Video Friday: Edith Bunker, Transgender Ally, 1977; Jeff Platt, Ally, 2014

Edith's Crisis of Faith - Part 2 - Clip

I’m putting the finishing touches on the discussion I’ve been posting about here in prep for the Kaiser Permanente 2nd Annual LGBTQI Health Symposium in Universal City, California, next week (More info about the Symposium itself here).

I’ll be talking about being an ally to people who are transgender, which has been an incredible journey, and connection to unconscious bias.

One of my esteemed physician colleagues, John Mattison, MD (@johnemattison) suggested that I show clips contrasting bias then and now, and I immediately thought of these clips from the television shows, All in the Family aired in the 1970’s, and Undercover Boss aired in this decade. They show how being an ally has changed….

First, a clip from 1975, from the episode “Archie the Hero” showing what’s clearly explicit bias on the part of Archie Bunker, who saves the life of a person who is later found out to be a cross dressing man named Beverly La Salle.

If you keep watching, you’ll see a subtle nod to tolerance that goes a certain distance, but not all the way, in 1975.

It’s worth pointing out that in the 1970’s, the distinction between cross dressing and being transgender was not as understood, and definitely not on national TV, however, given the context I would consider this a discussion about trans* people in general.

Next clip, aired on December 25, 1977, from the two part episode “Edith’s Crisis of Faith,” featuring the same character Beverly La Salle, about a world less loving, and an ally’s attempt to deal with it.

Note, this aired on Christmas Day, an impressive time to make a statement far ahead of its time.

Edith’s Crisis of Faith, Part 1 of this two part series, was aired on December 18, 1977 (Click to see it here on Youtube)

I consider this a very bold, ahead-of-its time discussion of this topic. How far have we come in 37 years? In some ways, not very, in others….

Now watch this clip from CBS’ Undercover Boss, aired March 15, 2014, featuring “Breckin” and Sky Zone CEO Jeff Platt (@Skyzone @PlattJeff) (In case the clip is not functional, go to 37:43)

Notice the themes in this clip – about being able to live one’s life, respecting the person as having an important contribution to make to a company and society (“we need more people like you.”).

Well done CBS 1977 and CBS 2014. It is terrific to be able to look back today and see that it is getting better, and thanks for confirming that we are not the first allies, and we won’t be the last, because love always wins 🙂 .


As you’ve noted before, I well remember being with you in SF after election day 2008, when Obama was elected and Prop 8 didn’t go our way.

I’m in SoCal right now (Santa Monica) and will still be in California on 5/2, but by then I’ll be up in SF. I will be standing with you.

Ted Eytan, MD