John Oliver dedicated the latest edition of his Emmy-winning series Last Week Tonight to transgender rights—specifically, the way conservatives have short-circuited over transgender youths.
“More people do seem comfortable coming out as trans and gender nonconforming, which is great. But, as you’ve undoubtedly noticed, in the past few years some on the right have truly lost their minds about trans rights, perhaps best encapsulated by their favorite new joke,” said Oliver.
The HBO host then cut to a montage of conservatives saying their pronouns are everything from “conservative” to “USA,” culminating with a clip of Ted Cruz, perhaps the biggest blowhard in Congress, saying, “I’m Ted Cruz, and my pronoun is ‘kiss my ass.’”
Oliver proceeded to explain that more than 100 anti-trans bills have been introduced in U.S. statehouses over the past year, while 12 states have signed or enacted them, “with all of this happening against a backdrop of violence and threats, including attacks and harassment aimed at hospitals providing gender-affirming care to youth.”
Anti-trans bigots like Abigail Shrier have even started inventing terms like “rapid onset gender dysphoria” to describe the rise in trans youths.
“As for the rapid rise in kids identifying as trans, as the writer Julia Serano has pointed out, when you look at a chart of left-handedness among Americans in the 20th century, you see a massive spike when we stopped forcing kids to write with their right hand, and then a plateau,” explained Oliver. “That doesn’t mean everyone became left-handed, or that there was a rapid onset southpaw dysphoria. It means people were free to be who they fucking were.”
“And, to the extent that some young people are just exploring their gender identity, how exactly is that a bad thing? Who the fuck are they hurting?” asked Oliver. “Watching the conversation around this, it is hard not to feel like, to the extent that there is any social contagion here, it is among adults who have whipped themselves into such a frenzy that they can find themselves repeating some humiliating nonsense.”
The “stupidest” of which, according to Oliver, is a new talking point from right-wingers about kids who are apparently so confused about their identity that they think they’re cats and dogs, and are using litter boxes in classrooms. This, of course, is a ridiculous hoax that’s been spread by right-wing lawmakers and amplified by Joe Rogan’s podcast.
“The fact that you seem to genuinely think that that’s happening is just heartbreakingly stupid,” exclaimed Oliver. “Because when you think about it for literally two seconds, the whole thing falls apart. For one, if kids were using litter boxes in class, a state representative from Minnesota would not be the one breaking that news from you. You would have fucking heard about it. If a kid shat in a litter box in first period, it would be the only thing anyone in that state was talking about by lunch.”