Jonathan Van Ness sobs during trans rights debate with Dax Shepard: ‘I’m so tired’

Jonathan Van Ness

Jonathan Van Ness bravely defended trans kids’ rights through tears, during an appearance on Dax Shepard’s Armchair Expert podcast that suddenly broke into a debate.

Van Ness, of Netflix’s Queer Eye, joined Shepard on the podcast to promote their own podcast, Getting Curious.

But a pleasant conversation between the two stars quickly descended into a heated and emotional back-and-forth that reduced the TV star to tears and prompted Shepard and his co-host Monica Padman to issue a trigger warning at the beginning of the episode.

It all kicked off when Van Ness, who is trans and non-binary and goes by he/she/they pronouns, questioned Shepard’s stance that The New York Times was a left-leaning paper. 

Ness explained that, as of late, the Times has published what could be considered “anti-trans” content, but Shepard suggested that the newspaper was simply asking questions and “challenging” certain issues, such as minors taking puberty blockers and hormones.

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Jonathan Van Ness got emotional while defending trans kids’ rights. (Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Netflix)

“Some people are very uncomfortable about teenagers transitioning,” Shepard argued.

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“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***ing permanent… To even question it makes you an enemy. I don’t think that’s the way forward.”

Van Ness replied: “I feel like I’m talking to my dad.”

The Queer Eye star tried to explain to Shepard that there was “a good chance” that he was being exposed to “misinformation and disinformation.”

They continued: “And a lot of the rhetoric around the anti-trans backlash does have a lot of misinformation and disinformation in it.”

Even after Van Ness buried Shepard and Padman in a pile of data and information in defence of transgender minors being allowed to transition, participate in sports, and use the bathrooms that match their gender identity, Shepard continued to push back.

Dax Shepard, host of the Armchair Expert Podcast.
Shepard inadvertently sparked a huge debate on trans issues while Van Ness was on the podcast. (Getty Images)

“There is a public targetted onslaught towards queer people,” Van Ness told Shepard, to which Shepard replied: “There are many people targeting queer people and don’t want them to have rights, I agree with you.”

Van Ness then shot back: “So I have to sit here and watch Dax Shepard parrot a lot of the same things?”

Shepard later said that he was “bummed” to be labelled in the “enemy category” because he couldn’t get behind every single point that Van Ness made.

The TV star clarified: “Have whatever beliefs you want, go for it. I’m just saying it is disappointing when you realise the amount of people who think they’re really fighting for something” by excluding trans kids from sports.

Eventually, Van Ness could be heard holding back tears as he stood strong in his argument.

“I’m a nonbinary f***ing trans person. When I talk to my dad or people who say similar things, it’s hard to be cool through that,” they said.

“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.”

Jonathan Van Ness
Jonathan Van Ness held back tears as the debate grew tense. (Getty Images)

Van Ness could be heard getting emotional as he explained that most children who play sports “don’t want to f***ing go to the Olympics”, but just wanted to be included, and it’s heartbreaking when they’re not.

Through tears, they added: “Honestly, I just – I wanted to come and chat about my podcast.”

“We’re gonna do that, we’re gonna do that,” Shephard promised.

The podcast host continued: “I did not intend at all to get into a debate with you about this.

“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.”

Van Ness replied: “I could just cry because I’m so tired of having to fight for little kids because they just want to be included. 

“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.”

Shepard softened and apologised to Van Ness, noting that the fellow podcaster must be “disappointed” in him.

“I’m not disappointed in you I’m just emotionally exhausted,” Van Ness said.

Jonathan Van Ness
Jonathan Van Ness insisted that they weren’t disappointed, just exhausted. (Getty Images)

“If there’s one thing I could leave you with: Little kids are not getting gender reassignment surgery. Three-year-olds are not getting hysterectomies. They’re not getting f***ing breast implants.

“I am scared of the vitriol that trans people face every day.”

“Because we’re scared of people in the Olympics, now kid-marginally-terrible-athletes who just want to learn about communication, team building, how to work together, they don’t get that opportunity… 

“That has social capital impact for the rest of your life. Sports have real-world implications, for people who suck at them too. That’s why I’m crying because those are the kids that are paying the price for this and that is heartbreaking.”

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