Comedian and political commentator John Oliver dedicated an episode of Last Week Tonight to transgender rights, skewering the way conservatives have latched on to the issue while demonizing transgender youth.
Oliver noted at the moment more people "do seem comfortable coming out as trans and gender nonconforming, which is great," adding that lately "some on the right have truly lost their minds about trans rights, perhaps best encapsulated by their favorite new joke."
He pointed out that Republican-led legislatures around the country have introduced a slew of anti-trans bills "against a backdrop of violence and threats, including attacks and harassment aimed at hospitals providing gender-affirming care to youth.”
But it was perhaps the moment when he compared the attacks on transgender rights to now out-dated perceptions about left-handedness that was his most salient point.
You can hear what he said in the video below.
Transgender Rights II: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)youtu.be
Oliver said in reference to conservative claims too many people are now identifying as trans:
“As for the rapid rise in kids identifying as trans, as the writer Julia Serano has pointed out, when you look at a chart of left-handedness among Americans in the 20th century, you see a massive spike when we stopped forcing kids to write with their right hand, and then a plateau."
"That doesn’t mean everyone became left-handed, or that there was a rapid onset southpaw dysphoria. It means people were free to be who they f**king were.”
In response to right-wing claims forcing children to conform to a strict gender binary determined at birth until they're adults because some kids might change their minds, Oliver added:
“And, to the extent that some young people are just exploring their gender identity, how exactly is that a bad thing? Who the f**k are they hurting?”
“Watching the conversation around this, it is hard not to feel like, to the extent that there is any social contagion here, it is among adults who have whipped themselves into such a frenzy that they can find themselves repeating some humiliating nonsense.”
There was a long history of bias against left-handed people.
Records and photos show children with their left hands tied to their side or to their school desks to force them to use only their right hand for writing and eating. Eventually the child could forced to give the appearance of right-handedness, but their brains were still left hand dominant.
The "spike" in left-handed children when forced conformity to right-handedness ended did evoke alarm and curiosity.
While considered unusual at first, researchers concluded a higher number of people than recognized had always been born left-hand dominant but society would not allow them to identify as left-handed.
Once that societal restriction was removed, left-handed people openly identified as left-handed giving an appearance of an increase.
Oliver's commentary resonated positively with many viewers.
Oliver went on to criticize right-wingers who have made absurd claims about kids being so confused about their gender identies they think they are cats and dogs and are using litter boxes to relieve themselves in schools.
Oliver said those who believe this are "heartbreakingly stupid," pointing out "if kids were using litter boxes in class, a state representative from Minnesota [or a GOP candidate in Maine] would not be the one breaking that news to you."
He added if a child actually used a litter box during first period at school "it would be the only thing anyone in that state was talking about by lunch.”