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John Oliver Blasts 'Garbage Lady' Kay Ivey for Anti-Trans Law

John Oliver and Kay Ivey

Alabama's law criminalizing the provision of gender-affirming care to minors "is absolutely appalling," Oliver said.

John Oliver lambasted Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey and her state's law criminalizing gender-affirming care for trans youth on his show Sunday night, calling the law "appalling" and Ivey a "garbage lady."

On Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, the host showed a news report about the law, which Ivey signed in April, then said, "That is absolutely appalling. Nobody should ever be facing criminal punishment for providing health care to young people." Those who violate the law face a prison sentence of up to 10 years and a fine of up to $15,000.

Oliver noted that Ivey has made her anti-transgender stances a cornerstone of her campaign as she runs for reelection this year. He played a commercial in which she says, "Some things are just facts. Summer's hot, the ocean's big, and gender is a question of biology, not identity. Here in Alabama, we're gonna go by how God made us, because we identify with something liberals never will: reality."

He commented, "First, fuck you. Second, 'Summer's hot, ocean's big' doesn't sound like the wind-up to denying trans people their rights. It sounds like a children's book the author wrote while hung over."

"As for her point there that we have to respect how God made us, do we?" he added. "Really? Why? Because we've got too many holes, way too little hair, and necks -- fragile lollipop bones that balance our Dum-Dum head in one very specific direction or else we die. None of this is intelligent design."

Ivey, he said, could be played in a miniseries by actress Margo Martindale, although, he remarked, Martindale is a beloved star and Ivey is a "garbage lady."

He played some video of trans young people talking about how gender-affirming care has enhanced and even saved their lives, and pointed out that such care is approved by major medical associations. He mentioned that the rationale around the Alabama law is to prevent "irreversible harm." Often, supporters of legislation like this are focused on genital surgery, but that's not performed on minors on Alabama anyway -- and not recommended for them anywhere. Oliver played video of a doctor making this point and emphasizing that puberty blockers, also banned by the law, have effects that are completely reversible.

"Of course doctors are going to be thoughtful and rigorous when caring for their patients because, unlike the Alabama legislature, they actually care about kids' well-being," Oliver said.

He noted that a federal judge Friday issued an injunction temporarily blocking enforcement of parts of the Alabama law, specifically the ban on puberty blockers and hormone treatment. The ban on surgery remains in place, as does a provision requiring teachers and school counselors to out trans children to their parents.

He went on to play more videos of trans Alabamians, including one who sent this message to Ivey and legislators: "Thank you for making Alabama a national embarrassment once again."

Oliver added, "To trans children in Alabama right now... you are important. Your lives are important. I cannot imagine trying to build self-esteem in childhood as your own government attempts to undermine your very existence, but you should know: You are profoundly valuable and you are irreplaceable."

"As for Kay Ivey," he concluded, "what the fuck is wrong with you? ... To put this in terms you will definitely understand: 'Summer's hot, ocean's big, and the people of Alabama definitely deserve a lot better than you.'"

The segment begins at about the two-minute mark.

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