Jonathan Van Ness and Armchair Expert’s Dax Shepard have heated exchange about trans rights

Armchair Expert Podcast JVN
Dax Shepard, Jonathan Van Ness and Monica Padman. Image: Instagram

Jonathan Van Ness recently appeared on Dax Shepard’s podcast Armchair Expert, but what started as a lighthearted conversation ended with the Queer Eye star in tears. 

The trouble began during a discussion about whether The New York Times is a left-leaning news source.

Van Ness emphasised that one should not regard a publication as progressive when its platforms feature an abundance of “anti-trans” content.

In response to Van Ness, Shepard said: “Some people are very uncomfortable about teenagers transitioning. They’re challenging that. How do we know that the person’s not gonna change their mind?”

Trans women in sports

Shepard then raised the topic of trans women in sports.

“Do I wish that the trans woman athlete had access and could play and follow her dream? I do,” he said.

“Will I elevate her rights over women? We’re pretending women aren’t the ultimate marginalised class throughout history.”

He added that he believed it was a “fair question” to evaluate if it was “fair” for cisgender women to compete against someone who had been classified as a male athlete before transitioning.”

However, Van Ness said that a lot of anti-trans rhetoric was misinformation.

“All I’m saying is what we know about misinformation and disinformation is when you have an outsized reaction to something. There’s a good chance that you’re being exposed to misinformation and disinformation,” they said.

“And a lot of the rhetoric around the anti-trans backlash does have a lot of misinformation and disinformation in it.”

They continued: “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 colour or a Black person if we’re talking about racism or police brutality.”

Shepard later apologised for getting into the debate with Van Ness. This is when Van Ness got emotional, noting how “tired” they are to fight for trans kids who just want to play sports.

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

Jonathan Van Ness responds to a podcast episode.

In a Sept 27 Instagram story, Van Ness wrote: “I don’t quite have words for this yet, but I will someday.”

The upload included a screenshot of the title card for Van Ness’ Armchair Expert episode.

They then posted an Instagram reel discussing trans inclusion in sports.

Despite the backlash, Shepard has not stated about the podcast episode.


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A post shared by Jonathan Van Ness (@jvn)

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Sarah Davison
Sarah Davison

After working in print and radio, Sarah has joined the team at QNews to expand their coverage into South Australia. Sarah has a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology, and a Masters in Journalism, Media, and Communications. Get in touch:

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