Ricky Gervais's Netflix special draws criticism for 'graphic, dangerous' transphobic jokes

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Ricky Gervais seems to be taking a note from Dave Chappelle's book.

The comedian's latest Netflix comedy special, SuperNature, is drawing criticism from LGBTQ activists who say the comedian is punching down on the transgender community. This, after last year's debacle over Chappelle's anti-trans jokes on his special, The Closer, that created a slew of problems for the streaming giant — including an employee-staged walkout.

Ricky Gervais in the press room after winning the Comedy award for After Life at the National Television Awards 2021 held at the O2 Arena, London. Picture date: Thursday September 9, 2021. (Photo by Ian West/PA Images via Getty Images)
Ricky Gervais is getting harsh criticism from LGBTQ activists who say his latest special is transphpobic. (Photo by Ian West/PA Images via Getty Images) (Ian West - PA Images via Getty Images)

Criticism isn't new to Gervais. In fact, he was fully expecting it this time around. Last week, the comedian was a guest on SiriusXM’s Jim Norton & Sam Roberts show, where he opened up about the potential backlash the special might bring.

“To me, there’s nothing controversial in that because it’s just jokes,” Gervais said of the transphobic jokes at the time. “I even explain what ‘irony’ is at the beginning of the f****** show, and everyone there, I don’t know how many people I played to — half a million people — no complaints. They laughed at all the things, right?"

"Everyone’s gonna complain about everything in it. Every single line, someone is going to complain, either because they hate it, they don’t get it, it’s coming after," he continued. "Here’s the thing about comedy. I can list 20 taboo subjects. Everyone in the world laughs at 19 of them, and hates the one that affects them.”

In SuperNature, Gervais made jokes about the trans community within the first five minutes.

“Oh, women!” the comedian said at the beginning of the special. “Not all women, I mean the old-fashioned ones. The old-fashioned women, the ones with wombs.”

“I love the new women,” he continued. “They’re great, aren’t they? The new ones we’ve been seeing lately. The ones with beards and c***. They’re as good as gold, I love them. And now the old-fashioned ones say, ‘Oh, they want to use our toilets.’ ‘Why shouldn’t they use your toilets?’ ‘For ladies!’ ‘They are ladies — look at their pronouns! What about this person isn’t a lady?’ ‘Well, his penis.’ ‘Her penis, you f****** bigot!’ ‘What if he rapes me?’ ‘What if she rapes you, you f****** TERF whore?’”

“TERF,”,or Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist, has been used to describe a feminist who believes that biological sex determines gender, which contradicts the argument trans and nonbinary activists have made in recent years to affirm their existence — that gender identity is more complex and nuanced than one’s biological sex.

The comedian, whose second Netflix comedy special Armageddon is set to release later this year, also poked fun at trans people later in the special when discussing Kevin Hart removing himself from hosting the Oscars in 2018 after a series of past homophobic tweets resurfaced.

“You can’t predict what will be offensive in the future,” Gervais said of Hart’s backlash from queer activists. “You don’t know who the dominant mob will be. Like, the worst thing you can say today, get you canceled on Twitter, death threats, the worst thing you can say today is, ‘Women don’t have penises,’ right? Now, no one saw that coming. You won’t find a 10-year-old tweet saying ‘Women don’t have penises.’ You know why? We didn’t think we f****** had to!”

While pretending to struggle in finding names of female comedians, Gervais called out trans comedian and actress Eddie Izzard, who uses she/her pronouns, which received laughs from the audience.

“She’s brilliant, isn’t she?” he said. “She’s not only a great comedienne, she’s also a great actress, isn’t she? She was brilliant in that thing as that man.” He also wondered what life would be if he were a teenager in today’s “woke times,” during which he said he would “self-ID” as trans because it would be “trendy.”

“I’d have a big fanny,” he said. “I’d be a real woman... I’d be a little lesbian fella called Vicky Gervais... I’d probably be a butch lesbian ’cause of all the testosterone till then.”

Gervais circled back towards the end of the special, saying, “Full disclosure: In real life of course I support trans rights. I support all human rights, and trans rights are human rights. Live your best life. Use your preferred pronouns. Be the gender that you feel you are.

"But meet me halfway, ladies," he added. “Lose the c***. That’s all I’m saying.”

Following the release of the special, many Twitter users aired their grievances over Gervais's remarks. GLAAD, the leading organization advocating for LGBTQ acceptance and visibility across all media, said the standup special is "full of graphic, dangerous, anti-trans rants masquerading as jokes."

The organization further stated that Gervais "spouts anti-gay rhetoric."

"Netflix has a policy that content 'designed to incite hate or violence' is not allowed on their platform, but we all know that anti-LGBTQ content does exactly that," GLAAD wrote on Twitter. "While Netflix is home to some groundbreaking LGBTQ shows, it refuses to enforce its own policy in comedy.

"The LGBTQ community and our allies have made it very clear that so-called comedians who spew hate in place of humor, and the media companies who give them a platform, will be held accountable," the organization added. "Meanwhile, there are PLENTY of funny LGBTQ comedians to support."

Jaclyn More, writer and showrunner of Dear White People, added: "I love how Netflix is so in favor of freedom of speech. That’s why in addition to Chappelle and Gervais, they’ve had so many prominent trans projects come out in this past year… Oh s*** they haven’t? So they really just like one kind of speech on that I guess?"

Another user wrote, "Ricky Gervais knows it's easier to be transphobic than to be funny. Bigot comedy is dead easy to perform, you just confirm the hatred of the audience and then you get to go home. No jokes required."

Others came to the star's defense, like one who tweeted, "Surprise, @RickyGervais' new comedy special is receiving backlash for offending people. Ricky Gervais put it best, 'Just because you're offended, doesn't mean you're right.'"

Blaire White, a trans female YouTuber, also spoke out in support, claiming that the comedian has been instrumental for her success:

"Im a trans guy. just watched supernature — f****** hilarious," one fan wrote. "The 'meet me halfway ladies, lose the c***' had me in stitches 😂 as someone who does cop a lot of that s*** irl your clarification that you believe trans rights are human rights was appreciated. comedic legend 👑."

Comments and criticisms continue to grow on Twitter, as some praise Gervais for being an example of free speech while others call him out for spreading misinformation and potential violence against the trans community: