Words: Tim Heap
Chat-show host Jonathan Ross has now claimed to support trans women after facing a backlash for a tweet he made yesterday (18 March) that aligned him with transphobic writer Graham Linehan.
Once celebrated for creating the comedy series Father Ted, in recent years Linehan has made headlines for his aggressively transphobic stance, in which he has compared doctors treating trans youth to Nazis experimenting on children in concentration camps.
On Tuesday (17 March), Linehan tweeted: “Discovered another male celebrity mate trying to put pressure on people close to me to shut me up. It’s a fucking laugh, standing up for women, I tell you whut (sic).”
I struggle to understand the opinions of intelligent men I previously admired - Jon Ronson and Billy Bragg - that strike me as tragically ill-informed and depressingly self-aggrandising. I know you are paying a heavy price for this G, but I admire and applaud you.— Jonathan Ross (@wossy) March 17, 2020
In response, Ross typed: “I struggle to understand the opinions of intelligent men I previously admired — Jon Ronson and Billy Bragg — that strike me as tragically ill-informed and depressingly self-aggrandising. I know you are paying a heavy price for this G, but I admire and applaud you.”
Jon Ronson and Billy Bragg have both voiced beliefs that trans rights are human rights.
Soon after the exchange, Ross’s name was trending on Twitter, with many quickly criticising the TV star for his support of Linehan, and pointing out that he has also recently followed other anti-trans accounts, including LGB Alliance.
Asked by a Twitter user to make his position on transgender rights and freedom clear, he tweeted: “I support trans women. Yes.”
I support trans women. Yes.— Jonathan Ross (@wossy) March 18, 2020
However, he later added in a tweet to another user: "I support them. But I also support this who want a discussion to be had. This is not a simple binary issue."
I support them. But I also support this who want a discussion to be had. This is not a simple binary issue. Stay well.— Jonathan Ross (@wossy) March 19, 2020
Ross’s brand of comedy has previously veered into homophobic and transphobic territory.
In 2009, he commented that “if your son asks for a Hannah Montana MP3 player, then you might want to already think about putting him down for adoption in later life,” and in 2012 he joked about “lady boys” and “concealed weapons” with regards to an airline’s decision to hire transgender flight crew.
Last year, Linehan’s anti-trans crusade inadvertently raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for trans charity Mermaids.
In response to Linehan’s attempt to enlist Mumsnet users to complain to the National Lottery about a £500,000 grant it had awarded to Mermaids, YouTuber Harry Brewis, aka HBomberGuy, live-streamed himself playing Donkey Kong for 60 hours, for which he received donations from around the world.
Brewis later received an Attitude Pride Award – watch the video below to hear his story: