Thanks to Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair cover, Laverne Cox ("Orange Is the New Black"), and critically acclaimed shows like "Transparent," transgender rights finally started to become part of the national conversation in the past year. However, as John Oliver pointed out in a segment in Sunday’s "Last Week Tonight," we must not become complacent, because there’s a lot of work left to be done.
In a 16-minute segment, Oliver explained basic details about transgender people for those who are still a bit confused and talked through the issues that the community still faces.
"If you’re still wondering ‘What do I call a transgender person? It’s so confusing.’ Actually, it’s pretty simple. Call them whatever they want to be called," Oliver said. "You can do it. We do it all the time. David Evans woke up one day and said, 'Everyone call me The Edge.' And we all went, 'Fine, The Edge. Are we talking the noun or the verb?'"
The "Last Week Tonight" host, whom Vulture recently named the most important person in television, also turned his critical wit on the media's handling of discussions about the transgender community.
“Even when the news media are trying to be supportive, they can make dumb mistakes,” Oliver said, before rolling clips showing journalists inappropriately asking transgender interviewees about their sexual organs. “It is no more OK to ask transgender people about their sex organs than it would be to ask Jimmy Carter whether or not he’s circumcised.”
As always, Oliver handled the subject in a poignant yet accessible and hilarious manner. He was careful to explain that it’s important “we get this right,” because one study estimates there are about 70,000 Americans who identify as transgender, which, as he notes, is more than the population of Boston.
Check out the segment below: