Connect with us

News Analysis

Joe Rogan: COVID-19 misinfo, right-wing myths, & anti-trans rhetoric

“Called out for peddling dangerous rhetoric, he shields himself claiming he should not be considered a ‘respected source of information”

Published

on

Joe Rogan 'Wrapped on Spotify' graphic vis Media Matters for America

By Alex Paterson | WASHINGTON – Throughout his first full year streaming exclusively on Spotify, host Joe Rogan has repeatedly used his podcast to broadcast conspiracy theories, COVID-19 misinformation, and anti-trans rhetoric to millions of listeners across the globe. One year into his contract, it’s clear that Spotify’s $100 million paycheck to Rogan is funding increasingly dangerous and bigoted content.

Media Matters monitored over 350 hours of The Joe Rogan Experience over the past year and found that the show is grounded in misinformation and bigotry. To coincide with Spotify’s 2021 Wrapped — an annual summary of the trends on the streaming platform — we compiled some of the worst examples of Rogan’s sexist, racist, and harmful commentary over the past year — all paid for by Spotify.

Rogan is a veritable megaphone of right-wing lies, and when he is called out for peddling dangerous rhetoric, he shields himself from any accountability by claiming he should not be considered a “respected source of information.” He has also repeatedly praised Spotify for being a safe space for him as the platform has refused to do anything to quell the misinformation and hate on his show; Rogan once told a guest that anti-trans attacks are acceptable on his show, saying, “You can say whatever you want. We’re on Spotify.”

The Joe Rogan Experience is broadcast exclusively on Spotify and was the most popular podcast on the platform in 2021 and 2020. As The Washington Post noted in May, “With an estimated 11 million listeners per episode, Rogan reaches nearly four times as many people as prime-time cable hosts such as Sean Hannity of Fox News Channel and Rachel Maddow of MSNBC.” 

COVID-19 misinformation

  • On April 23, Rogan encouraged “healthy” young people not to get a COVID-19 vaccine, saying, “If you’re like 21 years old, and you say to me, should I get vaccinated? I’ll go no.” According to The Verge, Spotify reviewed these comments but did not find them in violation of any policies, thus leaving the episode live. Public health experts and White House officials like Dr. Anthony Fauci condemned Rogan’s comments.
  • On April 28, Rogan falsely claimed that any lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19 “makes things worse,” saying, “It’s worse. It makes things worse, you know why — because people go inside. They are trapped inside and that’s where it spreads.”
  • On May 14, he falsely claimed that far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was “right” about “actual microchips being injected into your arm to see if you have COVID-19.” 
  • On June 22, Rogan dedicated an entire episode of his podcast to promoting ivermectin as a prophylactic and therapeutic for COVID-19, even though it’s an unproven and potentially dangerous treatment for the disease. During the podcast, guest Bret Weinstein claimed that a study showed “ivermectin alone, if properly utilized, is capable of driving this pathogen to extinction,” and Rogan made unsubstantiated claims about its use for prevention of COVID-19, saying, “All it means is to take the drug to anticipate that you may get it, so if you’re in a high-risk area you take it and it’ll protect you from infection.”
  • On July 20, Rogan promoted the right-wing lie that the government was planning to monitor private citizens’ text messages for anti-vaccine misinformation, saying, “Have you seen the new thing about SMS text messages to stop COVID vaccine misinformation? … Saagar [Enjeti] from Breaking Points sent me this. We were talking about this recently. They are monitoring SMS texts for dangerous misinformation about COVID vaccines.”
  • On August 6, Rogan fearmongered that vaccine passports would move the U.S. “one step closer to dictatorship” and lied that getting the coronavirus vaccine is not effective in preventing the disease, saying, “All you hear is take this vaccine that doesn’t even prevent you from getting the disease, or you can’t go to the sauna or wherever the fuck you want to go. … If it was a vaccine — it’s more of a treatment than it is a vaccine, really, if you look at it.”
  • On August 12, Rogan promoted the baseless right-wing narrative fearmongering that immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border were causing a surge in COVID-19 cases, saying, “They are letting in — so Greg Abbott, the governor, the great governor of the state of Texas, was correct — they are letting in thousands and thousands of people who are positive with COVID.”
  • On August 20, he falsely asserted that mRNA coronavirus vaccines are “really gene therapy” and lied that it is “not logical, it’s not rational, and it’s not supported by science” to advise people with natural immunity to get a coronavirus vaccine. Notably, Rogan has made the same false claim that mRNA vaccines are a form of “gene therapy” on August 18September 21November 8, and November 10.
  • On September 23, Rogan fearmongered that vaccine passports will lead to a “social credit system similar to what they have in China.”
  • On September 30, Rogan baselessly suggested that President Joe Biden did not actually receive a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot, falsely claiming that it would be unsafe and potentially deadly to do so on live TV. 
  • On November 10, he repeatedly spread the baseless claim that the Biden administration is trying to stop people from receiving monoclonal antibodies, a COVID-19 treatment, “because it discourages people from getting vaccinated.” Rogan repeated this claim on the November 26 edition of his show, asserting that the treatment is being withheld because “they don’t want there to be a very clear path where you don’t have to be vaccinated but if you get sick you’re going to be fine.” 
  • On November 22, Rogan falsely asserted that children do not need to get a COVID-19 vaccine, saying, “They’re trying to say that children need it when they don’t. They don’t need it.” 
  • Later in that episode, Rogan baselessly claimed that use of ivermectin “essentially cured COVID” in Uttar Pradesh, India. 

