Jonathan Ross has found himself in hot water again at the
weekend by making off jokes about transgender people. During his
Saturday night show on ITV, Ross joked about a scheme run by a Thai
airline to encourage Kathoey cabin crew: "The biggest shock on that
plane, I imagine, is when the plane hits turbulence because it's
not just the oxygen masks which fall down in front of your face.
'What a great way to spend the flight though because you wouldn't
need puzzles or a movie. You'd just be, "Is she? Is he? Is she?"
Then comes the punchline: 'And when you want to find out the answer
you just press the buzzer and go, "Excuse me, do you have any
nuts?"' When accused of transphobia by an angry tweeter, Ross's
reply was inflammatory to say the least: "Lighten up. Sir. Madam.
Whatever". Yeah, that.
Over the weekend, I blogged about the offensive skit, and the
issue gained momentum. At first, Wossy shrugged the barrage of
angry tweets off, but some tweeters managed to appeal to his
reasonable side (while the bloodthirsty mob headed off to complain
to Ofcom). Given some time to think about it, Ross posted the
"The intention was never there to upset, and i regret my
thoughtlessness. I am all about acceptance and equality for
He added: 'I was insensitive and that was wrong. As ever am
working towards being a better person.' Forced apologies may be
glib, but I think Ross's tweets of contrition are actually quite
significant. I believe many comedians have no idea that such jokes
feed into a constant culture of ridicule for trans people. It's
just not an environment they've ever had to live in, and it's a
privilege that Ross and many of his contemporaries have clearly
never questioned before. Thanks, then, for social networking sites,
which now provide previously silenced minorities with a voice. And
Wossy? I suspect he's probably one of the good guys. I hope so.
Imagine the difference it would make if someone like him were to
champion trans people rather than mock us. Just a thought…
Paris Lee's Blog
Follow Paris Lees on Twitter @parislees