John Cleese Accused of Transphobia After Tweeting ‘I Want to Be a Cambodian Police Woman’

The 81-year-old "Monty Python" icon sent out a flurry of tweets in defense of J.K. Rowling's well-known anti-trans position.
The One Show. Actor John Cleese arriving at BBC Broadcasting House ahead of his appearance on The One Show in London. Picture date: Wednesday August 8, 2018. Photo credit should read: Isabel Infantes/PA Wire URN:37932824 (Press Association via AP Images)
John Cleese

John Cleese, famous for his outrageous turns in the “Monty Python” series and films, is now outraging trans advocates and users on Twitter after sending out a flurry of tweets over the weekend questioning trans rights, and defending “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling. Cleese remains under fire for signing a letter earlier this year in support of Rowling, whose controversial views about the trans community are well known, and which she has continued to defend in spite of backlash. Rowling has been in the crosshairs all year for her antagonistic stance.

“Deep down, I want to be a Cambodian police woman. Is that allowed, or am I being unrealistic?” the 81-year-old Cleese tweeted in response to one user who asked him, “Why the fuck can’t you just let people be who they want to be? Do you actually think there is some deep conspiracy to turn people ‘against their genders’? Or do you like her as a person and therefore there isn’t anything she can do wrong? Latter probably…”

“I’m afraid I’m not that interested in trans folks I just hope they’re happy and that people treat them kindly,” Cleese wrote. “Right now I’m more focussed on threats to democracy in America, the rampant corruption in the UK, the appalling British Press, the revelations about police brutality…”

Cleese was among the 58 signatories of a letter published in The Sunday Times in September defending Rowling against cancel culture. She drew widespread condemnation this year when she said that trans people should be defined by their biological sex, arguing that “if sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction.” Rowling quit tweeting briefly but re-emerged with an essay elaborating on her views. In the piece, she dismissed her critics, arguing that detractors were harassing her for “wrongthink” and bemoaning that she should “never, ever expect a nuanced conversation” on Twitter.

Cleese continued to send out many tweets on Sunday, decrying what he believes to be the misguided emphasis on identity politics over other issues like government corruption and police brutality. Cleese remarked that his sympathies “exclude all wokes, of course. I hope they fry in their own sanctimoniousness and narcissistic posturing,” he wrote.

Among the many tweets, Cleese wrote, “When a woman who was once a man is competing against women who have always been women, I think she has an advantage, because she inherited a man’s body, which is usually bigger and stronger than a woman’s Does that prove phobia?”

Activist Charlotte Clymer tweeted in response to Cleese’s tweetstorm, “John, we are not being treated kindly. And I’m not talking about cordiality. I’m talking about discrimination in employment, housing, health care and other areas of living, all of which is exacerbated when public figures speak from ignorance and bigotry on trans rights.”

See more of the tweets below.

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