US

Dr Phil sparks transphobic pile-on with ‘debate’ on existence of non-binary people

Lily Wakefield January 27, 2022
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Dr Phil

Dr Phil staged a "debate" on the existence of trans and non-binary folk. (CTV)

An episode of Dr Phil has sparked transphobic social media pile-on after a “debate” was staged on the existence of trans and non-binary people.

The TV show Dr Phil is hosted by Phil McGraw, who holds a doctorate in clinical psychology but has not renewed his license to practice since 2006.

The episode in question, aired on 19 January, was described by McGraw as a “safe place to talk and learn” about transgender identities and pronouns.

Addison Rose Vincent and their spouse Ethan, who are both non-binary, appeared as guests on the show.

The episode began as educational, with the couple explaining their own identities, describing the difference between sex and gender, discussing how to ask another person which pronouns they use, and detailing how trans and non-binary people have existed for centuries, in every culture.

However, it soon took a dark turn.

The next guest to appear was The Daily Wire‘s Matt Walsh, who has compared affirming healthcare for trans people to experimentation, molestation, abuse and rape, and the episode hurtled into a debate on the existence and experiences of trans and non-binary folk.

During the show, Walsh described being trans as a “delusion”, a “mental illness”, and a “charade”.

According to Media Matters for Americaa non-profit research centre which fights misinformation in US media, Vincent and their spouse reported depression and nightmares after their appearance on the show.

The organisation analysed dataset of 1,773 Facebook pages that frequently post about US news and politics, and found that the Dr Phil episode sparked a transphobic pile-on from right-wing outlets.

The episode was shared and reacted to almost exclusively by right-wing pages, which were responsible for 141 posts and 99.8 per cent of reactions.

Ideologically non-aligned and left-leaning pages accounted for less than one per cent of interactions, and produced just six posts.

Much of the attention brought to the Dr Phil episode came from a video put out by Walsh himself, titled “Leftists Traumatized After Meeting Me”, in which he “selectively edited” the episode, mocked the non-binary guests, and said they were trying to “appropriate womanhood and turn it into basically a costume that can be worn.”

The horrific Dr Phil episode has been slammed by the LGBT+ community and allies.

Steph Frosch, LGBT+ rights activist and PhD student, wrote on Twitter: “The fact that Dr Phil used his platform to EXPLOIT two non-binary guests he invited on his show to discuss pronouns, by inviting a transphobic, cretinous troll on stage to mock the suffering and oppression of trans people immediately after is DISGUSTING and so is he.”

Imara Jones, founder of TransLash Media, described the rhetoric platformed by Dr Phil as “the basis for the murders and violence against us”, while Brennan Suen, senior strategist for Media Matters for America added: “One thing about when mainstream outlets pose trans/ non-binary identities as a ‘debate; is that even if the host did a great job (which Dr Phil did not), the content that comes out of coverage like this is built for the right to weaponise.”

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