Four minutes into the special, Gervais dives into material about the trans community, seemingly calculated to draw controversy.
“Oh, women!” he starts. “Not all women, I mean the old-fashioned ones. The old-fashioned women, the ones with wombs. Those fucking dinosaurs. I love the new women. They’re great, aren’t they? The new ones we’ve been seeing lately. The ones with beards and cocks. They’re as good as gold, I love them. And now the old-fashioned ones say, ‘Oh, they want to use our toilets.’ ‘Why shouldn’t they use your toilets?’ ‘For ladies!’ ‘They are ladies — look at their pronouns! What about this person isn’t a lady?’ ‘Well, his penis.’ ‘Her penis, you fucking bigot!’ ‘What if he rapes me?’ ‘What if she rapes you, you fucking TERF whore?'”
TERF, or Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist, has been associated with people who reject the notion that trans women are women.
A few minutes later, when discussing Kevin Hart removing himself from hosting the Oscars in 2018 for past homophobic tweets, Gervais continued joking about the trans community.
“You can’t predict what will be offensive in the future,” Gervais said. “You don’t know who the dominant mob will be. Like, the worst thing you can say today, get you cancelled on Twitter, death threats, the worst thing you can say today is, ‘Women don’t have penises,’ right? Now, no one saw that coming. You won’t find a ten-year-old tweet of someone saying, ‘Women don’t have penises.’ You know why? We didn’t think we fucking had to!”
Toward the end of the special, Gervais offers his reasoning for trans jokes, saying, “Full disclosure: In real life of course I support trans rights. I support all human rights, and trans rights are human rights. Live your best life. Use your preferred pronouns. Be the gender that you feel that you are. But meet me halfway, ladies: Lose the cock. That’s all I’m saying.”
Amid scores of fans and right-wingers taking to Twitter to defend Gervais’ set against dissent, trans allies urged followers to not watch the special:
Ricky Gervais has a new stand up show out on Netflix today.
5 minutes in and he’s making jokes about trans women attacking & raping people in public bathrooms. To him we exist only as a punchline, a threat, something less than human.
— Esme (@discount_Ripley) May 24, 2022
Ricky Gervais is a disgrace, he is going to cause hate crime and ultimately the death of Trans folk. Anyone who needs to vilify minorities to get a laugh is the most evil hateful soul and seriously needs mental help https://t.co/0odAuWMUWp
— Dr Amy Roberts (@DRAmRoberts) May 24, 2022
if you’re a comedian and you support trans people it’s your responsibility to be speaking out against dave chapelle and the new ricky gervais special. at this point you can’t call yourself an ally if you’re not publicly taking a stand against it. it’s the bare minimum.
— martha (@moominmarxist) May 24, 2022
It's getting worse this year. Yesterday Parliament had MPs discussing "the trans question". Their words!
And now today there's Ricky Gervais.
Trans people are going to end up getting killed over this. We need international help. A lifeline. Anything.
— UnicornsRock 🏳️🌈🏳️⚧️ (@UnicornsRockUK) May 24, 2022
Ricky Gervais could go after the governments, banks, billionaires. The ones causing actual harm to ordinary people all over the world on an unfathomable scale every single day.
But he goes after trans people instead. Yeah Ricky, son, you speak your truth to power. Coward.
— Elon Musk is a cunt (@Gobias___) May 24, 2022
Ricky Gervais doing a set on trans folks.
How daring. How novel. How heroic!
Comedy that really makes you think!
Made me think of a man called Barry who sits in a pub in Hyde sipping a John Smiths all day, reading the Mail, making similar gags and complaining about immigrants.
— Paul Husband (@PaulHusband_) May 24, 2022
— Big Red (@bigredgaymer) May 24, 2022
Throughout the special, Gervais also bemoaned “cancel culture” for comedians and actors like Louis C.K., Liam Neeson and Hart — all of whom still have lucrative showbusiness careers.
Netflix drew controversy last year after releasing Chappelle’s standup special “The Closer,” which was filled with transphobic material and inspired an employee walkout at the streamer.