Ricky Gervais has every right to ridicule trans activists

Standing up to orthodoxies is what comedians do best.

Stephen Knight

Topics Identity Politics UK

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Comedy is becoming increasingly humourless and ideologically captured. So it should come as no surprise that the small number of comedians willing to make jokes about the ridiculous nature of trans ideology have become targets of fierce criticism. However, there is something especially pathetic about efforts to police what is acceptable in comedy when it is other comedians doing the policing. It’s like an ambulance being involved in a hit-and-run. It’s just worse.

Two particularly bad offenders are comedians Joe Lycett and Nish Kumar. Both have recently gone after Ricky Gervais, whose stand-up material pokes fun at trans activists. This week, Kumar took aim at Gervais on his podcast, Pod Save the UK, claiming that Gervais wants to ‘target and attack a vulnerable and marginalised community’. Similarly in February, Lycett appeared on The News Agents podcast, where he slammed Gervais for ‘doing material which is attacking trans people’ and ‘minorities’.

These attacks by Lycett and Kumar reveal that they either haven’t watched the material they say is so egregious – or worse, they didn’t understand it.

The routine that Lycett and Kumar are likely gesturing to is a bit from Gervais’s 2022 Netflix special, SuperNature. Far from attacking transgender people, the joke in question takes aim at the deranged disciples of trans ideology and gender self-identification.

The premise of the routine is that a trans activist becomes increasingly irate the more his belief that women can have penises is questioned. When a woman raises concerns about sharing the female toilets with a transwoman, asking ‘What if he rapes me?’, the trans activist becomes furious. ‘What if she rapes you, you fucking TERF whore!’, he screams.

The joke here is obviously that these gender zealots care more about a bloke with a penis being ‘misgendered’ than about the safety of a woman having to share loos with the penis-owning stranger. What Lycett and Kumar fail to understand from inside their ultra-progressive echo chambers is that this scenario isn’t just an invention of one comedian’s imagination. Any woman that has dared to defend their sex-based rights from the encroachment of gender ideology will be able to tell you about the rape and death threats and the risk of cancellation they face. Whenever they try to gather anywhere to protest for their rights, they are met with violent intimidation. In some cases, they have been visited by police.

Just this week, it was reported that the NHS is facing legal action after 26 female nurses complained about being forced to share the women’s changing room with a trans-identified male. One of the nurses in question, who was the victim of sexual abuse as a child, spoke of how ‘petrified’ she was to have this male in her space. Not least as the man repeatedly asked her when she planned on getting changed. The HR manager responded to these concerns by telling the female nurses they must ‘be more inclusive’, ‘broaden their mindset’ and ‘be educated and attend training’.

Worse still, in real life, the female victims of assault by trans-identifying men really have been compelled to recognise the ‘gender identity’ of their attackers. In 2018, a woman was required by a court of law to pretend her male attacker is actually a woman. In 2022, mainstream news outlets, including the BBC, edited the direct testimony of a rape survivor to avoid the unforgivable sin of ‘misgendering’ her rapist.

Just look at the ordeal Roz Adams has faced. Earlier this month, an employment tribunal concluded that she was unlawfully discriminated against and unfairly dismissed from her job at the Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre. Why? Because she believed that the victims of rape – who often understandably find being in close proximity with men traumatic – had the right to know and choose the sex of the staff member providing them with care. The tribunal concluded that management’s treatment of Adams amounted to a ‘heresy hunt’.

Such ‘heresy hunts’ are the backdrop for Gervais’s jokes about trans ideology. And it is the suffocating new reality regular people now find themselves having to navigate on a daily basis. The average person no longer has to contend with the authoritarianism of the church. They are more likely to fall foul of the blasphemy codes and dogmas invented by the new gender puritans in our midst.

Lycett and Kumar want us to believe Gervais has devolved into a chauvinistic, reactionary shock jock. In reality, he has always gone after quasi-religious ideologies that are hostile to science and the right to free expression. The new church of gender ideology is no different. It compels people to believe that men can become women simply by saying so and demands that all who disagree are financially, reputationally and sometimes even legally punished. Surely this gives any conservative, science-denying, crackpot church a run for its money.

Taking aim at trans ideology isn’t a regression for Gervais. It’s a display of consistency. It is just that he is joking about a worldview that the Lycetts and Kumars of this world simply aren’t equipped to think about critically. They imagine themselves as moral guardians of what is permissible in modern comedy. Unfortunately for them, the speed with which Gervais continues to sell out tours and break streaming records tells us that audiences still have the final say of what goes and which jokes land. And it seems that they have had their fill of censorious, virtue-signalling ‘progressives’ who are too toothless to leave the safety net of their right-on establishment views.

Thank God for comedians like Ricky Gervais, who refuse to play it safe. Most of us want a laugh, not a lecture.

Stephen Knight is host of the Godless Spellchecker podcast and the Knight Tube. Follow him on X: @GSpellchecker

Picture by: Getty.

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Topics Identity Politics UK


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