Jim Collins Foundation Statement on Offensive “Sarah Silverman Closes the Gap” Video
The Jim Collins Foundation is deeply offended and saddened by the video produced by National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) and Sarah Silverman as part of the Equal Payback Project. As many people have noted in the controversy since the campaign launch, the video makes light of transgender people’s lives, and it neglects to mention the sky-high rates of employment discrimination and poverty that transgender people face.
We call upon NWLC to take down the video immediately. It was created at the expense of the transgender community, an already vulnerable, often misunderstood, and targeted population. And it does more than leave transgender women and men out from an important conversation on employment discrimination — it is dehumanizing and puts a stamp of approval on jokes about transgender people’s lives.
Gender-affirming surgeries are no laughing matter — there is a 41% attempted suicide rate in the transgender population that is directly linked to lack of access to medically necessary health care. Discrimination against transgender people is so prevalent that many transgender people struggle to survive. For many transgender people, access to surgery is out of reach, and the Jim Collins Foundation mission is to provide financial assistance to those people.
“We receive hundreds of letters from people in our community who are in need of health care and are hanging on by a thread,” said Tony Ferraiolo, JCF President and Co-Founder. “A national campaign mocking transgender people’s experiences and transgender men’s bodies is the last thing a suicidal person needs. That an organization of this magnitude wouldn’t be sensitive to this — I’m shocked.”
The Jim Collins Foundation applauds the many transgender men and women who have come forward to share their stories and explain why this video is so offensive. It is encouraging that so many allies are calling this out as well, and that the media is covering this serious issue.
While the NWLC and Sarah Silverman did not intend harm to the transgender community, that is in fact the impact that they have had, due in large part to a video that is still circulating, nearing a million views. The Jim Collins Foundation asks that NWLC, Sarah Silverman, and the Equal Payback Project not contribute any further damage to the transgender community, and instead, demonstrate that they really are listening by apologizing for the offense and removing the video from its campaign entirely.
ABOUT JIM COLLINS FOUNDATION
The Jim Collins Foundation raises money to fund gender-affirming surgeries for transgender people who need surgery to live a healthy life, but have no ability to pay for it themselves. We recognize that for those people who require surgery for a healthy gender transition, lack of access to surgery may result in hopelessness, depression, and sometimes, suicide. The Jim Collins Foundation is a community-based initiative promoting the self-determination and empowerment of all transgender people.