Transgender anchor sues BET for $2.5 million because he couldn’t host segment in drag
LOS ANGELES, August 8, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Cross-dressing internet gossip columnist and sometime-television personality Brandon Sessoms, who goes by the stage name B. Scott, has filed a $2.5 million gender discrimination lawsuit against Black Entertainment Television (BET) after the network demanded he wear “masculine” attire at a recent awards show.
Sessoms, 32, is an openly homosexual man who calls himself “transgender,” because he believes that his “spirit” is neither male nor female.
While he admits that “biologically, I am male — as my sex was determined at birth by my reproductive organs,” he says “my spirit truly lies somewhere in between. It is that same spirit that has allowed me to become so comfortable in my skin, choose how I express myself, and contributes to how I live my day-to-day life.“
On June 30, Sessoms felt led by that “spirit” to wear a flowing sheer caftan, loose-fitting women’s pants, and high-heeled pumps to host a fashion-themed red-carpet pre-show at the BET awards in Los Angeles.
He wore his long hair sleek and loose, and applied a full face of dramatic makeup.
He says that after his first interview, a BET employee pulled him aside and told him his attire “wasn’t acceptable.” He said he was asked to pull his hair back into a ponytail, take off most of his makeup, and change into a fitted blue blazer, slim-fit black pants, and sparkly blue flats – a look he deemed too “masculine.”
In the end, he was replaced with another anchor on the red carpet, to return only toward the end of the segment, in a much smaller role.
At the time, Sessoms posted an open letter to his website, telling his fans, whom he calls his “love muffins,” that he was surprised and hurt by BET’s request. He claimed the network had pre-approved his outfit and that no one on site gave him any notice there was a problem until it was too late.
Now, citing “time lost, humiliation and emotional distress,” Scott is demanding monetary compensation and a public apology from the network.
“Over the years my love muffins and strangers alike have questioned me about my gender identity,” Scott wrote on his website, explaining why he sued. “What IS B. Scott? As a society we’ve been conditioned to believe that a person has to be ‘exactly’ this or ‘exactly’ that.”
Wrote Sessoms, “I accept and welcome the ‘transgender’ label with open arms.”
For that reason, Sessoms claimed, “BET and Viacom willingly and wrongfully discriminated against my gender identity during the 2013 BET Awards Pre-Show.”
"It's not just about the fact that BET forced me to pull my hair back, asked me to take off my makeup, made me change my clothes and prevented me from wearing a heel,” Sessoms said. “It's more so that from the mentality and environment created by BET made me feel less than and that something was wrong with who I am as a person."
Added Sessoms, “I’m suing BET and Viacom for a true public apology and to be fairly remunerated for the time lost, humiliation and emotional distress this entire situation has put me through.”
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“After rushing to make it to the red carpet in time, I was escorted by several members of production down to the stage,” he recalled. “Everybody I spoke with commented on how fabulous I looked. There was never any indication that there was an issue.”
But then, an employee “yanked” him backstage and “they asked me to pull my hair back, they asked me to change my attire.”
“I wasn’t wearing a ball gown and stiletto heels,” Sessoms protested. “I was wearing long pants, and a long shirt.” Sessoms said, “I was hurt.”
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