Ben Johnson


Stephen Colbert ‘nasty’ for skewering Facebook over 56 gender choices: LGBT activist

Ben Johnson

HOLLYWOOD, February 24, 2014 ( – Stephen Colbert's parody performances usually leave liberals laughing and conservatives feeling the sting. But a segment the comedian did on Facebook's decision to introduce more than 50 “gender” options has LGBT activists seeing red.

“The whole thing makes my brain broke,” he told his Comedy Central audience before reading many of the dozens of options to significant laughter.

He singled out the term trans-asterisk – written “Trans *" – a term intended to convey that the person identifies with every gender status. “I believe that's when you're born an asterisk but deep inside you believe you're an ampersand,” Colbert said.

The list ended “other,” he said. “What did I not include in that list, pirate?”

Colbert followed the segment by interviewing Janet Mock, a transgender man who said the list Colbert read on the program did, in fact, leave out certain gender preferences.

“I only have a half-hour show,” Colbert replied.

Mock provoked a nationwide backlash after CNN's Piers Morgan said that he was “born a” male during an otherwise glowing interview. Mock explained to Colbert that he was “assigned male at birth” on the mere basis of biology.

A child should not be classified by binary categories of male or female based on anatomical characteristics, Mock said.

“Should I just call a baby 'it' until it's old enough to file its own taxes?” Colbert asked.

Another moment of apparent dissent came when Mock suggested that an individual baby be referred to by the asexual plural pronouns “they” or “them.” Colbert, a practicing Catholic, replied in apparent earnest that the notion reminded him of the demon who told Jesus to call him “Legion, for we are many.”

John Aravosis wrote on his Americablog that while it was “Colbert’s schtick to be the crazy O’Reilly Republican, there was no silver lining to his attack on Facebook’s new gender policy.” Instead, Colbert “mocked this new concept of gender,” and “the audience was laughing at the 'absurdity' of the policy.”

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“I’m having a difficult time understanding how Colbert’s segment on Facebook was anything but nasty,” he said.

“You don’t walk away feeling like Colbert secretly skewered people who oppose this new multi-gendered policy,” Aravosis wrote, although he acknowledged “parts of the segment were pro-trans,” too. “Rather, you laugh hysterically at the alleged 'absurdity' of the policy itself.”

The segment aired last Tuesday.

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