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John Cleese Accused Of Transphobia After Expressing Support For J.K. Rowling
John Cleese, an English actor, comedian, screenwriter, and producer speaks at Pendulum Summit, World's Leading Business & Self Empowerment Summit, in Dublin Convention Center. On Thursday, January 10, 2019, in Dublin, Ireland.
Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Comedian John Cleese (“Monty Python”), an outspoken opponent of political correctness, has been accused of transphobia for expressing support for author J.K. Rowling, who opposes aspects of transgender ideology.

Over the weekend, social media users began criticizing Cleese in response to a letter he signed expressing support for J.K. Rowling. After taking enough heat, the noted comedian hit back.

“Deep down, I want to be a Cambodian police woman,” he joked. “Is that allowed, or am I being unrealistic ?”

The backlash came fierce and swift.

“I saw you fall out of a wheelchair in front of a crowd of students at UCSB while speaking bitterly about how much your wife had taken from you in the divorce. I felt bad seeing it. You were a human being. You were suffering. Now you inflict harm on minority groups for clout,” said one user.

“Oh, man. I’ve been a fan of Monty Python & some of your other work for years and it’s so disappointing to see you take such a hurtful stance on this issue. Trans people are being attacked & invalidated from every angle, & instead of being supportive & uplifting? You say this,” said another user.

“It’s sad when an old comedian whose work I loved back in the day can no longer come up with decent material and instead regurgitates a variant of the same old unfunny joke endlessly repeated by anti-trans bigots,” said David Gorski, MD, PhD. 

Cleese doubled-down on his stance and refused to apologize, asserting that he has no ill will toward “trans folks” and had bigger issues on his mind.

“I’m afraid I’m not that interested in trans folks,” he said. “I just hope they’re happy and that people treat them kindly. Right now I’m more focussed 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. Does than sound hard-hearted ?” he continued.


In response to the accusations of transphobia, Cleese later tweeted his opposition to biological men competing in women’s sports.

“Yes, my understanding is superficial,” he wrote. “One thing: When a woman who was once a man is competing against women who have always been women, I think she has an advantage, because she inherited a man’s body, which is usually bigger and stronger than a woman’s Does that prove phobia?”

Speaking with Reuters this past July, Cleese said that cancel culture, often fueled by political correctness, “misunderstands the main purposes of life, which is to have fun.”

“Everything humorous is critical. If you have someone who is perfectly kind and intelligent and flexible and who always behaves appropriately, they’re not funny. Funniness is about people who don’t do that, like Trump,” he said.

Cleese added that political correctness creates a problem for comedians because they “have to set the bar according to what we are told by the most touchy, most emotionally unstable and fragile, and least stoic people in the country.”

RELATED: WATCH: ‘Monty Python’ Star John Cleese Says Scotland’s Hate Speech Bill ‘Disastrous To The Creative Process’

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