A tense exchange on Bill Maher’s Friday show ended with comedian Larry Wilmore delivering a simple message to Breitbart’s Milo Yiannopoulos: “Go fuck yourself.”
The exchange began when Yiannopoulos made some anti-transgender remarks — by misgendering a trans activist, perpetuating a myth that allowing trans women into women’s bathrooms will put women at danger, and arguing that trans people have a mental disorder.
Wilmore responded: “I just think it’s sad, because the same arguments that were used against gay people — treating them like aliens who just wanted to fuck anything that moved and that’s why we should avoid them at all costs — [are] being used [against trans people].”
He went on after Yiannopoulos tried to interrupt him: “Well, let me finish my thought please. No, it’s true. There’s a difference without a distinction, because it’s using the type of arguments. It’s like when people try to compare gay and black. Yeah, they’re not the same thing. We shared invisibility. You know, people didn’t see us in society, and gay people hid in and out from society. But there were a lot of the same issues that you have to deal with when you’re marginalized.”
Wilmore is right, particularly when it comes to bathrooms. Although multiple investigations have found zero evidence of increased incidents of sexual assault or other public safety concerns when trans people are allowed to use the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity, conservatives like Yiannopoulos have continued to push such concerns in opposition to trans rights.
Similarly, fears of these attacks were used in opposition to ending segregation — by invoking fears that black men would attack white women in bathrooms. And fears of gay men in bathrooms were long used to perpetuate the idea that gay men are sexual predators. Of course, once segregation ended, and as LGBTQ people have become more accepted throughout America, none of these concerns have been realized.
Still, Yiannopoulos went on, arguing that trans people are “are disproportionately involved in those kinds of [sex] crimes.”
As the Daily Beast pointed out, Yiannopoulos is right here — just not in the way he meant. It’s not that trans people are disproportionately the perpetrators of sex crimes, but that they’re disproportionately the victims.
The federal Office of Justice Programs notes, “One in two transgender individuals are sexually abused or assaulted at some point in their lives. Some reports estimate that transgender survivors may experience rates of sexual assault up to 66 percent, often coupled with physical assaults or abuse.”
Wilmore then responded to Yiannopoulos: “This is what I said: The same arguments were used against gay people. You should do your homework. Homosexuality was called a ‘disorder.’ It was a ‘psychological disorder.’”
This is true: Until 1973, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders included homosexuality as a disorder.
But the discussion seemed to misunderstand how the current manual includes gender dysphoria. It is not, as Yiannopoulos suggests, that all trans people are “disordered.” Major medical organizations, like the American Medical Association and American Psychiatric Association, say being transgender is not a mental disorder.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, instead, includes a condition that afflicts many, but not all, trans people: “gender dysphoria,” which is a state of emotional distress caused by how someone’s body or the gender they were assigned at birth conflicts with their gender identity, and that can lead to depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation.
But this doesn’t mean that all trans people suffer from dysphoria. Some don’t, and different trans people struggle with different levels of dysphoria. And the proper medical treatment for dysphoria is not, as Yiannopoulos claims, rejecting trans people and their identities. Instead, the American Medical Association and American Psychiatric Association, as well as doctors who focus on gender issues, say that letting trans people transition — and accepting them for who they are — is key to alleviating their gender dysphoria. In fact, discrimination and rejection are major contributors to dysphoria.
Yiannopoulos, however, didn’t seem too interested in Wilmore’s points. As he usually does, he quickly reverted to trolling by the end of the segment — arguing that gay people may be disordered because he, as a gay man, feels “really disordered,” before calling the other guests on Maher’s show stupid.
Wilmore, in the face of this trolling, replied, “You can go fuck yourself.”