Jonathan Van Ness is "so tired" of defending trans rights in emotional podcast with Dax Shephard

The two got into a heated discussion

Jonathan Van Ness on Tuesday, September 24, 2019
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Jonathan Van Ness appeared on Dax Shepard's podcast Armchair Expert on Monday.

The Queer Eye star had been invited to speak about their own podcast, but the conversation quickly turned to trans rights.

Dax wanted to have what he felt was a balanced debate, but Jonathan was quick to remind him that what they were discussing wasn't just a political topic, but one that affects many people's lives in very direct ways. For context, Van Ness identifies as trans and nonbinary, and uses they/them pronouns. As such, they found the turn the discussion was taking very upsetting.

It all started when Dax called the New York Times a "left-leaning" publication, and Jonathan vehemently disagreed. "The New York Times isn't a left-leaning [platform]," they said. "They're anti trans, they platform multiple anti-trans people, and if we want to get my phone out I can look it up so that I'm not misspeaking... To be against trans liberation and queer liberation in the year of our Lord 2023 makes you absolutely not progressive and left-leaning."

They then moved on to discuss JK Rowling's anti-trans opinions, the issue of trans girls and women in sports, and the ramifications of teenagers choosing to transition.

After a very long conversation, Jonathan finally said: "I’m not calling you a transphobe. You can not be transphobic and still have thoughts that espouse trans misogyny and espouse transphobic ideologies and beliefs."

Hearing how upset they were getting, Dax said: "I did not intend at all to get into a debate with you about this. I didn't want that at all. I adore you. I think you're hysterical and talented, and I love that you're an activist."

Jonathan then said, their voice breaking: "I could just, like, cry because I'm like, so tired of having to, like, fight for little kids because they just want to be included.

"I wish that people were as passionate about little kids being able to, like, be included or grow up as they were about fictitious women's fairness in sports. I have to tell you I am very tired."

People on social media found this whole situation quite triggering.

One person wrote: "I feel like non-LGBTQ+ people often like to be the "devil's advocate" in convos around LGBTQ+ issues with queer folks. 

"To them, it's not personal. Just a fun ol' debate.

"To us, it's literally about our ability to exist in society."

The LGBTQ+ media monitoring organisation GLAAD wrote: "Thank you to Jonathan Van Ness (@jvn) for your brilliance and strength in speaking out in support of trans youth, and against the @nytimes biased, inaccurate coverage."

Iris Goldsztajn
Iris Goldsztajn is a celebrity and royal news writer for Marie Claire. As a London-based freelance journalist, she writes about wellness, relationships, pop culture, beauty and more for the likes of InStyle, Women's Health, Bustle, Stylist and Red. Aside from her quasi-personal investment in celebs' comings and goings, Iris is especially interested in debunking diet culture and destigmatising mental health struggles. Previously, she was the associate editor for Her Campus, where she oversaw the style and beauty news sections, as well as producing gift guides, personal essays and celebrity interviews. There, she worked remotely from Los Angeles, after returning from a three-month stint as an editorial intern for in New York. As an undergraduate at the University of California, Los Angeles, she interned at goop and C California Style and served as Her Campus' national style and LGBTQ+ editor. Iris was born and raised in France by a French father and an English mother. Her Spotify Wrapped is riddled with country music and One Direction, and she can typically be found eating her body weight in cheap chocolate.