Friends co-creator apologises for treatment of Trans character

During an interview with The Conversation, Marta Kauffman acknowledged that misgendering Chandler's Trans parent "was a mistake".

the cast of Friends sitting around a table in a coffee shop to illustrate the mistake Marta Kauffman made when misgendering a Trans character
Image: @friends via Instagram

During an interview with BBC’s The Conversation, Marta Kauffman, one of Friends co-creators, said that misgendering a Trans character “was a mistake”. This relates to Chandler’s mother, a Trans woman played by Kathleen Turner, who was referred to as ‘father’ on the show.

Speaking about the character, Kauffman said: “pronouns were not yet something that I understood. So we didn’t refer to that character as ‘she'”.

The Friends co-creator went on to explain that she has a better understanding of Trans related issues compared to nowadays. Kauffman recalled one situation during her current show Grace and Frankie in which she “fired a guy on the spot for making a joke about a Trans cameraperson”. That just can’t happen,” She said.

In recent years, Friends has faced criticism due to its lack of representativity. Even though the show portrayed a lesbian couple co-parenting a child with one of the main characters, and the parent of the other main character was Trans, the show was far from perfect.

The show co-creator recently spoke about how her views have changed in later years, having donated $4 million to African and African American studies at Brandeis University.

“The Marta F. Kauffman ’78 Professorship in African and African American Studies at the private research university will support a distinguished scholar with a concentration in the study of the peoples and cultures of Africa and the African diaspora. The gift will also assist the department to recruit more expert scholars and teachers, map long-term academic and research priorities and provide new opportunities for students to engage in interdisciplinary scholarship”, reported the Los Angeles Times.

During this interview, she also explains that “it’s painful looking at yourself in the mirror”. “

“I was clearly part of systemic racism in our business. I was unaware of that, which makes me feel stupid. That was a very valid, extremely difficult criticism which still… I get emotional about [sic. it]”, Kauffman explains.

She continued: “If I knew then what I know now, there are certain things I would have changed. But I didn’t know them and I have since learned”.

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