Doctor Who alumnus John Barrowman pulls Transphobic Stunt at Comic Con

John Barrowman

Openly gay actor John Barrowman pulled off a transphobic stunt yesterday while addressing the casting of Jodie Whittaker in as the 13th Time Lord in the BBC series, Doctor Who.

Here’s a tweet that displays what Barrowman did:

According to Radio Times, Barrowman says that what he did “is to celebrate all the changes that are happening and being hated on Doctor Who right now.”

Barrowman pulled this stunt while trying to show his support for Jodie Whittaker as the new Doctor given all the sexist outrage.  But in referring to himself as “the transgender tardis,” he was being blatantly transphobic on his part.  I didn’t even know of his history of Barrowman’s use of trans slurs and being unapologetic about it until I was researching for this article.

I’m a transgender woman.  There are some in the gay community out there that say that they aren’t transphobic but when gay cis men wear dresses and say something along the lines of being transgender, it only re-enforces the stereotype that transgender women are just men in dresses.  Despite what Texas conservative politicians may tell you, we aren’t men–we’re women.  This leads to an increase in transgender people getting killed by cisgender people.  From someone of Barrowman’s stature, I would have expected better.

This isn’t the first time that Barrowman has gotten himself in trouble with the transgender community.

He got in trouble for using a trans slur in a video in 2014 and defended the use of the term, calling the people who complained as “haters” (Editor’s note: I didn’t come out to myself until November 2015).  A fan found it in June 2015 and Barrowman was called out for it.  He could have used it as a learning moment but instead chose not to apologize.  See this link for more.

Just because somebody is gay does not mean that they get a free pass for throwing the transgender community under the bus.  Even though Barrowman did call for a transgender companion to Whittaker’s Doctor, he does not get a free pass for his transphobic stunt.


I have been viciously abused online because of this article and related tweets.  I’m not engaging with anyone who can’t respect my identity and would rather intentionally misgender me (which is transphobic violence).  If you are cisgender, you don’t get the right to decide what is or isn’t transphobic.  Being in the LGBTQIA+ community doesn’t get you a free pass for transphobic comments or actions either.

Maybe the use of throwing us under the bus wasn’t the right phrase that I should have used but his actions were wrong.  His stunt does absolutely nothing for transgender rights when so many bathroom bills are being filed because transphobes view trans women as being men in dresses.




Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

4 thoughts on “Doctor Who alumnus John Barrowman pulls Transphobic Stunt at Comic Con

  1. Screw ’em.

    Yes, you have every right to be offended. Was he trying to be mean or just funny? Doesn’t matter. He mocked us.

    Part of being a writer as you know is to grow thick skin which I think you have in abundance. But don’t let the haters get you down. Accept that what you wrote was read, and it provoked reaction, and be satisfied with the knowledge you made an impact, even a negative one. It’s far better than being ignored!

  2. You did the absolute right thing, and you didn’t deserve harassment for standing up to transphobia. Cis people need to sit the fuck down and actually listen to us when we call out transphobes on their bs.

  3. How about a fellow transwoman who doesn’t believe it’s transphobic? Was it entirely appropriate? Maybe not, but you’re being way too damn quick to throw *him* under the bus for trying to be humorous and saying something that can be taken the wrong way. Everyone does that from time to time, and it’s not something you inherently need to apologize for, either. People are too quick to assume the worst and *far* too quick to throw out words like “transphobic.” By being so quick to do so, you’re doing more harm to the transcommunity than he did. He might be seen as playing into stereotypes, but you’re straight up making the community a joke, just like the “feminists” who throw out words like “mysoginist” and “sexist” at the slightest possibly not-favoring-women thing. If you want to be taken seriously by *everyone,* you need to be more aware of what you’re doing. Make an article about how you don’t approve of what he did/said. That’s fine. Don’t fucking call him “transphobic” for it, though. Transphobic are the people straight up trying to deny us rights, trying to deny us the ability to be who we are, trying to deny us our own life through physical violence and murder. Transphobic are the people who sit there raging at us, not someone who happens to make a comment that some people *might* interpret as transphobic.

    Remember the story of the boy who cried wolf. That’s what you’re doing here. You’re crying “transphobic!” in a situation that really *isn’t* and you’re making it harder for people to take it seriously when “transphobic!” is cried out in an actually transphobic situation.

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