Anti-trans rhetoric

  • On June 25, Rogan lied that “there’s not a lot of overwhelming, overt discrimination against people who are trans, like, publicly other than the sports thing” and prisons.
  • On July 3, Rogan mocked and misgendered a young person who came out as trans to his friends. He also said that “it’s fashionable” to be nonbinary, later claiming, “It’s going to get worse.” He also asserted, “I think people are going to be transracial. I think in the next few years transracialism is going to be, like, fully embraced. And then we’re going to have Black folks on our side, because they’re going to go hey, … this is crazy. All this stuff about trans women competing in the Olympics, that wasn’t as bothersome.”
  • On August 12, Rogan agreed with his guest Andrew Schulz’s comments when Schulz used an anti-trans slur and compared trans people to QAnon conspiracy theorists, asserting, “QAnon is just like conservative t—–s. That’s really all they are.” Rogan also claimed that being nonbinary is “very, very self-indulgent,” and said that trans people are “not experiencing real adversity or, you know, real discrimination, so you create discrimination against yourself.”
  • On August 20, Rogan asserted that “men transitioning to women use male tactics and male behavior as they invade feminist spaces,” “tend to be more assertive,” and “dominate whenever possible if left unchecked.” He also said that trans women “use male tactics and male behavior as they invade feminist spaces” and “dominate them like men do.” 
  • Later in that episode, Rogan derided an unnamed trans woman, saying she had a “terrorist beard” and that “there’s no way you’re a woman.” Rogan continued, “There are definitely people with legitimate gender dysphoria that want to be a woman, and they’re biologically male. And then there’s grifters. There’s crazy people. There’s people who have locked on to this movement.”
  • On November 3, Rogan used an anti-trans slur, lamenting, “You can’t say t—-y,” before his guest repeatedly used the slur. He also mocked the idea of a comedian using they/them pronouns, saying, “Imagine if there is a comic who gave into that.”

Right-wing misinformation and bigotry

  • On January 30, Rogan commented on actor Angelina Jolie’s genitals, saying, “Crazy pussy is the best pussy. … She’s clearly crazy.” He also demeaned Jolie for developing Bell’s palsy, saying, “That’s the problem with crazy is crazy comes with all sorts of neurotic shit.”
  • On May 13, Rogan lamented the so-called effects of “woke culture,” saying, “It keeps going further and further down the line and if you get to the point where you capitulate, where you agree to all these demands, it’ll eventually get to straight white men are not allowed to talk, because it’s your privilege to express yourself when other people of color have been silenced throughout history.” 
  • On July 3, Rogan imitated people who speak Mandarin and questioned, “Is that racist to do that, to imitate a sound?” He also imitated an Asian accent on the November 3 edition of his show.
  • On July 29, Rogan claimed that journalist Lauren Sanchez is an “alpha predator female” and agreed with his guest’s claim that her “puss puss is probably incredible because girls like that, you got to respect they know that that’s their job.”
  • On August 8, Rogan used an anti-Chinese slur, complaining, “You can’t say Chinaman.”
  • On October 6, Rogan called people who had criticized his guest on TikTok “retarded.” After his guest replied “you can’t say that,” Rogan said, “But I’m on Spotify. You can get away with it.” He also said the word on November 26 edition of his show and claimed that the word means “you’ve been held back in learning because you’ve applied the wrong kind of thinking to things. It does not mean someone with Down syndrome, and this idea that those two are … the same thing and it’s a slur or it’s a terrible thing to say, that’s not true. It’s not right.”
  • On November 3, Rogan pushed the right-wing lie that Dr. Anthony Fauci and the National Institute of Health funded “experiments on these beagle puppies and they put their heads in cages and filled the cages with sand flies where the sand flies were literally eating the beagles alive.”
  • On November 26, Rogan claimed that the Democratic establishment will “kill people on purpose that are causing problems” and said, “You have this organization that’s based on this sort of cronyism and [House Majority Leader] Nancy Pelosi is the head witch.”
  • In that same episode, Rogan spread the right-wing lie that Biden called Kyle Rittenhouse — the teenager who killed two people in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last year and was later aquitted — a “white supremacist.”

*********************

Alex Paterson is a researcher for the LGBTQ program at Media Matters, where he has worked since 2019. Alex holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Montana State University and has a background in LGBTQ advocacy, including previous work at the National LGBTQ Task Force and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

********************

The preceding article was previously published by Media Matters for America and is republished by permission.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
FUND LGBTQ JOURNALISM
SIGN UP FOR E-BLAST

News Analysis

The political smear campaign to stop same-sex marriage bill

Liberty Counsel’s CEO amplified the lie that same-sex marriage would lead to “grooming” and child sexual exploitation

Published

on

Supporters of same-sex marriage gather at the U.S. Supreme Court during oral arguments for Obergefell v. Hodges 2015 (Blade photo by Michael Key)

WASHINGTON – A procedural vote on the Respect for Marriage Act legislation (H.R. 8404/S. 4556) in the Senate, which requires 60 votes to succeed, is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Eastern on Nov. 28. Ahead of the Monday vote the major anti-LGBTQ+ hate organizations are executing a full court press to get Republicans Senators to derail the bill.

Listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s ‘Hatewatch‘ for lies, propaganda, and smearing of LGBTQ+ people, the Family Research Council, (FRC) based in Washington D.C., Liberty Counsel based in Orlando, Florida, The Alliance Defending Freedom, (ADF) based in Scottsdale, Arizona, and the National Organization for Marriage, (NOM) also based in Washington D.C., have escalated a publicity campaign smearing the intent of the law and labeling it ‘perversion and child sexual abuse.’

The president and CEO of Liberty Counsel, Mat Staver, sent out several email blasts to supporters urging them to contact GOP Senators to stop the bill. In a tweet Stavers said; “It doesn’t matter what courts, legislatures or voters say. They do not define marriage, God does.”

In one email Stavers wrote: “On MONDAY, senators are scheduled to vote on a sickening bill that will normalize child-bride, same-sex and pedophiliac “marriages” in every state. Several amendments will be debated, and then the Senate will need another 60 votes to proceed. We can stop HR 8404 if we let the Senate hear from us NOW!”

Stavers then amplified the lie that same-sex marriage would lead to “grooming” and child sexual exploitation: “Children have always been under demonic attack because they represent a new generation. But this evil attack is being unmasked now under the “Respect for Marriage” bill like never before. It will put a target on children in at-risk families to be groomed for abuse and makes this molestation legal—if done within the confines of “marriage.”

“This level of debauchery has always been the goal. Our nation is on the cusp of making sexual abuse against children legal,” Stavers said.

The ADF and FRC are raising alarm over the bill saying that the legislation poses a threat to religious liberty. A conservative right-wing religious journal, the official news media of the Missouri Baptist Convention, cautioned that both ADF and FRC, labeling those groups as faith-based policy experts, stated the bill “shows great disrespect for marriage, and intolerance for those who hold a traditional or biblical worldview.” The bill “is an intentional attack on the religious freedom of millions of Americans with sincerely held beliefs about marriage, based on dictates of faith in God and His revealed Truth.”

Family Research Council president Tony Perkins released the following statement after the “Respect for Marriage” Act passed the first step in a full Senate vote for passage or defeat:

“The U.S. Senate is making a mockery of marriage as it tramples on a foundational right — religious freedom of the individual. Whether by the Court or by the Congress, truth cannot be altered. Regardless of the action of Congress, there are millions of Americans who will remain steadfast in their love for their fellow human being, by remaining committed to these truths: that marriage is ordained by God and men and women are created in His image.”

Stavers in his email and public statements noted: “Alfred Kinsey’s [See note below] work is being used to destroy marriage, replacing that honorable estate with perversion and child sexual abuse … just as Kinsey intended. This is their end goal—to legalize this perversion and to silence the opposition.

HR 8404 is built on the foundation of Kinsey. This bill that will expand child-bride, same-sex and pedophiliac “marriages” in every state—is scheduled for debate and more votes on MONDAY!”

The amplification of the hate-filled rhetoric comes as the LGBTQ+ community is coming to terms with another horrific act of violence, this time in Colorado Springs, resulting in the death of five people at the LGBTQ+ nightclub Club Q.

Incoming HRC President Kelley Robinson, in an interview with the Blade’s White House correspondent Chris Kane, cautioned:

“What we saw this past year is that our opposition gets intersectionality,” Robinson said. “They are coming for us, for all of us,” she said, citing as examples the Supreme Court’s decision revoking Americans’ constitutional right to abortion, the hateful rhetoric of Fox News host Tucker Carlson, and recent spate of statewide anti-LGBTQ bills.

“They are launching an intersectional attack against us and trying to divide our power,” she said. “And we are going to fight back together, because ultimately we are stronger together.”

One organization that had long opposed same-sex marriage had an abrupt reversal of its decades long held views. The Salt Lake Tribune reported that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints battled any effort to legalize same-sex marriage as a threat to society, one that ultimately could destroy families.

This week, however, the Utah-based faith issued a stunning statement, supporting a proposed federal law that would codify same-sex marriage, the Tribune reported.

In its news release, the church reiterated its doctrine that marriage is between a man and a woman but embraced the Respect for Marriage Act, which includes “appropriate religious freedom protections while respecting the law and preserving the rights of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters.”

Editor’s Note: Alfred Charles Kinsey was an American sexologist, biologist, and professor of entomology and zoology who, in 1947, founded the Institute for Sex Research at Indiana University, now known as the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction.

Continue Reading

News Analysis

Fox host says no link between Club Q shooting & hate speech

Carlson pushes back on those who called out the link between anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and anti-LGBTQ violence like Saturday’s attack in Club Q

Published

on

Tucker Carlson in Budapest. (Screenshot/Fox News)

WASHINGTON – Shortly after five people were murdered and dozens injured over the weekend when a gunman opened fire in a Colorado Springs LGBTQ nightclub, Fox News host Tucker Carlson defended his and his allies escalating use of incendiary anti-LGBTQ rhetoric.

During his show on Monday night, Carlson inveighed against individuals and groups that responded to the tragedy by pointing out the link between acts of violence motivated by hate and the spread of inflammatory lies about LGBTQ people, often by public figures on the right.

“These horrifying murders in Colorado over the weekend quickly became a pretext for yet more censorship of your speech,” Carlson said. “You are responsible for this, they told you, because you said the wrong thing.”

