Lil Mama (left) and Leiomy Maldonado (right).

US rapper Lil Mama has apologised for making demeaning comments about a participant in an episode of America’s Best Dance Crew.

While appearing as a judge in the August 30 episode of the show, Lil Mama (born Niatia Jessica Kirkland) spoke to Leiomy Maldonado, a transgender dancer, saying:

“Leiomy, come on. Your behaviour…it’s unacceptable. I just feel that you always have to remember your truth. You were born a man and you are becoming a woman. If you’re going to become a woman, act like a lady. Don’t be a bird, like ‘Oh my god, I’m not doing this!’ You know what I’m saying? It gets too crazy and it gets confusing. You’re doing this for America. Even though you’re the face for transgenders, you’re the face of America right now with this group and it’s not about anybody else. It’s about y’all. You know what I’m saying? So do it for the team. Do it for the team.”

Following numerous complaints, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) contacted both MTV and the rapper, who later issued an apology:

“I would like to clarify anything that was misunderstood from Sunday’s show. My remarks were never meant to be disrespectful regarding Leiomy’s gender nor offensive to the LGBT community, which has been a community that has supported me in all my endeavours. However, in hindsight, I recognize that my words may have come across as hurtful. I spoke with her privately after the taping to express that it was not my intent to offend her or any member of the transgender community…”

GLAAD in turn said that while it thanked Lil Mama for her apology, the incident demonstrated the need for more education around the lives and experiences of transgender people.

“Lil Mama’s comments during her critique attempted to impose standards of conformity for gender identity and expression — a mistake that many people make. Contrary to what was said on the program, as an openly transgender woman and dance contestant, Leiomy is living her truth,” Robinson continued,” said Rashad Robinson, Senior Director of Media Programs at GLAAD.

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