Jonathan Van Ness Accuses John Cleese of Making Transphobic Comments in His Defense of J.K. Rowling

Queer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness has accused Monty Python member John Cleese of making "transphobic" comments in his defense of Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling. The most recent controversy seems to have began after a Twitter user shared a screenshot of an old tweet by Cleese, wherein he proudly stated that he supports Rowling's stance on trans individuals. After being questioned about it by other users, Cleese replied, "I'm afraid I'm not that interested in trans folks."

He then added, "I just hope they're happy and that people treat them kindly." Cleese then stated that "right now" he is "more focused on threats to democracy in America, the rampant corruption in the UK, the appalling British Press, the revelations about police brutality...Covid19, the incompetence of the British government, China's complete disregard for the necessity to abandon fossil fuels, the developments in France between Macron and Islamicists, diabetes, and the recent deaths of several of my close friends. He concluded his message by saying, "Does than sound hard-hearted?"

It was at this point that Van Ness decided to jump in and offer his take on Cleese's comments. "Dear [John Cleese,] you’ve made several transphobic comments here," You do seem to not only be interested in trans folks, but also adding to transphobia at a time when trans people are being murdered world wide. Trans & non binary people aren’t being treated kindly."

Cleese's defense of Rowling appears to be related to her support of Maya Forstate, a researcher who was fired for being anti-trans. "Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you. Live your best life in peace and security," the author tweeted in April. "But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real?" Rowling then added hashtags for "I Stand With Maya" and "This Is Not A Drill."

Rowling's position caused a major backlash, with many Harry Potter fans slamming the writer for taking such a controversial stance. In response to the situation, Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe spoke out, saying, "Transgender women are women." He added, "Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and goes against all advice given by professional health care associations, who have far more expertise on this subject matter than either Jo or I."