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MAAD at GLAAD.. where AT&T underwriting is more important than protecting trans folk

Crossposted from Michi’s View

GLAAD, you have showed your true colors this time.  First, read the article at Qweerty.

Our “allies” at GLAAD have come out in support of the acquisition of T-Mobile by AT&T.  Now, I will first digress on one issue around this and agree that if the acquisition takes place and AT&T culture is put in place at T-mobile, it will be better working conditions for T-mobile employees.  T-mobile employees currently work for a CEI 50 company while AT&T is a CEI 100 with some fantastic trans protections.  

I oppose the merger on technical and international relations grounds. I talk about that here so there’s no reason to get into details here.

Now, some of you are familiar with the developments that took place over the past month will know about the infamous “man in a dress” advertisement funded by Sprint.  This was a full page ad that appeared in the Hartford Courant and in other papers.  It was a call to action to contact Congress to encourage them to stop the acquisition.  The ad also contained logos of various non-profit organizations including some that my organization, REC Networks shares some of the same causes with, such as Media Access Project’s involvement with Low Power FM radio.  In order to reach out to these organizations, I released an open letter through my organization, REC Networks.

This was a story that went over the wire and was sent to over 700 different blogs including mainstream news blogs, business blogs, advertising industry blogs and public relations blogs.  I had given statements to the subscription CEO Update publication as well as All Things Digital, who was the one who made this story go viral.  In addition, it hit GLBT publications such as Qweerty and various trans* lists.  The story was also posted by readers on GLAAD’s Facebook page.  

You would have thought that GLAAD would have caught on?  Nope.

Either their media monitoring service is just not on the ball, their social media staff is not clicking “recent posts” on their Facebook page or they just don’t care about the welfare of transsexuals and transgender people all together.  

The truth came out a few days ago around the FCC comment deadline for the AT&T acquisition of T-mobile.  GLAAD filed comments supporting the merger.  I am not going to get into the semantics of why GLAAD would reach that reason as they are tons of blogs already writing about this.  

But I will say this…

It is very obvious that an organization who gives significant underwriting to GLAAD has enough influence that GLAAD would look the other way when a segment of their community that they are supposedly charged to protect is under an attack.  

I consider the Sprint “man in a dress” campaign an attack by a telecommunications company, an advertising agency and the print media as an attack on the transsexual and transgender community.  

GLAAD didn’t care.  

This is the same organization that does not have a significant representation of transsexual women or men, especially people of color on their board.  Some may say it is because you have to donate significantly in order to get on the board of GLAAD.  If you remember the NCTE report showing the unemployment, underemployment and suicide rate of transsexual and transgender persons, you can understand why not many of us can underwrite an organization like GLAAD and buy our way to the board.  

So once again, an organization underwritten by corporations and lead by influential white gay men are using their influence to allow the transsexual and transgender communities to remain oppressed and the victims of violence and ridicule in the media while picking their battles towards those who go after the cis gays and lesbians.  

And of course, my letter to the NCTE went unanswered with zero action.  And this is an organization that is supposed to defend and EDUCATE about the trans* community?  Mara, you have some explaining to do here.

And you wonder why the transsexual/transgender suicide rate is so high.  

Thank you GLAAD and NCTE, you all screwed up… again.


UPDATE: The response from GLAAD –


To suggest that “GLAAD didn’t care” when Sprint placed offensive, transphobic ads in print and online media is completely false. Sprint immediately pulled the ads in question hours after they went live because of public outcry and before GLAAD’s planned action against the company.

GLAAD has a long and consistent history of speaking out against transphobia and helping to increase transgender visibility in the media. Earlier this year, GLAAD launched a high-profile Call to Action against NBC after “Saturday Night Live” aired a transphobic skit that grossly mocked and degraded transgender women. Nearly 5,000 community members and allies e-mailed NBC as a result of GLAAD and community outreach and national media including Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter and discussed our concerns and helped send a message about who transgender women really are.

Last fall, GLAAD spoke out publically against an episode of MTV’s Jersey Shore that we described as “the most blatantly transphobic scenes aired anywhere on television”: MTV apologized and met with GLAAD to improve coverage of the transgender community and edited the episode to remove the offensive material from future airings.

Both NBC and MTV were corporate partners at the time of these actions and remain so today.

So not only does GLAAD speak out – but we often have to do so about our corporate partners. But for us, a priority is to proactively share stories that educate Americans about the transgender community- stories like Sam, Joann and Patricia who we worked with in New York. In entertainment media, GLAAD worked with TeenNick to create the first series-regular transgender teen character on TV for its hit series “Degrassi.”

But we need to do more to raise visibility of transgender people and we hope PHB readers will not only alert GLAAD to inaccurate reporting and defamation of transgender people in the media, but also with inspiring stories that we can share with Americans. Please e-mail  

(The above quote was not placed in this diary by Michi Eyre.)

This was because REC Networks, an organization that is not involved in GLBT matters but has a close relationship with the non-profits that approved the campaign was able to get this campaign pulled on it’s own.

GLAAD’s lack of response at the time to even publicly acknowledge that the incident took place and to make a statement decrying this incident demonstrated the organization’s true conflict of interest in this case and therefore shielding this incident from the mainstream GLBT media.  

REC should not be doing GLAAD’s job but when we are seeing this depiction in the media and organizations like Media Access Project have their names underneath it, we had no choice but to find out WHY these groups would support this type of campaign.  

GLAAD, in their effort to redeem themselves from the scandal involving the misuse of funds to endorse a transaction not related to broadcasting or for other purposes of mass media should publicly acknowledge that this incident took place, apologize to the transsexual/transgender community and add more transsexual/transgender persons to their board of directors, regardless of their financial status.  

GLAAD when they are doing their job is a fantastic organization.  Just one day prior to the AT&T scandal breaking, REC was publicly praising GLAAD and NHMC on a homophobic and transphobic Spanish language television series.

GLAAD needs to remember where their priority is and should never allow greed get in the way of that priority.

Michelle Bradley (Michi Eyre)

founder, REC Networks

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Michiko Ota

Michiko Ota