Carlson then accused the groups and individuals that he said were calling for “censorship” — in this case, the LGBTQ community and its allies — of engaging in, perpetuating, or suborning the “genital mutilation” and sexual abuse and exploitation of children.

“This is exactly the kind of false and inflammatory rhetoric that willfully misinforms the public and encourages violence,” responded GLAAD, a nonprofit that fights the spread of defamatory anti-LGBTQ rhetoric in media and entertainment.

Carlson’s statements during the segment were irresponsible, absurd, and cruel, containing lies that are pathetic, dangerous, and a threat to public safety, GLAAD said, in a statement shared with the Washington Blade. “This program, hosts and pandering guests are part of the problem and they just don’t care,” the group added. “Viewers and Fox News should.”

The expectation should be that in the aftermath of a tragedy like the shooting at Colorado Springs’ Club Q, media figures would focus on the actual victims and the local communities that were impacted rather than doubling down on dangerous misinformation and hate as Carlson did, Media Matters LGBTQ Program Director Ari Drennen told the Blade by phone on Tuesday.

Media Matters, which tracks and monitors extremism and hate spread by right-wing news outlets and on social media, has documented Carlson’s extensive history of propagating malicious lies about LGBTQ people while simultaneously casting himself, his viewers, and his supporters as the truly aggrieved; or the “real” victims.

After his show aired on Monday night, other critics were quick to point out Carlson’s history of attacking the LGBTQ community and its allies on his program, which is also chronicled in GLAAD’s Accountability Project.

Drennen said another manipulative tactic on display during Monday’s segment was Carlson’s seamless transitioning between and among different unrelated topics. The host began by denouncing the violence encountered by patrons on Saturday at the LGBTQ nightclub before switching to the medical interventions administered to trans youth and then addressing matters concerning child sexual exploitation and abuse.

The intended effect of this sleight of hand was to make these topics seem related, when of course they are not, Drennen said. Thus, Carlson has laid the groundwork to defend his and his ideological allies’ attacks on LGBTQ people, having framed them as active participants in or complicit observers of crimes against children.

GLAAD and Media Matters dispel the dangerous anti-LGBTQ lies from Carlson’s show

While Carlson did take the opportunity to go after President Joe Biden during the 15-minute segment about Saturday’s shooting, he spent significantly less time on his argument that the president had opportunistically exploited the tragedy to call for a renewal of the federal assault weapons ban.

Instead, Carlson sought to deny the link between anti-LGBTQ language and anti-LGBTQ violence before doubling down on some of his most virulent lies and attacks against the community.

On Sunday, GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis responded to the Colorado Springs shooting with a statement on the well established relationship between acts of violence and inflammatory rhetoric. On his program the following day, Carlson said that Ellis had “declared that because of Saturday’s shooting, you need to shut up while activist doctors mutilate children.” 

Also in Carlson’s crosshairs was Boston Children’s Hospital, which the host accused of “performing double mastectomies on children for no medical reason at all,” adding, “There is no scientific justification for sexually mutilating kids. They are not doing it for a scientifically defensible reason.”

As GLAAD noted in its statement Tuesday to the Blade, in reality, health interventions for trans minors as performed in U.S. hospitals follow the guidance of every mainstream American and overseas biomedical organization with relevant clinical knowledge and experience, including the Endocrine Society, the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Recommendations governing care for trans youth that are provided by these groups are backed by rigorous research. For example, the Endocrine Society’s Clinical Practice Guidelines for Gender Dysphoria/Gender Incongruence contain more than 260 scientific studies.

None of the healthcare practitioners engaged in this evidence based care share “the grotesque fixation on children’s body parts this [Carlson’s] program continues to obsess over,” GLAAD told the Blade.

“But it’s not just the sexual mutilation of children in hospitals,” Carlson said during the segment. “This is part of a larger trend and the trend is this: adults crossing the line, and it has always been a bright line into deep involvement with the sexuality of children. 

The lone example Carlson cited as evidence was a controversial ad from Balenciaga that ran on Instagram and was subsequently removed. Drennen told the Blade that the media personality’s aim was to perpetuate the idea that “the sexualization of children” is “part of a broader cultural force” despite the absence of any connection between LGBTQ people and the sexual abuse and exploitation of children.

“It can be true that the ad is in poor taste,” Drennen said, but the onus isn’t on queer people to police the luxury French fashion house’s “weird ad buy.” Nevertheless, she added, Carlson “wanted the take-away from viewers to be that something sinister is going on,” ergo his inclusion of the topic in a segment about a facially unrelated matter: the massacre of LGBTQ people in a nightclub.

GLAAD’s email to the Blade also noted that “experts in child abuse say smearing people with “groomer” rhetoric undermines the understanding of how predators abuse children.” When the lie that LGBTQ people are likelier to abuse minors is circulated online, apart from the impact of that rhetoric on the LGBTQ community, it makes helping survivors more difficult, advocates say.

“It feels like child sex abuse prevention is being hijacked by people to fit an agenda that has absolutely nothing to do with preventing child sexual abuse,” Jenny Coleman, director of Stop It Now!, a nonprofit working to stop the sexual abuse of children, told USA Today.

Following the tragedy over the weekend, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) pointed out that “Nearly 1 in 5 of any type of hate crime is now motivated by anti-LGBTQ+ bias and reports of violence and intimidation against LGBTQ+ people have been making news across the country.”

