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Actor and comedian John Cleese, known for Monty Python, is facing backlash over a series of inflammatory anti-trans tweets.
Cleese, 81, reiterated his support for author J.K. Rowling, who has faced criticism for comments and tweets viewed as anti-transgender, or sharing anti-transgender ideas, and responded to one Twitter user by saying he identifies as a “Cambodian police woman.”
After someone asked Cleese to be “upfront and tell us your thoughts on JKR’s position on trans folk,” Cleese responded by saying, “I’m afraid I’m not that interested in trans folks.”
“I just hope they’re happy and that people treat them kindly,” he continued. “Right now I’m more focussed on threats to democracy in America, the rampant corruption in the UK, the appalling British Press, the revelations about police brutality…Covid19, the incompetence of the British government, China’s complete disregard for the necessity to abandon fossil fuels, the developments in France between Macron and Islamicists, diabetes, and the recent deaths of several of my close friends. Does than sound hard-hearted?”
Later, he replied to someone who asked why he couldn’t “just let people be who they want to be.”
“Deep down, I want to be a Cambodian police woman,” he wrote. “Is that allowed, or am I being unrealistic?”
Deep down, I want to be a Cambodian police woman
Is that allowed, or am I being unrealistic ? https://t.co/oGPwEWJM9a
— John Cleese (@JohnCleese) November 22, 2020
Transgender activist and author Charlotte Clymer responded to Cleese’s “treat them kindly” tweet.
“Well, John, we are not being treated kindly,” Clymer tweeted. “And I’m not talking about cordiality. I’m talking about discrimination in employment, housing, health care and other areas of living, all of which is exacerbated when public figures speak from ignorance and bigotry on trans rights.”
Queer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness, who is nonbinary, noted that Cleese has made “several transphobic comments” on Twitter.
“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,” Van Ness wrote. “Trans & non binary people aren’t being treated kindly.
“Instead of worrying about American democracy worry about the transphobia gripping the UK,” Van Ness continued. “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.”
Cleese responded to the controversy by making a pun out of “trans.”
“When I tweet about trans-matters, I often ask questions,” he wrote. “They are never answered. Why is this the case? Are the people who hate me stuck on trans-mit?”
He continued: “New question: If people who disagree with you are ‘haters’, does this imply they are ‘haters’ for disagreeing with you?”
When I tweet about trans-matters, I often ask questions
They are never answered
Why is this the case ?
Are the people who hate me stuck on trans-mit ?
New question: If people who disagree with you are 'haters', does this imply they are 'haters' for disagreeing with you
— John Cleese (@JohnCleese) November 24, 2020
In September, Cleese signed a letter of support for Rowling, published in The Sunday Times, after the author was criticized for sharing a lengthy blog post in which she made unsourced claims about gender identity and detransitioning.
Her comments led stars of the Harry Potter film franchise to publicly support trans people, including lead actor Daniel Radcliffe, who published an essay affirming that “transgender women are women.”
Rowling invited further controversy after the latest book in her Cormoran Strike detective series, penned under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, drew criticism for including a male serial killer who dresses as a woman in order to kill his victims.
And in September, the Harry Potter creator tweeted a link to a shop that sells anti-transgender merchandise, including messages such as, “Transwomen are men,” “woman is not a costume,” “sorry about your dick bro,” “f*ck your pronouns,” and “lesbians don’t have penises.”
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