Jonathan Van Ness got emotional Monday during an episode of Dax Shepard’s “Armchair Expert” podcast as the pair launched into an unexpected and passionate debate about transgender kids.
The “Queer Eye” star, 36, and the “Employee of the Month” actor, 48, started the nearly two-hour episode with pleasantries and the expectation that Van Ness, who is nonbinary and uses they/he/she pronouns, would discuss their own podcast, “Getting Curious.”
But became tense when Shepard said it was “insane” that President Joe Biden is the country’s “best option.”
Then, the duo clashed over whether The New York Times should be considered a left-leaning newspaper.
Van Ness argued it’s not because of recent articles about gender-affirming care that some readers interpreted as “anti-trans.”
Shepard, however, used conservative talking points, claiming The Times was merely “challenging” and asking “questions” about issues, such as teens taking puberty blockers and hormones.
The Post has contacted reps for Van Ness and Shepard for comment.
“Some people are very uncomfortable about teenagers transitioning,” Shepard said. “How do we know that the person’s not gonna change their mind? Then there’s another counterargument. If they kill themselves, then that’s really f–king permanent. … To even question it makes you an enemy. I don’t think that’s the way forward.”
“I feel like I’m talking to my dad,” Van Ness shot back.
The hairstylist proceeded to shift the conversation to transgender athletes and how they don’t really have the competitive advantages as some people like to think they do.
“There’s just so many things that are so much more important and we’re over here being like, ‘Well, there’s legitimate concerns [about transgender athletes],’” Van Ness said.
“All I’m saying is what we know about misinformation and disinformation is when you have an outsized reaction to something, there’s a good chance that you’re being exposed to misinformation and disinformation. And a lot of the rhetoric around the anti-trans backlash does have a lot of misinformation and disinformation in it.”
Van Ness added that he finds it “disappointing” to realize how many people “think they’re really fighting” for women when they exclude trans kids from sports.
“I’m a nonbinary f–king trans person. When I talk to my dad or people who say similar things, it’s hard to be cool through that,” he said, later telling Shepard and his co-host Monica Padman, “I’m not calling you a transphobe. You can not be transphobic and still have thoughts that espouse trans misogyny and espouse transphobic ideologies or beliefs and not be transphobic.”
Van Ness continued, becoming more emotional, “I just get a lot of little kids who aren’t allowed to, like, join groups,” he said about their LGBTQ+ advocacy work.
“I was really bullied for my gender expression as a little kid. And there’s a lot of little kids who aren’t going to go be Olympic gold medalist. They don’t want to f–king go to the Olympics. They’re not gonna play —90 to 99% of kids who want to play sports aren’t trying to go to the Olympics, right?”
“Honestly, I just — I wanted to come, like, chat about my podcast…” Van Ness attempted to round up the intensifying conversation.
“We’re gonna do that, we’re gonna do that,” Shephard promised.
“I did not intend at all to get into a debate with you about this,” he added, again complementing Van Ness. “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.”
“I could just cry because I’m so tired of having to fight for little kids because they just want to be included,” Van Ness told Shepard through tears. “I wish that people were as passionate about little kids being able to be included or grow up as they were about fictitious women’s fairness in sports. I have to tell you I am very tired.”
Van Ness added, “I’m scared of the vitriol that trans people face everyday.”
Shepard and Padman then apologized to Van Ness and stressed they did not intend to upset the TV personality.
Van Ness claimed he was not upset, but muttered, “It is what it is.”