SNL’s Estro-maxx Skit

I don’t even know where to start.

37 Replies to “SNL’s Estro-maxx Skit”

  1. Ew.

    I recently watched an episode of “Bones” on Netflix about a murdered trans-woman. I thought it was surprisingly sensitive and positive. Season 4, “The He in the She”. He trans-ness wasn’t played for shock value. The people who knew her knew about her transition and loved and valued her. I won’t give the plot away, but I would be interested in what you and Betty think about it!


  2. I’m guessing the writers kept the bearded guys until halfway through so that viewers on the fence about whether or not this was funny would have no choice but to submit.

  3. It’s basically satirizing those YAZ and Seasonique birth control commercials. Sure it’s a touch insensitive with the facial hair thing, but those commercials need satirizing.

  4. I found it a insensitive and derogatory put down–much like black face. The skit portrayed being transsexual as all the about the body. None of the men that were pretending to be trans, made any attempt at presenting as female other than having tits and ass. It other words, it was saying that the essential aspect of being a woman was having tits and ass.


  5. I’m with Ronnie — the SNL bit is a spoof of those commercials. It’s taking their message to its illogical extreme, which is an old recipe for humor.

    To me, “offense” is all about intent. Is someone trying to be malicious, or are they just ignorant? I found David Letterman’s skit about Amanda Simpson last year much more offensive, because it seemed to be done with malice toward transwomen.

    Personally, I’m not as offended by this SNL skit as much as I’m not amused. It’s juvenile.

  6. official press release from MAGNET:

    Saturday Night Live Mocks & Dehumanizes the Medical Condition Transsexualism

    On Saturday night, Saturday Night Live (SNL) aired the most horrifying and dehumanizing mocking of women who are born with a transsexual medical condition. The segment, called ‘Estro-Maxx’, ridiculed the medical transition that women with a transsexual/and or intersex birth challenge go through. NBC/Comcast has yet to reply to the human rights advocates who are outraged that they would allow the writers of SNL to create and air this hateful propaganda towards such an alienated minority group.

    SNL trans-face recap (WARNING: extremely offensive and dehumanizing):

    Ashley Love, an organizer with Media Advocates Giving National Equality to Transsexual & Transgender People (MAGNET), explains, “For NBC/Comcast to allow SNL to ridicule human beings born with a transsexual and/or intersex medical condition in such a dehumanizing media assault is equivalent to how racist white men used to paint their skin black and perform “black face”, in which they stripped away the humanity and dignity of African Americans. Likewise, allowing the “trans face” skit to air is just as cruel spirited, appalling and will no doubt incite misunderstanding, fear, marginalization and violence (in that order) onto Americans with a transsexual and/or intersex condition. I’m shocked and disappointed that NBC/Comcast could be this socially irresponsible by allowing such bigotry on their platform. It’s 2011, not the medieval times; it’s unbelievable that such a tele-hate-vision crime would air on a public network.”

    Instead of showing the female characters as women who were legitimately undergoing medical transition to have their mind in alignment with their body, they were blatantly mis-gendered and depicted as “men in dresses” and transvestites. Note: a transvestite is a man who wears women’s clothes for either a lifestyle or a sexual fetish (which is how the characters were shown to be), whereas a woman with a genuine transsexual (and/or intersex) medical condition is actually a woman who was born in the wrong body, and therefore takes medicine and has gender affirmation surgeries to correct her birth defect.

    MAGNET asks NBC/Comcast to apologize for their poor judgment in allowing such transsexual-phobic and dangerously stigmatizing content to air on their station, and to remove the segment from the future airings and Internet. Dozens of Americans with a transsexual and/or intersex birth challenge are murdered annually due to the fear and violence that messages like the ‘Estro-Maxx’ skit provokes. At this time the transsexual, transgender and intersex communities are desperately seeking human rights, acceptance, safety and understanding. Unfortunately, a highly visible media attack on their humanity like this skit is a major set-back, therefore we feel it’s not too much to ask for compassion and accountability. An apology and an edit would be simple to do, but would give hope to many. NBC/Comcast: It’s never too late to do the morally right thing.

