John Oliver gets it. On 28 June he did a piece about transgender rights on his programme, Last Week Tonight, that shows not only does he know what he is talking about but that he is supportive of the community. This is one of the best segments seen on TV in light of recent gains for the trans* community.
He opens the segment with clips showing the various questions trans celebrities are asked about their genitalia and follows it with the very proper answer of: “It’s none of your f**ing business!”
Can you imagine someone asking Katie Couric what her genitals look like? That would likely not go over well yet trans* people get that question constantly. It’s an amasingly insensitive question so one is inclined to ask, “What world are you from where that is OK to ask someone?”
He then goes on to make a very good point about trans* people:
“Transgender people have a gender identity that differs from the one they were assigned at birth. And that gender identity is not the same as sexual orientation. Gender identity is who you are, sexual orientation is who you love. Some transgender people do undergo hormone therapy or sexual reassignment surgery as part of their transition, some do not. And interestingly, their decision on this matter is, medically speaking, none of your f*cking business!”
The segment continues by discussing the continued abuses and indignities suffered by the trans* community, from humiliating treatment by DMV staff and the continued attempts by local and state legislatures to decide where trans* people can use the restroom.
Mr. Oliver presents this piece with a very heady mix of humour and sensitivity to the issues faced by the trans* community.
And it does it all without once asking about genitals. He should be applauded for this.