Equal rights activists were given a New Year’s gift when Amanda Simpson became the United States’ first transgender presidential appointee by being named Senior Technical Advisor to the Department of Commerce by President Barack Obama. On Jan. 6, talk show host David Letterman, host of CBS’ The Late Show with David Letterman, announced Simpson’s appointment on his show and aired a photo of her. The show’s announcer, Alan Kalter, then reacted to the news with mock disgust and horror, saying, “What? Amanda used to be a dude? My God!” He hurried off stage to laughter from the audience, apparently to go collect himself after the shock of this discovery.
“Amanda Simpson and transgender people want the same things all Americans do: to earn a living and be recognized for their contributions to society,” said Jarrett Barrios, GLAAD president. “Instead of using humor to raise awareness about the lives of transgender people, the show ridiculed the first transgender presidential appointee and one of the most vulnerable minorities in this country. By promoting unfair and cruel reactions to transgender people, the David Letterman show is feeding an epidemic of discrimination and violence that currently faces transgender Americans.”
As this issue of OutSmart went to press, GLAAD had not received an apology from producers at The Late Show. – by Nancy Ford