitally inserted? Given his obvious obsession with trans women maybe some from the show will come forward with interesting stories of his behavior?

        Jerry twerks it for tr###y’s? What did he like to wear? Who knows? What did he like in bed? What type of people was he attracted to? We know that when he ran for office there was a campaign check to a sex worker he didn’t deny – who knows what the shows’ participants might come forward and say was expected of them?

      • Crysta

        Maybe we should take it the route of “Flush Rush”?

  • marti386

    Wait. Jerry Springer’s still on the air? Get outta here.

  • Charlene Leona Marks

    The only problem is ass’s Like Peirs Morgan saying that Janet Mock is still whining about what he did to her. She’s not whining she’s trying to educate people. No Jerry Springer need’s to be held accountable to the hate he generates against the trans community, as well as getting trans people’s to stop appearing on his show. He does pay these people and creates and stages everything. No trans-person is ever going to be able to go on his show and talk about the real lives of trans-peoples.

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  • Ally

    No surprise there! These charlatans will soon lose their ability to debase trans people with representatives like Janet Mock are out there educating the population.