America’s largest LGBTQ organization cited, as examples, incidents in which, “White nationalists targeted a Pride event in Idaho; Proud Boys crashed Drag Queen story hour at a local library in California to shout homophobic and transphobic slurs; and Boston Children’s Hospital’s patients and providers have found themselves the targets of multiple violent threats following a campaign of disinformation on Twitter.”

According to the FBI, there have been dozens of bomb threats against Boston Children’s, which has been targeted with “a sustained harassment campaign based on dissemination of information online” about health treatments for trans minors, Rachael Rollins, the U.S. attorney for Massachusetts, said.

All-ages LGBTQ events like family-friendly drag shows and drag queen story hours have also increasingly suffered campaigns of violent intimidation and harassment by far-right extremists, who are driven by online misinformation and disinformation accusing those involved in such events of sexualizing and “grooming” children.

Far-right YouTuber and former video journalist for Vice and Fusion TV, Tim Pool, implied the massacre at Club Q was justified or at least that it can be explained because the nightclub had an all-ages drag show planned for the following day.

“We shouldn’t tolerate pedophiles grooming kids,” he wrote on Twitter, where he is followed by more than a million users. “Club Q had a grooming event. How do [sic] prevent the violence and stop the grooming?”

The evidence is not just anecdotal. According to the Brookings Institution, a social science research think tank, “A range of research suggests the incendiary rhetoric of political leaders can make political violence more likely, gives violence direction, complicates the law enforcement response, and increases fear in vulnerable communities.”

In the same statement addressing the Club Q attack, HRC explained the rise of hate and hate-motivated violence against LGBTQ people. “The highest known single-year total of fatal deaths of transgender and gender non-conforming people was in 2021, when at least 57 trans & gender non-conforming people were violently killed,” the group wrote.

Clip from Nov. 21 episode of Tucker Carlson Tonight

Continue Reading

News Analysis

The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh: “Trans people don’t exist”

“The answer is no. No one is beyond it because we’re human beings and there are two options, male and female, and nobody exists beyond that.”

Published

on

Graphic by Andrea Austria for Media Matters

By Staff, Media Matters for America | WASHINGTON – Transphobic Daily Wire Pundit Matt Walsh on his show Wednesday attacked transgender people saying: “Transgender, trans – it means beyond gender. You’re beyond it or something. You’re something past it, beyond it. Is it possible to be that? The answer is no. No one is beyond it because we’re human beings and there are two options, male and female, and nobody exists beyond that.”

Watch:

Transcript:

MATT WALSH (HOST): We all agree that there are people in the country who identify themselves as trans. So those people certainly exist. There are people who are walking around and saying, I am transgender. Yes, we all agree. That’s not a figment of our imagination, we’re not hallucinating it. We all agree that’s the case, that those people exist.

However, the question is whether the claim that they’re making about themselves is true. And then the second question is related to the first: Is it actually possible for a person to be transgender? Is that a valid, a legitimate, a coherent kind of human identity? Transgender, trans – it means beyond gender. You’re beyond it or something. You’re something past it, beyond it. Is it possible to be that? The answer is no. No one is beyond it because we’re human beings and there are two options, male and female, and nobody exists beyond that.

So, in that sense – if that’s the sense that you mean, that in that sense trans people don’t exist in the sense that there are no people who actually exist beyond the gender binary because the gender binary’s real and we all are in it, on one side or the other. And yet, the people who are confused about this, yes, they certainly do exist. If they didn’t, then we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

********************************

The preceding article was previously published by Media Matters for America and is republished by permission.

Continue Reading

News Analysis

Midterm results show voters’ repudiation of attacks on trans youth

Transphobia – especially directed at young people – proved not to be a winning message for Republican candidates in this election cycle

Published

on

Trans Flag painted by activists on Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood May 14, 2020 (Screenshot/YouTube)

WASHINGTON – The results of this year’s midterm elections showed a tendency among American voters to rebuke extremism from the right, whether it took the form of denying the results of democratic elections or denying women’s reproductive freedoms.

For the LGBTQ community and its allies, it was also a repudiation of attacks from some far-right GOP candidates on trans people, particularly trans youth.

Virginia would not have reelected Democratic Reps. Jennifer Wexton and Abigail Spanberger “if transphobic attacks that are geared towards and about kids were an effective message and an effective persuasion message,” Virginia Delegate Danica Roem told the Washington Blade on Tuesday.

Transphobic campaigns led by the congresswomen’s Republican challengers cost them Virginia’s Prince William County, said Roem, who would become the second openly trans state senator in the country if she is elected in next year’s race to represent Virginia’s 30th Senate District.

Republicans in the state went as far as to weaponize a sexual assault case to attack trans students – by lying about the gender identity of the perpetrator, Roem said.

Last year, the mother of a boy who was charged with sexually assaulting a girl in a Loudoun County high school told multiple media outlets; “First of all, he is not transgender…And I think this is all doing an extreme disservice to those students who actually identify as transgender.”

It is not just in the DC-Maryland-Virginia (DMV) region that voters rejected transphobic attacks during this election cycle, Roem said. GOP candidates tried this approach in Michigan and Wisconsin, leading to the reelection of Democratic Governors Tony Evers, (WI) and Gretchen Whitmer, (MI) who will enjoy the state’s first Democratic trifecta in 40 years, Roem said.

