Trans Rights Group Slams New RTÉ Sitcom, The Centre


Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) have come out against RTÉ 2 sitcom, The Centre, saying its portrayal of a trans woman “contributes to the marginalisation of the trans community”.


The new sitcom first aired on Monday, March 24 and features a cast of characters from minority groups, including Office Assistant Manager Nuala Mooney (played by Gary Cooke), who is described as “a 40 year-old pre-op transsexual who’s been living as a woman for the past three years”.

Over the course of the show, the character is the butt of several jokes about her gender identity.

“Nuala is the stock character of a ‘man in a dress’ played for cheap laughs,” says TENI Chief Executive Broden Giambrone. “Her appearance and identity are fair game to the other characters on the show and their comments and quips re-enforce every stereotype that exists for trans people in this country.”

“Not only is she is referred to as ‘king kong in a thong’, but there are references made to her surgical status, her hormone levels, body hair and Adam’s apple. At no point is the audience laughing with Nuala, they are laughing at her.”

Research carried out by TENI shows that trans people have some of the highest rates of attempted suicide in Ireland, with 30% having tried to take their own life at least once. In the same survey, 40% of participants reported that media representation of trans people negatively affected their emotional wellbeing or mental health.

The Centre masquerades as edgy by poking fun at minority groups,” says Giambrone. “Unfortunately, we see the very real effects of how this type of ‘humour’ contributes to the marginalisation of the trans community. There is no doubt that negative media representation contributes to pervasive transphobia. This has a direct and detrimental effect on trans people’s sense of self-esteem and contributes to their fear of coming out.”

TENI is encouraging people to make complaints directly to RTÉ.

The Centre can be seen on RTÉ player here.
Read Outmost columnist, Kay Bear Koss’ reaction to the show here.

© 2014 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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