    For questions, media or to get involved in MAGNET’s anti-defamation projects, please contact:
    Ashley Love, MAGNET Organizer:
    Join the Facebook group: “Demand NBC/Comcast to Apologize for SNL ‘Estro-Maxx’ Trans-Face Skit”:

    Please Contact NBC and let them know your concerns, (but be more polite to them then their SNL skit has been to us, it’s always best to be the bigger person and be professional):

    NBC Entertainment
    Rebecca Marks: Executive Vice President, Publicity

    NBC Universal
    Kathy Kelly-Brown
    Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications & Media Relations

  7. Drag can be funny to me (see: Monty Python’s Flying Circus for numerous examples), but that SNL sketch is a lot less amusing to me. I have mixed feelings about it, as Veronica points out it’s making fun of the Yaz commercials (which is well deserved), but the beards and gratuitous emphasis on breasts and butts is poor taste. It’s cheap laughs, that’s for sure, at the expense of a marginalized group, but where I get a little fuzzy is whether they are making fun of transsexuals more, or yaz commercials, or just our cultural fixation with quick fixes and superficial beauty (ie. it will give you boobs, fast, but does that really make you a woman?). I’d like to think that they put that much thought into it, but I kind of doubt that.

  8. Helen, I understand why you posted that press release, but I hope you realize that it’s from one of those HBS/WBT groups that seems to spend most of its time vilifying transvestites, men in dresses, fetishists, ooh those icky people over there who have nothing in common with us.

    Not to mention how they attempt to co-opt and appropriate intersex identities.

    I’m embarrassed to share the identity of transsexual with people like that.

    I haven’t watched the SNL skit and have no intention of doing so. That sort of garbage I don’t need.

  9. Once more, it appears the “liberals” get that it’s not ok to oppress ‘the gays’ anymore, but trans people, OPEN SEASON.

    Also it really bugs me that the press release gave Ashley Love a platform to air her mean spirited HBS propaganda. She’s a divider, not a uniter

    We need a *uniter* to be a mouthpiece for the community in situations like this IMHO.

  10. I’m guessing the writers kept the bearded guys until halfway through so that viewers on the fence about whether or not this was funny would have no choice but to submit.

    I read the bearded guys in two different ways — first, it’s “visual shorthand” so that viewers wouldn’t have any doubt that these were transsexuals, and not (quote-unquote) “real” women. (Otherwise, the whole point of the “joke” is lost — it’s like an editorial cartoonist labeling the figures in a drawing.)

    But second, I can read it as a slap at transwomen for — again — not being “real” women.

    Susan’s comparison to blackface is apt, because I’m not sure who should be more offended — all women in general, or transwomen in particular. (Personally, I’m still not so sure I found it offensive as much as cheap and sophomoric.)

    I hope you realize that it’s from one of those HBS/WBT groups that seems to spend most of its time vilifying transvestites, men in dresses, fetishists, ooh those icky people over there who have nothing in common with us.

    Thank you, Donna. I got a very nasty email recently from one of Ashley Love’s colleagues, telling me what an evil, disgusting, misogynistic pervert I am. The enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend.

  11. There’s no need to waste energy to read anything into this. . . other than “WTF.” This isn’t about a “yaz spoof”, ffs.

    the main message was women who are transitioning = delusional men.

    hahahahahah. see. That’s really funny. [/sarcasm]

  12. When exactly did Ashley Love start with that bullshit? I had no idea, and I hadn’t been paying attention.

    How frustrating. I was so pleased to see a visible trans person of color on the scene.

  13. Helen,

    Seems like she starting ramping up last August. I found out about her in December when she linked to an opinion pieced on her facebook titled “Transvestism Is a Narcotic Drug.” by Evangalina Carters. The piece was an attempt to “other” crossdressers, late transitioners & lesbian-identified trans women.


  14. Ashley Love? I can’t find anything (including the the letter helenboyd posted) that says anything controversial? Anyone wanna link something that says how she invalidates anyone else to justify what she wants out of life?

    I see this from her blog:
    “A woman with a TS condition does not want to check the “3rd box” like many gender queer activists are fighting to do. She just wants to check the “female” box. She does not want to be “othered or misgendered”, she does not want to rebel against the gender binary. She just wants to live her life in peace, and have the same rights any other woman in America has.”

    So. . . um. . . yeah, I’ll agree with this (^). . . Is that what people are calling “bullshit?” just because a man who cross dresses or a “gender-queer” man ? a woman? Um. . . how’s that saying anything bad about anyone?

    Jeepers I hate to see a tg man get upset over having actual and real differences with women who transition. Their just different, and that’s okay, no?

    AND. . . the SNL skit was lampooning women that transition, not men that cross-dress after all. Although, I’m sure the writing staff could care less. . . a MIAD is just funny to them.

  15. I also saw this on her blog:

    “If a man gets satisfaction putting on a dress and using the woman’s restroom, who am I to judge him? I may not feel safe if I was in that bathroom when he was in there, but whatever strokes one’s boat, I think, or maybe he should use the man’s bathroom, just to be respectful. So some of my trans feminist friends plead not to include the transvestites in our mission, but would we really want to start a war with transvestite men just because we have nothing in common with them?”