“Across the country anti-equality opponents tried to win close races by persuading swing voters that trans kids were a danger – group of people that needed to be bullied and attacked,” said Geoff Wetrosky, campaign director for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), America’s largest LGBTQ organization.

“And it failed for them as a strategy, in places from Michigan to Kansas, where close races ended up going to the pro-equality candidates not despite these attacks but because of them,” Wetrosky told the Blade via Zoom.

“Voters did not appreciate candidates singling out trans kids and speaking propaganda and stigma to rile up extreme members of their base,” he added.

Wetrosky recounted how parents in Arizona had received an anti-trans mailer that was disseminated by former Trump administration official Stephen Miller’s organization America First Legal and reacted by “showing up to the polls for their trans kid but also to show that communities of color could not be split from LGBTQ folks.”

It would be inaccurate to say that Republican gubernatorial candidates like Florida’s Ron DeSantis or South Dakota’s Governor Kristi Noem were reelected because of their open hostility toward trans youth, Wetrosky contends, because we saw that strategy backfire elsewhere.

In terms of attacking trans candidates running for elected office over their gender identities, “the right still tries to use these tactics but it’s harder and harder to manufacture a boogeyman,” LGBTQ Victory Fund and LGBTQ Victory Institute President & CEO Annise Parker told the Blade by phone on Tuesday.

Parker agreed with Wetrosky’s position that much of the transphobia seen from Republican officeholders is meant to appeal to the most extreme elements of the base of the party, for the purpose of raising the profiles of those with national political ambitions.

Continue Reading

News Analysis

Spotify’s Joe Rogan claims being trans is a “cult-like” mental illness

Walsh asserted that all trans people’s gender identities are invalid and Rogan claimed that being trans is a “mental condition”

Published

on

Joe Rogan (Screenshot/YouTube)

By Alex Paterson & Alyssa Tirrell | WASHINGTON – Spotify podcast host Joe Rogan and anti-trans pundit Matt Walsh spread extreme misinformation about trans people on the November 7 edition of The Joe Rogan Experience, with Rogan falsely claiming that being trans is a “mental health issue,” “a weird kink,” and a “cult-like mentality.” Rogan’s bigoted rhetoric appears to violate Spotify’s platform rules, which prohibit “dehumanizing statements about a person or group” based on gender identity.

Walsh is a Daily Wire pundit who has committed himself to an anti-trans crusade. He recently claimed to be “building a nationwide organized movement” to target hospitals and medical providers after helping to drive harassment against Boston Children’s Hospital. Walsh continued to target the hospital after it reported threats against doctors and staff, and the facility later received more than one bomb threat.

Rogan has faced widespread backlash for using his Spotify podcast to spread bigotrymedical misinformation, and right-wing falsehoods. Anti-trans hate is also a central pillar of Rogan’s show. He has promoted the online hoax that students are using litter boxes in school restrooms — later admitting that “it doesn’t seem like there was any proof” of his bogus story — and repeatedly suggested that social acceptance of trans people is a sign of “civilizations collapsing.” But Spotify has determined that its platform rules do not prohibit the hate and misinformation spread on The Joe Rogan Experience.

Walsh and Rogan’s anti-trans fearmongering is in direct contrast to research showing that many trans people are aware of their gender identities at a young age. The American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, and other major medical organizations overwhelmingly support access to gender-affirming care, which studies show dramatically reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression for people who experience gender dysphoria.

Walsh asserted that all trans people’s gender identities are invalid and Rogan claimed that being trans is a “mental condition” that opens “the door to all this chaos”

Throughout the interview, Rogan and Walsh spread extreme rhetoric about trans people. The two misgendered, deadnamed, or attacked several trans people, including Fox News contributor Caitlyn Jenner, TikTok star Dylan Mulvaney, MMA fighter Fallon Fox, the daughter of retired NBA player Dwayne Wade, gynecologist and surgeon Dr. Marci Bowers, and U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health Adm. Rachel Levine.    

At the beginning of the interview, Walsh claimed that trans people can be broken down into categories “by age” and then proceeded to deny the validity of each category. He falsely claimed that “very young children” cannot be trans “because no child even knows what that is, so you have to suggest that to them.” Walsh also claimed that the gender identity of trans adults “is a fetish” and pushed the anti-trans social contagion myth, which has been widely propagated by anti-trans author and former Rogan guest Abigail Shrier.

Rogan agreed with Walsh’s comments and added that being trans has “always been a psychological condition. It’s always been known as being like a psychiatric condition, like it’s a mental health issue.” He also claimed that by accepting trans people, “we’re opening the door to all this chaos.”

The claim that being trans is itself a mental health issue or an expression of self-harm is part of a broader right-wing effort to falsely frame gender- affirming care as enabling and damaging rather than lifesaving. This trend has gained traction in recent months from right-wing media, including on Walsh’s own show.

From the November 7, 2022, edition of Spotify’s The Joe Rogan Experience

MATT WALSH (DAILY WIRE PUNDIT): So in general, like there are different categories of people who transition. And we kind of talk about them like they’re all the same, but they’re not. And you can kind of break it down by age, like there’s the very young children — a five-year-old. And we hear that, “Oh, my five-year-old is trans.” That’s 1,000% the parent just deciding they’re going to do that because no child even knows what that is, so you have to suggest that to them. Then you have the adolescent girls. And, you know, Abigail Shrier has written about this in her great book. And that’s the social contagion. They pick it up from society. But then there’s the older men who are adults and decide one day that they’re women. And for so many of them, this is a fetish. I mean, this is like the thing we’re not allowed to say or acknowledge. But it’s totally true that for most of these older men who decide that I’m a woman, it’s a fetish. It’s autogynephilia. 

