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(Credit: Ray Burmiston / Netflix Press)

Film

Ricky Gervais criticised for “anti-trans rants” in new Netflix show

Ricky Gervais is the latest addition to the legion of comedians facing criticism for alleged transphobic comments. Following in the footsteps of the controversial comedian Dave Chappelle, Gervais has been called out for alleged “anti-trans” statements made during his latest Netflix comedy special.

Last year, Chappelle faced immense backlash from the trans community following comments made during his Netflix set The Closer, a show which prompted a mass employee walkout at the Californian headquarters of the streaming giant.

Gervais’ latest comedy special, SuperNature, began streaming on Netflix on Tuesday and has already attracted negative attention from viewers, with an LGBTQ advocacy group calling out the British comic for his “anti-trans rants”. 

During the comedy special, Gervais joked about “old-fashioned women” who are “the ones with wombs”. The comedian then shares a hypothetical conversation with such a woman who is opposed to sharing a restroom with a transwoman. 

Gervais says: “They are ladies. Look at their pronouns. What about this person isn’t a lady?”

He quips: “Well, his penis”.

The Emmy-winning comedian has insisted that the special doesn’t reflect his trans and LGBTQ rights views. In the hour-long show, he said that his remarks constitute equal-opportunity humour. However, the trans communities and their allies, along with GLAAD, responded to the special, calling out Gervais for his insensitivity and asserting his comments to be a direct violation of Netflix’s policy to contain and exterminate content that can lead to violence or hatred. 

In a statement, the group said: “It’s [Gervais’ special] full of graphic, dangerous, anti-trans rants masquerading as jokes, along with anti-gay rhetoric and inaccurate statements on HIV.”

GLAAD released a statement detailing how they will be holding “so-called comedians who spew hate in place of humour, and the media companies who give them a platform” accountable for their actions. 

In the special, The Office creator also discusses difficult themes such as the Holocaust, later defending his routine by denying that “a joke is a window into a comedian’s true soul” by saying: “That’s just not the case. I’ll take on any view to make the joke funny. I’ll pretend to be right-wing. I’ll pretend to be left-wing. Full disclosure: of course, I support trans rights. I support all human rights. And trans rights are human rights.”

Gervais concluded: “Live your best life, use your preferred pronouns, be the gender that you feel that you are.”

As of yet, neither Netflix nor Gervais has responded to the current backlash. SuperNature is now streaming on Netflix.