Ricky Gervais has posted a series of seemingly transphobic tweets prompted by J.K. Rowling’s support of Maya Forstater, a researcher who was fired for tweeting that a person cannot change their biological sex. In later tweets, Gervais implied the tweets were meant as jokes.
In the first tweet, Gervais, who has been tapped to host the Golden Globes, responded to a tweet from the satire account @JarvisDupont that linked to an article in Spectator USA, a news website from British conservative weekly mag The Spectator, once edited by current PM Boris Johnson. The article was mockingly written as though from the perspective of a trans woman angry over Rowling’s comments.
“Those awful biological women can never understand what it must be like for you becoming a lovely lady so late in life,” Gervais wrote. “They take their girly privileges for granted. Winning at female sports and having their own toilets. Well, enough is enough.”
A follow-up tweet responding to a user that urged “kindness is magic,” read, “Exactly. We need to protect the rights of women. Not erode them because some men have found a new cunning way to dominate and demonise an entire sex.”
When a Twitter user called him out for the tweets, Gervais wrote that the user “hasn’t even realised I’m playing along with a spoof account.”
Again responding to the user, who asked that Gervais consider how transphobia can cause real harm, Gervais replied, “I do. I also make jokes about AIDS, Cancer, Famine, and The Holocaust. Those things do a bit of harm too. But jokes don’t. Have a nice day.”
Another Twitter user asked Gervais to clarify his stance, and said, “if it was a joke it fell flat.” Gervais wrote, “That’s why it was free.”
In another thread, Gervais told a user to report him if he’d said anything transphobic. “My account will be closed down and you’ll be proved right and will have saved millions of lives. Why aren’t you doing this?”
Gervais’ selection as Golden Globes host prompted some raised eyebrows when it was announced considering his history of controversial joke material, particularly jokes at the expense of trans individuals. During his 2016 hosting of the Globes, he deadnamed Olympic Gold medalist Caitlyn Jenner from the Golden Globes stage. His 2018 special “Humanity” also included several jokes about Jenner.
Following controversy after he mocked a transgender activist on Halloween this year, Gervais posted a tweet explaining that he enjoys it when his tweets spark backlash. “The more people are offended by a joke, particularly on twitter, the funnier I find it. And the angrier the tweet, the more chance of me using it and turning it to laughs and cash. PC culture isn’t killing comedy. It’s driving it. As it always did.”
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association and Gervais’ rep did not immediately respond to Variety‘s request for comment.
In promotional spots for the televised event, NBC has leaned into Gervais’ unpredictability, airing one ad that included the voiceover, “as usual, we have no idea what he’s going to do.”
Gervais previously hosted the Golden Globes in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2016. He’s best known as creator and star of the U.K. version of “The Office” and “Extras,” and has has won three Golden Globes, two Primetime Emmys and seven BAFTAs.