Human Rights are Not Up for Debate

JVN just schooled Dax Shepard on trans rights, but they shouldn’t have had to

“I feel like I’m talking to my dad right now,” Queer Eye icon Jonathan Van Ness told Dax Shepard during a recent episode of the latter’s podcast, “Armchair Expert.” It’s a familiar feeling for most trans and nonbinary people: you’re talking to someone who should know better, but somehow, they still don’t.

It’s no wonder that the conversation between Van Ness and Shepard centered around the New York Times’ history of publishing bad faith studies and misinformation about trans issues. After some polite small talk, Shepard started grilling Van Ness about their problems with the Times (“They’re anti-trans, they platform multiple anti-trans people”) and defended the paper as “left-leaning.” Shepard also dismissed the idea that conservatives are uneducated, stating instead that they have an informed “difference of opinion.”

But Van Ness wasn’t having it. Pulling up every last one of the receipts, the influencer explained how the Times repeatedly platforms anti-trans voices, publishes shoddy studies on gender-affirming care, and embraces the lie that trans women have a “natural advantage” in women’s sports.

Shepard then went on to give his completely unasked-for opinion regarding gender-affirming care for transgender teens.

“Some people are very uncomfortable about teenagers transitioning,” Shepard stated. “How do we know that the person’s not gonna change their mind? Then there’s another counterargument. If they kill themselves, then that’s really f–king permanent. … To even question it makes you an enemy. I don’t think that’s the way forward.”

Shepard’s cis fragility was showing out in full force. Van Ness met it with honesty, patience, and exhaustion. Like so many of us, they found themselves in a position of fighting for trans humanity while Shepard hid behind the idea that he was “just asking questions.”

“I could just cry because I’m so tired of having to fight for little kids because they just want to be included,” Van Ness finally said. “I wish that people were as passionate about little kids being able to be included or grow up as they were about fictitious women’s fairness in sports. I have to tell you I am very tired.”

The exhaustion is palpable. If the average trans person on the street is worn out by defending their humanity to their parents, coworkers, and community members, imagine how tiring it must be, as one of the most visible nonbinary celebrities, to have to keep having these conversations over and over again.

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