Bernie Sanders is drawing outrage for touting the support of sports commentator and podcast host Joe Rogan, who has made many offensive statements concerning transgender people, along with homophobic, sexist, and racist comments.
Rogan, host of The Joe Rogan Experience, has said that mixed martial arts fighter Fallon Fox, a trans woman, is “a fucking man” and that trans women should not compete against cisgender women in sports. He also has objected to the use of puberty blockers for young trans people.
Sanders, the independent U.S. senator from Vermont, sent out a tweet Thursday showing Rogan saying he will probably vote for Sanders in the Democratic presidential primary.
The candidate may be unaware of Rogan’s numerous problematic comments, but here’s a sampling.
He went into a rant against Fox in 2013. “You can’t fight women,” he said, according to a transcript on the Fight Opinion website. “That’s fucking crazy. I don’t know why she thinks that she’s going to be able to do that. If you want to be a woman in the bedroom and you know you want to play house and all of that other shit and you feel like you have, your body is really a woman’s body trapped inside a man’s frame and so you got a operation, that’s all good in the hood. But you can’t fight chicks. Get the fuck out of here. You’re out of your mind. You need to fight men, you know? Period. You need to fight men your size because you’re a man. You’re a man without a dick.”
Rogan has said his only objection to trans people is their presence in sports (and there is ample evidence that trans women do not have an advantage over cis women in athletics), but he has made other comments that are ignorant at best. In a 2019 episode, he said of trans children, “People don’t know who they are, a 7-year-old people don’t even give their 7-year-old phones, you don’t let them vote, you're gonna let them decide what sex they’re gonna be for the rest of their life?”
He also said children that young shouldn’t be given hormones. But the use of puberty blockers (which are an analog of a hormone) usually doesn’t start until the age at which a child goes into puberty, usually 12 or 13, and the effect is reversible. In that same episode, he wondered if these young people would regret transitioning, but studies have indicated such regrets are extremely rare.
Perhaps most problematic, Rogan talked about the risk of suicide among trans youth and associated it with going through transition, not with lack of acceptance. He cited a Swedish study that indicated those who had transitioned had “considerably higher risks for mortality, suicidal behavior, and psychiatric morbidity than the general population.” But the lead author, Cecilia Dhejne, has said the research has been misinterpreted, as such risks would likely be higher without transition, and that transition alone does not make the effects of anti-trans bigotry go away.
In addition to his anti-trans comments, Rogan been caught in antigay rhetoric; has joked about Hillary Clinton performing oral sex on men in exchange for money, among numerous sexist remarks; and has been shown on video using the n word and making other racist statements.
Several Twitter users have blasted Sanders for promoting Rogan’s endorsement. Some, however, said it was unfair to hold him responsible for Rogan’s views and that criticism of Sanders amounted to purity-policing.