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ABC sitcom Work It under fire from LGBT groups

GLAAD, HRC and others say new show is hurtful and makes punchline of transgender workplace challenges
Photo: ABC

Work It, ABC's sitcom about two unemployed men who dress as women to get jobs selling pharmaceuticals, is under fire ahead of its Jan. 3 premiere.

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, the Human Rights Campaign, and the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center are among the high-profile LGBT groups who take issue with the show's promos and pilot episode.

GLAAD says that during a period in which the transgender community routinely finds itself in the cultural crosshairs, the timing for the show couldn’t be worse and that it could have the power to put the transgender community in an even more dangerous position.

'Transphobia is still all too prevalent in our society and this show will only contribute to it,' says acting GLAAD President Mike Thompson. 'It will reinforce the mistaken belief that transgender women are simply ‘men pretending to be women,’ and that their efforts to live their lives authentically as women are a form of lying or deception.'

HRC President Joe Solmonese has written a letter to ABC Entertainment Group President Paul Lee asking for a meeting to discuss the midseason comedy to ensure that it does not reinforce negative and potentially damaging stereotypes.

'We have a responsibility to ensure the messages about gender identity we send to the public - particularly youth who may see your program, are positive ones,' Solmonese  writes.

The L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center complains that even the promos for the show are offensive.

'The Work It promos blatantly exploit common issues that transgender people face daily, in the workplace and beyond,'  says Drian Juarez, program manager of the center's Transgender Economic Empowerment Program. 'While the characters on the show are not actually transgender, they are put in similar situations as those who are, dealing with workplace discrimination and offensive comments.'

Juarez points to a scene where the two lead characters, dressed as women, are standing at a urinal.

'Sadly, it’s very common for people to promote fear of sharing the bathroom with transgender people as a means to further their prejudice,' Juarez said. 'We’re frequently portrayed as sexual predators using the bathroom to make sexual advances.'

ABC has not yet responded to the criticism from the LGBT groups.

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