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How Jonathan Van Ness Clapped Back at Megyn Kelly Over Mocking Trans Inclusion in Sports

How Jonathan Van Ness Clapped Back at Megyn Kelly Over Mocking Trans Inclusion in Sports

Jonathan Van Ness and Megyn Kelly

The Queer Eye star called out the right-wing pundit’s transphobic mockery.


Jonathan Van Ness, beauty influencer, entrepreneur, and star of the popular Netflix reality show Queer Eye, took to Instagram on Wednesday to respond to comments by Megyn Kelly mocking their advocacy for trans inclusion in sports. In an impassioned video, Van Ness challenged Kelly’s assertion that trans inclusion endangered women’s sports and went on to address the broader issues of gender equality and fairness in athletics.

Van Ness Already Had to Defend Trans Rights This Week

The exchange comes on the heels of Van Ness’s recent appearance on the podcast “Armchair Expert,” hosted by actor Dax Shepard. In that interview, the two heatedly debated whether The New York Times is a progressive news outlet and, later, on the topic of trans inclusion in sports. Shepard, despite identifying as a Democrat committed to liberal causes, presented counterarguments to Van Ness’s points on trans rights, which caught the Queer Eye star by surprise.

The tension was palpable as Shepard and Van Ness navigated a conversation steeped in current political debates, such as legislating trans participation in sports across various U.S. states. Van Ness, who identifies as nonbinary, argued that restricting trans kids from sports is tantamount to legalizing bullying under the guise of “protecting girls in sports.”

“This whole notion that to be critical or to question [something], you’re seeing the whiplash reaction to that,” Shepard said about trans inclusion in sports. “To even question it makes you an enemy. I don’t think that’s the way forward.”

Van Ness argued that “when you have an outsized reaction to something, there’s a good chance that you’re being exposed to misinformation and disinformation. And a lot of the rhetoric around anti-trans inclusion and just the anti-trans backlash does have a lot of misinformation and disinformation in it.”

They added, “I’m a nonbinary f*cking trans person. When I talk to my dad or people who say similar things, it’s hard to be cool through that. I’m not calling you a transphobe. You cannot be transphobic and still have thoughts that espouse trans misogyny and espouse transphobic ideologies or beliefs... Just like how I have to challenge biases about white privilege and make sure I’m not speaking over someone who is a person of color or a Black person if we’re talking about racism or police brutality.”

The conversation, at times, brought Van Ness to tears.

“I could just cry because I’m so tired of having to fight for little kids because they just want to be included,” they said. “I wish that people were as passionate about little kids being able to be included or grow up as they were about fictitious women’s fairness in sports.”

Van Ness’s Rebuttal to Kelly

Kelly, who left Fox News for a brief stint on NBC’s Megyn Kelly Today show, which she was fired from after suggesting it was fine for white people to wear blackface, commented on Van Ness’s appearance in a video for her web chat show.

She feigned tears as she claimed, “I’m so tired too. I’m so tired. I’m tired of having to stand up for my daughter’s right to play sports with other girls. I’m tired of having to stand up for the volleyball player down in North Carolina…”

Despite her protestations, there are no factual instances where trans athletes have prevented her daughter from participating in sports with other girls.

In response, Van Ness swiftly took to their Instagram account to counter her assertions with a video of their own.

Responding to Kelly, Van Ness questioned why there isn’t a similar level of concern when cisgender athletes cause injuries.

“Trans women don’t make sports dangerous. [Sports] are dangerous,” they argued, pointing out that athletics inherently come with risks.

Van Ness also touched upon systemic issues like unequal access to training facilities, scholarships, and professional leagues for women. “Women deserve the same access to money, advertising dollar resources, training facilities, scholarship opportunities, professional league opportunities that men do, and I’m advocating for that all the time,” they said.

A Broad Perspective on Rights

Van Ness clarified that their advocacy for trans rights doesn’t come at the expense of women’s rights. They emphasized the need to fight for fairness across the board, encapsulating a more extensive view that seeks to go beyond the divisive debate on trans inclusion in sports.

This Instagram clap-back is not just another celebrity feud but reflects the pulse of a larger, ongoing societal conversation around inclusivity and fairness in sports and beyond. Van Ness’s words are a call to reframe the discourse from exclusion to equality.

Continuing the Conversation

The day after the Armchair Expert interview aired, Van Ness clarified their position on Instagram, critiquing the science that detractors of trans inclusion often cite. They also noted the lack of professional trans athletes despite trans women being allowed to participate in sports like tennis and swimming for decades.

As the topic continues to elicit strong opinions and capture national attention, figures like Van Ness and Kelly represent differing viewpoints in a complex dialogue. Yet, for Van Ness, the issue is clear: “I’m advocating for all the people,” they concluded.


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Christopher Wiggins