LivingSocial Ad Uses Transgender Americans As A Laugh Line

February 07, 2011 4:16 pm ET — Christine Schwen

Just one week after Saturday Night Live mocked transgender women with its "Estro-maxx" skit, LivingSocial joined the ranks of companies that think that transgender Americans make for an appropriate punch line.

The "LivingSocial Changed My Life" ad, which aired just before the Super Bowl, portrayed a man who "used to feel trapped" but is transformed by deals he got through LivingSocial that make him "feel free." At the end of the ad, we learn that freedom means wearing a dress and heels:

Trans people who really do feel trapped by having to live as the wrong gender must overcome very serious medical and personal hurdles, and — all too often — they face pervasive discrimination for simply being who they are. LivingSocial's choice to make a man in a dress the punch line of their ad makes an unnecessary joke of a very serious issue.

Just last week, the National Transgender Discrimination Survey found that 41 percent of transgender and gender non-conforming Americans surveyed have attempted suicide, compared to 1.6 percent of the general population. Moreover, they have double the rate of unemployment of the population at large, and 90 percent of them reported experiencing harassment, mistreatment, or discrimination at work.

As the survey demonstrated, issues affecting transgender Americans are no joke.