Transparent creator Jill Soloway drew fire from certain members of the transgender community on Friday after posting an image on her Facebook feed on Thursday that appeared to take part in the mocking speculation surrounding Bruce Jenner’s gender identity. (As we covered in Outward previously, InTouch ran a blatantly transphobic cover with Jenner’s photo digitally altered to make it appear he was wearing garish makeup, and just this week US Weekly ran a more respectful story suggesting that Jenner may soon come out as trans on a new reality show.)
She issued an apology late Friday afternoon, writing: “I made a mistake; it was horrible judgment. My complacency is checked and it won’t happen again.”
Soloway’s post consisted of a version of the original Transparent publicity art in which all the characters’ faces had been replaced with members of the Kardashian/Jenner clan; Bruce Jenner took the place of Jeffrey Tambor’s Maura. Soloway’s caption under the mock-up, which bore the title “Transdashian,” read, “I couldn’t not. Someone sent it to me. Tell me it’s wrong and I’ll take it down.”
After trans people and allies—most notably PrettyQueer.com editor-in-chief Tom Léger and trans blogger Amelia—began to condemn the post as offensive, Soloway deleted it from her feed (though plenty of screen captures remained in circulation). In a stream of tweets, Léger criticized both Soloway and Transparent, alleging that this post was evidence of larger problems in the writer/director’s work. On the subject of Jenner himself, Léger wrote “Trans people look at this Bruce Jenner coverage and it is HEARTBREAKING to see someone go through that, not an opportunity to laugh at them.” Sounding a similar note, Ameila expressed regret for recommending the show to her friends.
Here’s Soloway’s apology in full:
Yesterday I saw an internet meme of the TRANSPARENT poster with the faces of Bruce Jenner and family photoshopped in to replace the Pfeffermans. It was not something we created, but as a long-time Kardashian fan and reality show obsessive, I impetuously regressed to a naïve, teenage self. It wasn’t until after I’d posted it on my Facebook page inviting debate that I saw it the way everyone else did: as a cruel mockery of the journey Bruce Jenner may or may not be undertaking. I took down the image immediately. Bruce Jenner has not said he is transitioning; his identity is his to share and no one else’s to determine. The well-being of the trans community is of utmost importance to me. As a cis woman I will never know what it is like to be trans. I acknowledge the hurt and pain of the trans community and welcome their feedback. I made a mistake; it was horrible judgment. My complacency is checked and it won’t happen again. Please accept my apology.
In an email, prominent trans writer and Outward contributor Parker Molloy said she was “really disappointed” that Soloway had posted the image, especially since she clearly sensed it could be offensive; but she expressed hope that Soloway would learn from the experience: “She’s now at a crossroads. She can listen to the people who say, ‘Ugh! Why are people so thin-skinned!?’ as I’m sure many people both inside and out of LGBTQ subset will do, or she can listen to the voices of people like Amelia.” Though Molloy did not mince words about the mistake Soloway’s post represented, she added that “I do still believe she’s on our side. I do believe she means well.”
Soloway’s apology may not represent the end of the criticism though. Molloy shared this deleted tweet exchange involving writers Tyler Coates, Roxane Gay, and Transparent writer’s P.A. Austin Dale, which is sure to raise eyebrows:*
*Correction, Jan. 30, 2015: This post originally misidentified Austin Dale’s position on Transparent as a writer. He is a writer’s PA.