British actor and comedian John Cleese, best known for his work on Monty Python, has been criticized after he made several transphobic remarks.
His tweets were sparked after he defended J.K. Rowling, who has repeatedly suggested trans women's rights impede upon cis women's rights. Cleese signed a later in September that showed his support for the Harry Potter author, who has refused to apologize or backtrack on her controversial comments. When asked why he had stood with Rowling's harmful rhetoric regarding trans folk, the actor suggested that his concerns lay elsewhere.
"I'm afraid I'm not that interested in trans folks," he said in a tweet on Sunday. "I just hope they're happy and that people treat them kindly. Right now, I'm more focused on threats to democracy in America, the rampant corruption in the UK, the appalling British press, the revelations about police brutality." Before that tweet, he responded to someone asking why he can't "let people be who they want to be," and said that he wants to be "a Cambodian police woman."
Another individual suggested that Cleese, an 81-year-old as of last month, is approaching the subject with a "pretty superficial understanding." He replied, "Yes, my understanding is superficial. One thing: When a woman who was once a man is competing against women who have always been women, I think she has an advantage, because she inherited a man's body, whis is usually bigger than a woman's. Does that prove phobia?"
It's worth pointing out that the "unfair sports advantage argument" is a common deflection tactic used by transphobes, who seem to believe that treating others with respect isn't as important as determining whether sports are fair or unfair.
Queer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness, who is non-binary, also replied to John Cleese's tweets. "You’ve made several transphobic comments here," Van Ness wrote. "You do seem to not only be interested in trans folks, but also adding to transphobia at a time when trans people are being murdered world wide. Trans & non binary people aren’t being treated kindly. Instead of worrying about American democracy worry about the transphobia gripping the UK. Worry about the staggering inequality your country faces & keep LGBTQ issues out of your chapped ass lip having mouth unless you due to some miracle become an ally."
In a third tweet, Van Ness added that Cleese and Rowling have been "cruel" by "constantly" punching down "onto a marginalized group of people."