JOE ROGAN (HOST): Yes. 

WALSH: They’re enchanted by the idea of themselves as women. And so now, now we have to participate in your fetish? Like you, you get off on the idea of being seen as a woman, and I have to be a participant in that? It’s really degrading to all of us, you know, that we’re all being forced into this.

ROGAN: Well, it’s always been a psychological condition. It’s always been known as being like a psychiatric condition, like it’s a mental health issue. 

WALSH: Right.

ROGAN: And now it’s being accepted as a gender identity issue, where it was always just like a weird kink that people had. And now you’re — again, regardless whether or not this person’s a sex offender, registered sex offender, repeated sex offender, you have to accept this. Otherwise you’re a bigot. It’s just this rigid adherence to ideology is so cult-like. It’s so fucking Handmaid’s Tale. It’s so wild that people are just wholesale adopting this. And this is not to deny that there’s people that are trans. I’ve met people that are trans. It exists in nature. I mean, occasionally guys will shoot a buck and they’ll find out that it’s actually a female with antlers. Nature’s weird, right? I think nature does put people, make humans, for whatever reason, that really feel like they should have been born a female or should have been born a male. But that’s not all of what’s happening. And in our desire to be compassionate and to have care for these people and to love these people and respect these people, we’re opening the door to all this chaos.

Rogan and Walsh equated being transgender to having anorexia and a “cult-like mentality”  

Walsh compared being trans to being mentally ill, specifically having anorexia, saying, “If a young woman goes to the doctor and she’s 90 pounds and she says, ‘I feel like I’m a 300-pound, you know, fat ass,’ the doctors are not going to affirm that.” 

Rogan agreed with Walsh’ assessment and then added that being trans is a “cult-like mentality.”

Responding to Rogan’s claim that gender identity is an “ideology” that doesn’t “fit with logic or reality,” Walsh suggested that trans people are part of a conspiracy to attack “truth” and “the reality of the self.” “Once you do that, if you’re successful on a societal level, then it’s sort of like the sky’s limit,” the Daily Wire host said.

From the November 7, 2022, edition of Spotify’s The Joe Rogan Experience

MATT WALSH (DAILY WIRE PUNDIT): But self-perception is not always reality. In most other contexts, we recognize that a person can have a self-perception that just is not true, is just inaccurate. I mean, you could walk down the street in any city and find drug-addled homeless people talking to themselves. And if you were to ask them about themselves, you’re going to find they’re going to say a lot of things that just don’t line up with reality. And in every other context, we’re allowed to acknowledge that, even in medical context. I mean, someone who has body dysmorphia in the form of anorexia, you know, a young woman goes to the doctors and she’s 90 pounds and she says, “I feel like I’m a 300-pound, you know, fat ass.” 

JOE ROGAN: Yeah. 

WALSH: The doctors are not going to affirm that and say, “Well, if that’s how you feel, fatness is on a spectrum.” I mean, they’re not going to give her diet pills, they’re going to —

ROGAN: But why gender? Like, why is gender this ideological battleground? Like, how the fuck did that become this thing where it’s encouraging like this cult-like mentality where you can, even when things are clearly odd, think clearly, clearly, don’t make any sense, they don’t fit with logic or reality, you have to adhere to whatever this ideology is, promoting?

WALSH: I think it’s — I mean, at a most basic level, I think that this is, like I said, an attack on truth. And this is, you know, if you want to, if your project is kind of, is relativism and you want to get rid of the objective ideas of truth, what are you going to go after? I mean, if you can go after someone’s really fundamental understanding of themselves, it’s not just that they’re attacking reality, it’s like they’re attacking the reality of the self. And so they’re depriving a person of the ability to understand their own — themselves. And once you do that, if you’re successful on a societal level, then it’s sort of like the sky’s limit, you can go anywhere from there.

Walsh spread false claims about the number of trans youth who have received gender-affirming health care 

Walsh also fearmongered about the number of trans youth who have accessed gender-affirming health care, claiming that “millions” of young people have received hormone blockers. 

Walsh is likely vastly overstating this number. According to a Reuters report, “At least 14,726 minors started hormone treatment with a prior gender dysphoria diagnosis from 2017 through 2021,” and less than 5,000 began taking puberty blockers during that time.

Shortly after Walsh made this claim, Rogan’s podcast producer Jamie Vernon fact-checked it and displayed a page that showed that less than 1,000 trans youth receive puberty blockers in a year. Walsh denied the report, saying, “You know, who are you going to trust when they’re telling you the numbers?“  

From the November 7, 2022, edition of Spotify’s The Joe Rogan Experience

JOE ROGAN (HOST): How many people have had this done? 

MATT WALSH (DAILY WIRE PUNDIT): Depends on what? I don’t think we have exact numbers, but if we’re talking about the drugs it’s, I mean, millions.  

ROGAN: Do you — talking about human hormone blockers? 

WALSH: Yeah.

ROGAN: Millions of kids have been on hormone blockers. Really?

