Ofcom has received more than 50 complaints about an episode of ITV comedy Moving Wallpaper over alleged transphobia.
The complaints focus on an episode aired on 20th March, in which trans character Georgina was mocked by other characters.
Viewers complained that she was the subject of a barrage of taunts such as “She’s a walking GM crop, it’s not natural” and her identity was derided by the other characters, who referred to her as “it” and ‘joking’ about her “hairy hands, stubbly face and Adam’s apple”.
A Facebook group of 424 members is encouraging viewers to complain to Ofcom, arguing that production company Kudos “blatantly flouted official guidelines in order to use a transsexual character as the butt of cruelty”.
The show’s broadcast has inspired Ryan Combs to create a group called Trans Media Watch, which “serves to acknowledge transphobic rhetoric where it exists and call people to action to fight against harmful representations of trans people and trans lives.”
In response to a letter of complaint, an ITV spokesperson apologised, saying: “It is never our intention to upset or to offend our viewers but obviously for you on this occasion we got it completely wrong.
“The episode did highlight, in a comedic way, the prejudice suffered by many, and I should like to mention that positive comments were made by the characters of Gillian and Kelly in defence of Georgina to counter those made by Jonathan Pope.”
This apology has not been accepted by all of the complainants. Felix Garnet, of Trans Media Watch told PinkNews.co.uk: “ITV was disingenuous by saying the programme was to highlight prejudice.
“The rationale [behind ITV's apology] is that the character Georgina was supported by other characters, but we feel the supportive comments were weak”
Georgina, as a guest character on the show, did not have “the opportunity to defend herself,” Felix claimed.
“The behaviour of the characters is typical of illegal abuse suffered by trans people in the workplace.”
Professor Stephen Whittle, on behalf of Press For Change, also complained to Ofcom:
He said: “This programme set out to belittle, abuse and insult a transsexual woman, in ways that were completely unacceptable and inciting public derision and hatred of transsexual people.”
An ITV spokesman said this afternoon: “Moving Wallpaper is a well established satirical comedy now in its second series. All material broadcast was in the context of the nature of the programme and there was absolutely no intention to offend. ITV has a strong record in the positive portrayal of lesbian, gay and transgender characters.”