We are sure we are joining many trans men and women in appreciating the gesture you recently made when you supported the #GWithTheT campaign and stood in solidarity with the transgender community. We are facing an unprecedented level of abuse at the moment, and it means a huge amount to us when our allies stand alongside us.
However while in the case of many other celebrities we would be over the moon at this news, in your case we’re afraid it’s an endorsement that comes with some baggage. Because when it comes to abuse of trans women, you’re somebody who is not entirely blameless. From early in the last decade you and your comedy partner David Walliams starred in a hit show called Little Britain, in which you both appeared as a succession of recurring characters. One of these featured a pair of trans women portrayed as a grotesque parody in outlandish dress and behaviour, continually misgendered by the narrator, and with a cringeworthy catch phrase: “I’m a laydee“.
It was this phrase that was enthusiastically taken up by a generation of street abusers and used against trans women for a decade or more. We certainly had it hurled at us when we were hesitantly coming out of the closet, and we can definitely say that your work caused us a lot of grief at an extremely difficult point in our lives. This is the Matt Lucas we remember, and instead of the Matt Lucas who endorses #GWithTheT it is the Matt Lucas whose words were on the lips of threatening drunks wanting to beat us up.
It probably doesn’t sit well with you to hear trans people describe you as a notorious enabler of transphobia and hate crime, after all you probably didn’t think of the consequences at the time, you were just having a laugh, and Little Britain was a fantastic success. But this is the lived experience of us and countless other trans women who had no choice but to go about their lives while the show was current. And yes, it was popular when it aired, but you could say the same about The Black And White Minstrel Show in the 1970s, and we’re sure you’ll agree in that case that the world has moved on.
Happily there is a way forward for you. One that can banish the Matt Lucas of “I’m a laydee” and those hateful drunks, and turn you back into the Matt Lucas of #GWithTheT, a respected ally of trans people. You and your comedy partner David Walliams can apologise unreservedly for the “Laydee” sketches, you can recognise publicly the damage that they caused to the trans community, you can pledge to never perform them again, and you can withdraw them from your back catalogue. It’s understood that times change and people do things they later regret, so this is a rare chance to make amends. We’d all like to forget that unfortunate chapter, but while it still hangs around your neck you can be sure that the trans community will not be able to. Please do the right thing.
The nGendr team