John Cleese was accused of transphobia after seeking to be a Cambodian police officer in a series of tweets defending Harry Potter writer JK Rowling.
The 81-year-old British comedian issued numerous reprimands to other Twitter users on Sunday after reposting a September 30 tweet from Cleese in support of 55-year-old Rowling, who was repeatedly accused of transphobia.
The September post read, "Dear Twits, I added my name to the signers of the letter in Solidarity with JK Rowling," before listing a number of other famous names who signed the letter, including authors Ian McEwan and Lionel Shriver.
On Sunday, a user shared a screenshot of the message and asked Cleese, “Why the hell can't you just let people be who they want to be?
British comedian John Cleese has caused trouble on Twitter over a joke he made while supporting actor JK Rowling, who was widely accused of transphobia [file photo]
In response to a Twitter user who asked Cleese why he couldn't leave people to live their lives the way they want, the comic replied: Deep down, I want to be a Cambodian policewoman. Is that allowed or am I unrealistic? & # 39; The comment annoyed many fans
"Do you actually believe that there is a deep conspiracy to turn people" against their genders "? Or do you like [Rowling] as a person and therefore can't go wrong? The latter probably," the user wrote.
The co-creator of Monty Python replied, “Deep down, I want to be a Cambodian police officer.
"Is that allowed or am I unrealistic?" he wrote.
Several Twitter users were upset by the comment, which they believed trivialized the experiences of transgender people.
One wrote, "You are simplifying a very complex subject here".
Cleese's comments on Sunday came in response to a Twitter user who reposted a September 30th tweet by the comedian saying he had signed a letter in support of Harry Potter writer JK Rowling
& # 39; Trans people being attacked and invalidated from every angle instead of being supportive and uplifting? You say that, ”wrote another.
While some followers disapproved of Cleese's comment, saying it was alienating his transfans, others came in defense of the famous comic.
& # 39; watch some people collapse on this thread … it's obviously a joke. He's a comedian. Get it, folks, ”wrote one Twitter user.
After dealing with several angry Twitter users, Cleese admitted that his understanding of gender identity was "shallow" and admitted that he was "not that interested in trans people" when he tried to cut the conversation off Directing issues that he said he was "more focused" on.
His more pressing concerns included "threats to democracy in America, rampant corruption in Britain, the appalling British press, the revelations of police brutality …".
After dealing with several angry Twitter users, Cleese admitted that his understanding of gender identity was "shallow" and admitted that he was "not that interested in trans people" when he tried to cut the conversation off Directing issues that he said was "more focused" on & # 39;
The letter in support of JK Rowling came after the writer faced major backlashes for her many controversial statements about trans people.
Rowling, a self-proclaimed feminist who insists she is not transphobic, has been labeled just that when critics say she discriminates against transgender women by excluding and segregating her concerns from other women's rights issues.
Controversy over Rowling's stance on transgender issues erupted that summer after she re-launched allegations of transphobia by criticizing the phrase "people with periods".
"Men who menstruate." I am sure that there used to be a word for these people. Someone help me. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud? "She wrote on Twitter in response to a statement that had used the phrase.
It is considered broader than just saying "women," as Rowling seemed to advocate, since cisgender women are not the only people who menstruate.
The author elaborated on her views, saying, “If sex is not real, there is no same-sex attraction.
"When sex is not real, the lived reality of women worldwide is erased," she wrote, adding, "telling the truth is not hate."
“The idea that women like me who have been empathetic towards trans people for decades and feel related because they are just as vulnerable as women, ie towards male violence, hate trans people because they consider sex to be real and has consequences lived – is nonsense. & # 39;
“I respect every trans person's right to live in a way that feels authentic and comfortable to them. I would march with you if you were discriminated against because of your transsexuality.
At the same time, my life was shaped by the fact that I was female. I don't think it's hateful to say that. & # 39;
Rowling, 55, made fun of comments that critics describe as insensitive at best and "transphobic" at worst. Rowling, a self-described feminist, has always claimed that she is not transphobic. Pictured: Rowling attends the 2017 BAFTA Awards in London
Rowling's comments disappointed many fans, who accused the author of misunderstanding the distinction between gender – which is biological – and gender – which is not – and in trying to exclude transgender women from gender equality issues.
The author later caused dismay by including a man disguised as a woman as a murderous villain in her latest addition to her strike detective series, which she writes under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.
Cleese, who played the Hogwarts ghost Nearly Headless Nick in the first two Harry Potter films, previously said he was "stunned" by the backlash against Rowling.
However, other members of the cast, including Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson, have made their support for transgender people clear after Rowling's comments.
"Trans people are who they say they are and deserve to live their lives without constant questioning or being told that they are not who they say they are" Watson tweeted this summer.
In a post for LGBTQ + suicide prevention charity The Trevor Project, Radcliffe wrote after posting Rowling's tweets:
& # 39; Transgender women are women. Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and contradicts any advice from health care professionals who have far more expertise on the subject than Jo or I, ”he wrote, referring to JK Rowling – whose first name is Joanne – by her nickname.
"It is clear that we must do more to support transgender and non-binary people, not to invalidate their identities and not to cause further damage," he wrote, apologizing to "all people who feel now that their experiences were made with the books. " clouded or diminished & # 39 ;.
"I am very sorry for the pain these comments caused you."