Actor Rainn Wilson, famous for his role as Dwight Schrute in the American version of The Office, found himself facing backlash over a transphobic joke he made on Twitter.
The joke and apology set off a series of comments and discussions about inclusive language.
The situation began when Wilson tweeted the "joke."
@rainnwilson / Twitter
“TIL you can no longer say ‘nursing or breastfeeding mother’ you have to say ‘chestfeeding person’. Just FYI”
The implication in Wilson’s tweet is words referring to a woman specifically breastfeeding a baby have been banned in some way.
However, this isn’t true.
And people called out Wilson on that point.
The word “chestfeeding” is not being forced on anyone. Nor are doctors being asked to stop using “nursing” or “breastfeeding mother.”
The controversy around the word “chestfeeding” started with a 2021 article from Britain’s University Hospitals Sussex about inclusive midwifery. The article asks that those who assist transgender patients consider more inclusive language.
Despite specifically saying in the article, “staff are not being asked to stop using any language relating to women,” transphobic reactionaries over the last year have focused on a bit at the end where examples of inclusive language were provided. This included the terms “chestfeeding” as well as “birthing parents” being suggested for use in addition to “breastfeeding” and “mothers.”
Wilson has since been educated and apologized for the “mean crack” he made.
While many commenters said that Wilson shouldn’t have apologized, many more thanked the actor for learning, growing, and admitting when he was wrong.
It’s a small thing someone with such a large audience could do to repair the damage.
It’s refreshing to see someone who makes transphobic jokes change their opinion and apologize. In recent years, when comedians like Dave Chapelle or Ricky Gervais made controversial fame with transphobic jokes in their Netflix specials, they doubled down and refused to learn or change.
So a big thank you to Rainn Wilson for showing the bare minimum someone can do when called out for transphobia.
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