WALSH: I’m sure someone is going to fact-check me on that. But my guess is that we’re into the millions now at this point. Yeah, that would be my guess. I can say for double mastectomy is the most — I read a report recently that there were over a thousand done between 2016 and 2019. And when you compare that to how many were done between, you know, 2008 and 2015, it’s just, it’s a massive increase. And over a thousand girls had double mastectomy — gender-affirming double mastectomies in that time frame. But that’s — 

ROGAN: When you see girls, you’re talking about prepubescent?

WALSH: Right. Minors. And that’s just up until 2019. And then we know that there’s been this exponential increase with all this stuff year-over-year. So it’s a lot. It’s too many. You know, one — having this happen to one kid is way too many. It’s a lot more than one.  

ROGAN: Yeah. Look, if you’re an adult and you want to do that and you understand who you are and what you are and this is how you feel you should progress. You’re an adult. This is a free country. You should be able to do whatever you want. But when you’re talking about doing that to children, the fact that so many people are on board and so many people are angry if you — like, people are going to be angry at us that we’re having these conversations. 

WALSH: Yeah, they will be. And I also — I actually think that this shouldn’t be happening to —

JAMIE VERNON (PRODUCER): It’s a very small number, if that’s right. 

ROGAN: It says over the last five years, there were at least 4,780 adolescents who started puberty blockers and had a prior gender dysphoria diagnosis. 

VERNON: Yeah, it says it’s kind of undercounted but that’s —

ROGAN: That would be a big undercount

VERNON: Less than 1,000 people a year. 

ROGAN: Yeah. 

WALSH: Yeah. I mean, I would guess, you know, hundreds of thousands at this point, but I could be wrong.

ROGAN: A million sounds great. 

WALSH: Yeah, I could be wrong. Yeah. Media Matters will have fun with that clip. “Matt Walsh claims it does — ” But part of the problem though is that we don’t – It’s very hard to get numbers on any of this stuff and, you know, who are you going to trust when they’re telling you the numbers? So that’s why that’s one of the issues with all of this. 

*******************************

The preceding article was previously published by Media Matter for America and is republished by permission.

Continue Reading

News Analysis

Daily Wire piece smears Arizona gubernatorial candidate’s husband

Republican Kari Lake, tweeted The Daily Wire’s story & called his work providing therapy to Trans patients with a history of trauma “horrific”

Published

on

Democratic Arizona gubernatorial nominee Katie Hobbs (Screenshot/YouTube FOX News Phoenix)

By Sophie Lawton | WASHINGTON – Far-right website The Daily Wire published a story on November 3 attacking Democratic Arizona gubernatorial nominee Katie Hobbs’ husband, Patrick Goodman, for reportedly treating a transgender patient at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Goodman is a mental health therapist specializing in youth trauma therapy, according to the hospital’s website. 

The Daily Wire piece claims Goodman’s name is “listed on an undated document as a provider in the hospital’s ‘gender support program’ serving ‘gender diverse’ and transgender youth.” It also identifies Goodman as a therapist to one of several trans children whose families sued the state of Arizona for not allowing changes to their birth certificates. (Litigation in the case is still ongoing.) The article admonished Goodman for his work and smeared Hobbs for supporting “sex change surgeries for minors” during her campaign for Arizona governor.  

Phoenix Children’s Hospital has previously been targeted by right-wing media, including The Daily Wire, for offering lifesaving gender-affirming care to trans patients. The Phoenix hospital also came under fire from The Daily Wire for supposedly removing references to the team and resources for the Gender Support Program from its website. The hospital’s gender-affirming care programs were also targeted by the anti-LGBTQ account “Libs of TikTok” run by Chaya Raichik, who joined The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh and other far-right influencers in directing a campaign against children’s hospitals across the country. 

Following the story’s release, other right-wing media figures began to share the smears as an attack against Hobbs’ campaign. Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk tweeted about Goodman’s work and claimed, “The Hobbs Family is profiting off of the brain washing of Arizona’s children. Wow.” 

In his thread on Goodman, Kirk also linked to Phoenix Children’s Hospital’s gender support program.

Studies show that young trans people without familial and professional support are more likely to deal with anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts; with proper affirmative care, trans youth are less likely to experience mental health issues. 

Hobbs’ Republican opponent, conspiracy theorist Kari Lake, tweeted The Daily Wire’s story and called Goodman’s work providing therapy to patients with a history of trauma “horrific.” She also claimed Hobbs “is an avid supporter of gender reassignment surgery on children in Arizona.” During a campaign rally on Friday, Lake claimed that Hobbs supports trans youth so her husband could make money by “brainwashing our children” and said that her husband’s work was “sick” and “twisted.”

From a November 4, 2022, Gateway Pundit video uploaded to Rumble

In reality, gender-affirming treatment is widely accepted and recommended by national medical, mental health and education organizations as safe, effective, and lifesaving care for trans and non-binary people.

The Daily Wire story was promoted by various right-wing actors, including Turning Point USA’s Drew Hernandez (who recently heckled former President Barack Obama during a rally for Hobbs), former Trump campaign attorney Jenna Ellis, and Fox News contributor Charlie Hurt

The story quickly spread onto other right-wing blogs as well, including The Post Millennial and The Gateway Pundit. The Post Millennial previously attacked Phoenix Children’s Hospital for its gender-affirming care.

*********************

The preceding article was previously published by Media Matters for America and is republished by permission.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Advertisement

Follow Us @LosAngelesBlade

Advertisement

Popular