Okay, so if you haven't heard the hubbub, here's what happened: at the Academy Awards the other night, Ellen DeGeneres, who was hosting, pointed out Liza Minelli in the audience and said: "Hello to the best Liza Minelli impersonator I've ever seen." After everyone laughed, she added: "Good job, sir."
A lot of people - mostly those who don't realize the two women are friends - felt like the joke was mean and have been criticizing Ellen over it. For instance, Sarah Thyre, who is an actress and writer (and also married to Conan's sidekick Andy Richter) tweeted:
Ellen's joke was mean and rude. Don't fuck with Liza Minelli. The End.
— Sarah Thyre (@SarahThyre) March 5, 2014
Another person said this:
Supremely nasty joke directed at Liza Minelli. Seriously Ellen, you know better than using humor in poor taste @TheEllenShow #Oscars
— Deanna Russell (@MsDeannaRussell) March 3, 2014
As a result of this backlash, some people have even gone so far as to accuse Ellen of being "transphobic." Or, at the very least, stating that her joke was transphobic.
Transphobic? Pardon my French, but are you fucking kidding me?
Okay, first of all, Ellen is openly and proudly gay and has been one of the biggest supporters of the LBGTQLMNOP (or whatever it's called) community for her entire career. In fact, Ellen's prominent support of this community is one of the reasons why it is so widely accepted in modern society. Ellen is a goddamned pioneer in this field, for crying out loud. To suggest she is "transphobic," or that her joke was motivated by "transphobia," is ABSURD. She and Liza Minelli are friends, it was a harmless joke, and, most importantly, the joke was referring not to transgendered people, but to the fact that drag queens (who, by the way, are not trannies, by the very definition of the word) frequently impersonate Liza Minelli!
Secondly, what the fuck is transphobia?! There is no such thing as transphobia. Just because you can cleverly take a Latin prefix and Greek suffix and add them together doesn't mean it's a real thing. Transgendered people represent a tiny little fraction of the overall population. They don't get their own phobia, mkay? I started losing my hair when I was in college and have suffered bald jokes my entire adulthood. Do I go around calling people "alopeciaphobic"? Of course not, because that would be fucking stupid.
I realize that transgendered people are frequently criticized and made the butt of jokes, and sometimes even persecuted and mistreated, but then again, so are a lot of people, and we don't go around inventing unique words for all of them in an effort to create a category that doesn't really exist.
If someone mistreats a tranny, or makes cruel jokes at the expense of a tranny, they're not transphobic, they're just an asshole. And in any case, Ellen's joke doesn't fit either scenario!
Most of you know I'm an avowed liberal in practically every sense of the word. I'm normally the one defending accusations like "racist" or "homophobic" when conservatives suggest those words are overused or inapplicable. I think both those words represent legitimate categories.
But the word "transphobia," and especially the accusation that Ellen's joke was "transphobic," is just stupid. In modern society, people seem to think they have a right to not be offended. Sorry, but you don't have that right.
Just because something offends you doesn't mean you get to invent your own little category and bandy it about like a whip.