  16. And this:

    “I’m not one of those conservative TS women who is phobic of CDs and TVs because of the theory that they are heterosexual or homosexual MEN who have a sexual fetish, want attention and invade TS space…”

  17. The quote didn’t come through sorry:

    “Humans have a instinct about them, a sixth sense, they internally register what someone’s gender essence is when they meet them. I will not blame the slow advancement of transsexual women on the men who like to dress up for what ever reason (but will blame it partly on the refusal of some trans gatekeeper’s refusal to initiate internal conversations about this controversial topic in our community that many TS women want to talk about!), and then say they are transsexual, which may confuse society’s education of the entire trans community, which includes transvestites. They can express themselves however they want, and people should just let them do what ever pleases them. But I do believe in DIFFERENT, BUT EQUAL.

  18. So what this amounts to is: 1) CDs are men in dresses 2) TVs are men in dresses, and 3) late-transitioners are just CDs or TVs that have conditioned themselves past the point of no return.

    And she worries about sharing the bathroom with any of the above…

  19. yeah, not to derail either. . . but. . . um. . . cross-dressing men, are um. . . “men in dresses,” so to speak, no? (and nttatwwt.) um. . . isn’t that the big difference? They ID as men, right? Again, how’s that bad?

    She does say: “different, but equal.” how’s that a bad thing? Just because some are part of the minority doesn’t mean they are the same and their issues are the same. . . acknowledging differences isn’t bad. . .

  20. I don’t know Julia…was “separate but equal” a good thing?

    There is a deragotory subtext to everything I quoted here and if you can’t see it…well…I guess there’s nothing I can do for you.

  21. Well all that quoted text sure makes a crossdresser feel insecure like there’s a mutiny in the T part of the LGBT camp.

  22. I apologize for my last post, I got a little huffy…sorry.

    I live a dual life but I am most certainly not a man in dress, a fetishist, or threat to women in the restroom. So the things she says are offensive to me and my identity.

    She comes across like some privileged, southern woman talking about “negros” in the 50s or 60s IMHO

  23. oh, heh, heh. thanks.

    yeah, “separate but equal” isn’t a good thing, but neither is ignoring any differences between people, right?

    attempting to decode “subtext” that may or may not be written by someone else probably isn’t something for me. . . I’ll leave the splainin’ of what motivates a cross-dressing man, TV’s etc. up to them. I’ll also have to leave what their needs are also up to them, don’t I? I wouldn’t want to be presumptuous to know what motivates, or what is important to a man who presents as female (in public or not) on occasion.

    not sure what one should do with their own insecurities. . . I don’t think it’s a “mutiny” though. . . I just don’t think women who transition have as much in common as others that currently fall under the ‘T’ umbrella. . . which, again (until blue-in-the-face) doesn’t mean it’s a put down of cross-dressing men. It’s just that our needs can be so different.

    Idk, why is this such a problem?

  24. I see your point Julia. What’s interesting in my case is that I seem to have much more in common with women who transition than I do with my cross dressing sisters. I seem to be getting many of the same things from my experience as they do even though I’m not full time.

  25. It’s a problem because Ashley Love has accused people who identify as gender-queer or transgender — but who have not had sexual reassignment surgery — of “oppressing” transsexuals, and called them “transgender fascista’s” (sic).

    Gee, many of the male crossdressers I know are deeply closeted. Little did I know that their closets are actually portals to a secret control center for taking over the world! /sarcasm

    I’m suspicious of anyone who wants to create a trans pecking order, where real transsexuals are better than icky crossdressers, because transsexuals have a “medical condition,” while crossdressers are just sick, twisted weirdos. There’s little or no reliable medical evidence justifying that — J. Michael Bailey and Ray Blanchard to the contrary.

    As far as I’m concerned, it’s just a short hop, skip and a jump from that attitude to the propaganda put out by far-right conservative groups.

    They both arrive at the same place, but from different directions — anyone who doesn’t conform to a masculine-male, feminine-female binary structure is wrong.

    And yes, there are lots and lots and lots (and lots) of crossdressers who annoy and aggravate me, too.

  26. Thank you Trish. Can you tell me what about cross dressers bothers you? Is it the overly sexualized presentations or that they hit on you or?

  27. Thank you Trish. Can you tell me what about cross dressers bothers you? Is it the overly sexualized presentations or that they hit on you or?

    Ha! No, I am a male crossdresser. Sorry, I should have made that clear. 🙂

    All I meant was that there are some male crossdressers who have essentially claimed that they’re “more feminine” than genetic women raised female, because they can appreciate femininity on a deeper level than real women. That just makes me laugh, because otherwise I get mad and start swearing and stuff.

