Is Ricky Gervais Transphobic?
Since the release of his latest show, Super Nature, comedian Ricky Gervais has been accused of making a number of transphoic remarks. One of which, involved ‘jokes’ about transgender women raping and attacking people in public toilets.
Quite soon into the Netflix special, Gervais made controversial comments, such as declaring women assigned female at birth as “old fashioned women, the ones with wombs.” He then continued: “And now the old-fashioned ones say, ‘Oh they want to use our toilets,’ ‘Why shouldn’t they use your toilets?’ ‘For Ladies!’ ‘They are ladies, look at their pronouns. ‘What about this person isn’t a lady?’ ‘Well, his penis.’ ‘Her penis, you f**king bigot!”
Then the tone became noticeably darker, as often Gervais’ comedy does: “What if he rapes me?’ ‘What if she rapes you, you f**king TERF whore.” In the trans debate, there has been a stereotype that transgender women are rapists. And, in Ricky’s dialogue, he seemingly reaffirms this falsehood.
On Twitter, trans people and allies took to their keyboards to share their disappointment in an individual who, on occasion, seemed to care about minority communities. “5 minutes in and he’s making jokes about trans women attacking and raping people in public bathrooms. To him, we only exist as a punchline, a threat, something less than human,” one account shared.
Another user tweeted, “Ricky Gervais could go after the governments, banks billionaires – the ones causing actual harm to ordinary people all around the world on an unfathomable scale every single day. But he goes after trans people instead. Yeah Ricky, son, you speak your truth to power.”
GLAAD, an LGBTQ+ non-governmental organisation in the US quickly released their statement about the show, saying, “We watched the Ricky Gervais ‘comedy’ special on Netflix, so you don’t have to. It’s full of graphic, dangerous, anti-trans rants masquerading as jokes.” GLAAD then continued to discuss the homophobic material in the stand-up, which spreads inaccurate information about HIV, “Attention Ricky and Netflix: people living with HIV today, when on effective treatment, lead long and healthy lives and cannot transmit HIV to others.” The statement is a counterbalance to the misinformation some of the comments in Supernature.
In a recent interview with The Spectator, Gervais defended his material, implying that the “target wasn’t trans folk, but the trans activist ideology.” He added, “I’ve always confronted dogma that oppresses people and limits freedom of expression. It was probably the most current, most talked about, taboo subject of the last couple of years.” Recently, the transgender community has been the scapegoat of many awful political campaigns. Transphobic hate is whipped up in society for political goals and often has horrific consequences for trans people, including online hate, physical abuse and in extreme cases, murder.
A 2021 survey by TransActual, a UK charity, recorded that 85% of trans women have reported being subjected to ‘transphobic street harassment from strangers’, 99% of trans people have experienced transphobia on social media and 93% of all participants reported that transphobia in the media had impacted their experiences of transphobia from strangers in the street. Based on these few statistics alone, it’s clear that this is a community that needs support from well-known figures in popular culture.