Last Week Tonight host John Oliver dedicated Sunday’s episode to unpacking and debunking the flurry of misinformation and fear-mongering surrounding transgender rights in America. “In the past few years, some on the right have truly lost their minds about trans rights,” Oliver began, diverting to a series of clips in which U.S. politicians mock the idea of pronouns.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Oliver paints a much larger picture, expanding beyond those public figures “stoking fear” around trans rights (part of the constantly discriminatory, negative press coverage trans people endure) and examining the country’s current trajectory: This year, America will pass a record amount of anti-transgender bills.
“So much of the fear of and the arguments against transgender people seems to flow from misinformation and misunderstanding,” Oliver explains. The host shared clips from VICE documentary Transgender in Texas and Hulu’s Changing the Game, the latter of which centered trans kids fighting to participate in sports.
“When supported, trans kids can experience full, vibrant lives,” Oliver says. “Trans people are not by default unhappier or more prone to suffering than everyone else. That is something that we are putting on them.”
Oliver also looked into what he deems is the center of most conspiracies from conservatives: gender-affirming care, or care that is designed to affirm a person’s gender identity — which, according to Columbia University “greatly improves the mental health and overall well-being of gender diverse, transgender, and nonbinary children and adolescents.” Oliver also examines hoaxes such as false claims about kids identifying as cats, saying, “The fact that you seem to genuinely think that that’s happening is just heartbreakingly stupid.”
The current state of trans rights is alarming, indeed, as Oliver breaks down so vitally. His parting words, however, say it best: “To the extent that some young people are just exploring their gender identity, how exactly is that a bad thing?” he exclaims. “Who the fuck are they hurting?”