Mario Lopez is backtracking on some controversial comments he made recently about transgender children and gender identity.
While appearing on The Candace Owens show back in June, Owens asked Lopez about this “new weird trend coming out of Hollywood” where celebrities are speaking out about allowing their children to pick their own gender identities. “I know Charlize Theron did this a few weeks ago … saying that their child is picking their gender,” Owens said, referencing Theron’s announcement earlier this year that her 7-year-old adopted child does not identify as the gender she was assigned at birth. Owens based her opinion on her five-year experience of nannying, claiming that kids say the craziest things like they’re a mermaid or Superman. “So I’m trying to understand this new Hollywood mentality where they just think that their children now have the mental authority to pick their gender identity, ” Owens added.
“Look, I’m never one to tell anyone how to parent their kids … and I think if you come from a place of love, you really can’t go wrong,” Lopez responded on the show. “But at the same time, my God, if you’re three years old and you’re saying you’re feeling a certain way, or you think you’re a boy or a girl or whatever the case may be, I just think it’s dangerous as a parent to make that determination then. It’s sort of alarming and, my gosh, I just think about the repercussions later on.”
And then Owens continued talking about sexual orientation as if it was the same as gender identity. “You can’t make a decision about your sexuality when you’re three years old,” Owens said, to which Lopez replied, “You don’t know anything about sexuality yet … You’re just a kid.”
In the interview, the former Saved By the Bell star later referenced the #MeToo movement, saying that the #BelieveWomen hashtag is a “dangerous hashtag because people lie and sometimes those people are women.”
“God forbid you have a son out there and a girl may have felt a certain way about a situation — dismissed, hurt, whatever, and is feeling vengeful and just decides to tell a certain story that’s not even exactly true, come back and hurt that individual,” Lopez said.
The appearance and his comments have since gone viral, and Lopez has faced immense backlash on social media, including from well-known celebrities and LGBTQ allies like Queer Eye‘s Jonathan Van Ness:
If you’re not raising a child who is part of the LGBTQ+ community you should really be quiet. You don’t need to understand what you do not know. You both need to do better, your causal transphobia is par for the course. Christianity says leave judgment to god. @MarioLopezExtra— Jonathan Van Ness (@jvn) July 31, 2019
The persecution that trans & non binary people face bc some small minded people are blindly identified with the gender binary is deadly. Trans & Non binary people face violence, death, homelessness, discrimination because of this constant lack of understanding and need to judge.— Jonathan Van Ness (@jvn) July 31, 2019
As well as Queer Eye‘s Karamo Brown:
I don’t think @MarioLopezExtra should be ‘canceled’. But I do believe he should be given the opportunity to learn why his comments are harmful to trans youth and their parents. Mario, I’m ready to talk when you are.— Karamo Brown (@Karamo) July 31, 2019
One Day at a Time‘s showrunner Gloria Calderon Kellett also took to Twitter to share her thoughts:
Kids should feel free to try things out on their personal journey into figuring out who they are. And for anyone to suggest that loving a child through that is "dangerous" seems ludicrous to me. And makes me sad. Just love your kids. Just love them.— Gloria Calderón Kellett (@everythingloria) July 31, 2019
Lopez has now released a statement walking back his comments about transgender children and gender identity (but not about the #MeToo movement and #believewomen hashtag), saying that he’s learned from this whole experience.
“The comments I made were ignorant and insensitive, and I now have a deeper understanding of how hurtful they were,” Lopez said in a statement sent to EW by his rep. “I have been and always will be an ardent supporter of the LGBTQ community, and I am going to use this opportunity to better educate myself. Moving forward I will be more informed and thoughtful.”
Check out Lopez’s remarks about gender identity at around the 12:00 mark: