The National Women’s Law Center, actress and comedian Sarah Silverman and creative agency Droga5 unveiled a new project Wednesday called the “Equal Payback Project,” whose aim was to raise awareness around the gender wage gap and equal pay for women. The launch featured a viral video starring Silverman, who jokes that she’s so tired of gender inequality that she’s going to get a sex change to avoid the wage gap.
The campaign’s goal was to draw attention to the economic inequalities women face at work. But the edgy subject matter has been controversial, and not everyone has been pleased with the campaign.
Some members of the transgender community took to Twitter Wednesday to respond to the ad, saying that they felt it makes light of the experiences and struggles of transgender people, and that it uses gender identity as a punchline.
Prominent writer and transgender activist Janet Mock tweeted, “Sex reassignment doesn’t help one advance in workplace. Ask one of the most underemployed populations: trans people.” Other writers and trans activists weighed in on Twitter as well.
“The Equal Payback Project uses Silverman’s brand of absurd humor to draw attention to this ludicrous situation – it was not our intent to make light of the serious issues transgender people face,” the National Women’s Law Center said in a statement Thursday on its website. “We will share statistics about job discrimination faced by transgender people as part of the Equal Payback Project. And we commit to using some of the resources raised by this project to bring awareness to the discrimination faced by transgender women and men.”
On Friday, Sarah Silverman herself took to social media to post a statement, saying: “If I literally got a sex change I would indeed find the work force far less friendly. The video wasn’t transphobic it was transignorant - never crossed my mind. But to my *unintentional* credit- people are talking about it & so begins awareness. Please don’t punish this cause because of my video. I certainly don’t only fight for causes that concern or benefit me and I expect the same of the vital trans community.”