The Daily Show is taking a stand against anti-trangender discrimination.
In fact, nearly the entirety of Wednesday night's episode of the Comedy Central show hosted by Trevor Noah was devoted to trans issues. A central eight-minute segment, "The Trans Panic Epidemic," reviewed the anti-trans political climate in the United States through interviews with several trans activists and one transphobic politician.
In the clip, Daily Show correspondent Jessica Williams begins to illustrate the everyday discrimination faced by transgender Americans by reviewing the story of Meagan Taylor, a trans woman who was profiled as a sex worker in an Iowa hotel and arrested in 2015, solely due to her gender identity.
“I thought it was tough being a black woman,” Williams said in her interview with Taylor. “But compared to a black transgender woman, I might as well be a white frat dude at a Dave Matthews concert."
Williams highlights the statistic that 47 percent of black transgender people will be incarcerated at some point in their lifetimes, an epidemic aggravated by the recent passage of transphobic legislation like “bathroom bills," so-called religious freedom laws, and other measures in states including North Carolina and Mississippi. "Bathroom bills" require people to use restrooms that correspond to their sex at birth instead of their gender identity. "Religious freedom" bills, many of which also place such restrictions on public facilities, allow business owners and individuals to discriminate against a person for their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Citing a recent article from The Advocate, Williams quotes a new report from the Human Rights Campaign showing “a stunning surge of more than 175 anti-LGBT bills in 32 states this year," and linked it to anti-LGBT attitudes and fearmongering that comes from many government leaders.
To show this, Williams interviewed Colorado Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt, a noted anti-LGBT politician and preacher, asking if the public should be afraid of transgender people.
“They not only want to be confused about their own identity, but they want the rest of us to be confused with them," the Republican from Colorado Springs told her. "Now they want the government to join them in that pretense? They’re making us into liars."
When pressed by Williams to explain his anti-LGBT attitudes, Klingenschmitt first had to “change into my alter ego,” which was his chaplain’s vestments. In this garb, he quoted Bible verses from his smartphone, in order to justify his support of “religious freedom” laws that target LGBT people.
The irony of his mid-interview transition was not lost on Williams, who compared Klingenschmitt to the bisexual singer Lady Gaga.
Williams also sat down with the “so-called liars,” a group of eight transgender activists, to uncover their “evil intentions.”
“There’s a notion that trans people are perpetrators in some way, that we’re sneaking and trying to trick you for the purposes of having sex with you,” one activist stated. “That’s not the case at all,” another added.
“It’s surely not a choice,” another activist said of their gender identity. “That’s all you need to know.”
Williams then flipped the script, and had the group ask her the invasive questions about sexual orientation and gender identity that they often hear.
After Williams's segment, host Trevor Noah welcomed entrepreneur, business leader, military veteran, and transgender role model Angelica Ross, founder of TransTech Enterprises. Ross's D.C.-based company offers skilled training to trans and LGB people in tech, web, and data fields so that they can improve their job prospects in an effort to counteract the disproportionately high rates of underemployment and poverty transgender people face.
Watch the clip below.