    And heck, there are lots of people of every shape, size and presentation that annoy me. Lots of times I even annoy myself. 😀

  28. Hi TrishMifflin. . .

    idk, I looked at the link and I saw someone with an albeit militant tone, but I didn’t see her saying crossdressing men should go to hell or anything, as much as her calling on women to work on issues important to women?

    I’ve heard the thing where a woman who transitions has the opinion that there are more differences between a man who cross-dresses than a woman who transitions. . . and like the next thing you know someone has problems with “hierarchy” or something like that. It’s old, and I don’t get it, tbh. . . If a woman says their political needs are different than men’s, why does that seem like a “better than” or more “trans than thou” argument happens?

    I’m not sure where / how the “icky” part surfaces. . . I mean a woman who transition DOES have medical needs after all?

    Christine Devilcorn has a point – what, are cross dressing men’s needs? I have no clue? From my POV access to health and medical needs are much more important than a bathroom straw man law. . . ya know?

  29. It seems that the conversation has become a discussion about Ashley Love and HBSers. Which, is a worthy topic, but I kind of wanted to stick to a discussion about the SNL skit.

    Anyway, I hope this isn’t a meta comment. I didn’t mean for it to be, but, other than Ashley Love’s comment, and my own, I wasn’t sure how people felt about the skit.

    Personally, I thought the skit was derogatory, insulting, condescending, degrading, hateful, insensitive, callous, sexist, misogynous, and in just plain bad taste. Do I need to say why?

    Or, does everybody already know that, and I am being my usual dense self?


    P.S. For those who don’t know me. I’m a 67 year old trans woman who mostly identifies as queer.

  30. @ Julia

    Thank you I totally get it; a person who transitions has different concerns than a person who presents as female part time *especially* when it comes to access to health care and medical needs.

    The bathroom comment she made was more offensive to me than anything. There is no reason she should be afraid to share a bathroom with someone who presents as female part time. She didn’t need to say it; it added nothing to her point; it was just a little dagger she slipped in…

    The same tactic is employed by both the right-wing and radfems in their attempts to marginalize the trans community. I don’t know why she would want to echo their hateful screed…


    I’ve never heard anyone make that claim, but it would piss me off too. That is *male privilege* at its finest; to think one can appreciate femininity at a deeper level than a women who had the privilege of being born female. That’s just ridiculous.

    That reminds me of another quote from Ashley: “Humans have a instinct about them, a sixth sense, they internally register what someone’s gender essence is when they meet them.” Sounds like the kind of talk you would hear at the Michigan Womyns Festival!

  31. Susan,

    Sorry for getting off topic. I didn’t like the skit at all and felt it was offensive particularly to older transitioners.

  32. oh, yeah sorry for the derail. . . [/derail].

    as far as the SNL skit? I basically saw it as women who transition = delusional men. and, omg. . .Isn’t that the funniest thing?! [sarcasm]

    I don’t see the skit making any differentiation between women who are older, younger, passing. . . or visibly trans. . . that’s way too nuanced for what SNL was after, which. . . to me. . . was simply to say women who transition are a riot. . . and dang in order to get those blokes to grow boobs, they have to take enough E to choke a horse! hahahahah!

    as a side note:
    tbh. . . the evil, bad side of me looks for a silver lining and wonders if this kind of image (the SNL skit) is what the mainstream is given, if it’s what they calibrate (?) their trans radar to. . . well that’s just so inaccurate of my life that it acts almost as a diversion, if that makes any sense?

  33. Obviously I shouldn’t admit this, but I found myself laughing quite a bit.

    The concept of a single pill is actually appealing. I sometimes forget to take some of the fistful of pills I need every day. The obsession with pills reminds me of people I know who take silly amounts of hormones above what they have been prescribed, or who always seem to be on a quest for the perfect combination that will give them the maximum effects.

    And you know, despite the facial hair, the people surrounding the trans people appeared to be very accepting. The security guard was even approving.* And stubble is not unheard of for people still undergoing electrolysis.

    The funniest part for me was the party at the end with talk of nipple size and giggling. Geez, I’ve been to those parties. I don’t participate in those discussions (or giggle at them), but what can you do?

    Ya I know, most people watching this skit won’t have the perspective that I have, so maybe GLAAD is right to go after it, but *I* thought it was pretty funny.

    [*] Yes, I realise this trivializes all the anguish we have about security scanners these days.

  34. Name it CaucasianMaxx, changing African Americans to Caucasians, and see how funny it is. Poking fun at the foibles of a group of people **may** be acceptable (I withhold judgment), but making fun of transsexuals just because “transsexuals are funny” reminds me of the “humor” of “Amos and Andy” who were amusing because “blacks are funny.” Not funny then. Not funny now.

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