On Jon Stewart's commentary about Caitlyn Jenner

First off, Stewart has frequently and unapologetically used transmisogynist humour in his show. Let’s be really clear about who we’re praising here, especially when trans women have been talking for decades about the same phenomenon Stewart is highlighting, and we have been providing much more insightful critiques of both the cis gaze and the male gaze than he can possibly provide with his cisnormative lens. I guess our womanhood is finally useful to Stewart.

It’s shocking how quickly people will jump to blatant misogyny as soon as they gender me correctly. A guy once asked a friend of mine if I was really a girl and upon learning that I was in fact a girl he said “Oh, okay then… well, she’s sure got a great ass!” This kind of stuff happens to us all the time and we sure as hell don’t need cis people to patronizingly educate us about our own lived experiences. We also don’t need our experiences co-opted for the benefit of cis people.

Second, the idea that trans women suddenly experience womanhood once we transition implies that we weren’t really women before; Stewart even says that Caitlyn “used to be a man,” which he would know better than if he had bothered to read GLADD’s very clear media guidelines.

As a trans woman I know a lot about womanhood that cis women do not know. I know what it’s like to be a woman who was literally brainwashed into believing she was a man. That’s a kind of womanhood which is as authentic and real as any other. I haven’t been introduced to womanhood, but HOW I do my womanhood has changed drastically. 

Transition hasn’t been primarily about hormones, or clothing, or makeup, or pronouns, or my name. It’s been about transforming a crushing shame that was ground into my soul over decades. It’s about reclaiming my power as a woman, a power which was unjustly torn from me as a little girl. So, misogyny isn’t new to me; I’ve experienced shatteringly violent misogyny all my life, but HOW I experience misogyny has changed.

For just one example, I now get cat-called regularly. It’s the standard leers and wolf whistles and skeezy comments. You know how I feel when I get cat-called? Disgust at being objectified, certainly, but more than that I feel afraid. I am afraid that after that man has sexualized my body he’s going to then clock me as trans, and I’m afraid that once he starts to panic about his masculinity that he will escalate to more severe forms of harrassment or direct violence. I look over my shoulder quite often.

My femininity is at once held to a higher standard than that of cis women, and if I fail at femininity not only am I devalued as a woman but my very womanhood (and thereby my personhood and humanity) itself is attacked. That is a whole other level of misogyny that I would never welcome any woman to.

So, don’t welcome me to your garden-variety cis misogyny when I’ve been crawling through the trenches of transmisogyny for decades trying to hold on to my womanhood for dear life.

Don’t welcome me to my own damn womanhood, it is for me to welcome you to my womanhood. Stay for a spell and maybe you’ll learn a thing or two.

[EDIT: response to criticisms about this article]

Jon Stewart on the Charleston shooting:

I didn’t do my job today. I’ve got nothing for you in terms of jokes and sounds because of what happened in South Carolina. And maybe if I wasn’t nearing the end of the run or this wasn’t such a common occurrence, maybe I could have pulled out of the spiral. But I didn’t.

I honestly have nothing other than just sadness once again that we have to peer into the abyss of the depraved violence that we do to each other and the nexus of a just gaping racial wound that will not heal yet we pretend doesn’t exist. I’m confident though, that by acknowledging it – by staring into that and seeing it for what it is…We still won’t do jack shit. Yeah, that’s us. And that’s the part that blows my mind.

I don’t want to get into the political argument of guns and things. What blows my mind is the disparity of response between when we think people that are foreign are going to kill us and us killing ourselves…

If this had been what we thought was Islamic terrorism, it would fit into our [narrative]. We invaded two countries and spent trillions of dollars and [lost] thousands of American lives and now fly unmanned death machines over like five or six different counties, all to keep Americans safe. We’ve got to do whatever we can – we’ll torture people. We’ve got to do whatever we can to keep Americans safe. But nine people shot in a church, what about that? “Hey, what are you going go to do? Crazy is as crazy is, right?”

That’s the part that I cannot, for the life of me, wrap my head around. And you know it’s gonna go down the same path. “This is a terrible tragedy.” They are already using the nuanced language of lack of effort for this.

This is a terrorist attack. This is a violent attack on the Emanuel Church in South Carolina which is a symbol for the black community. It has stood in that part of Charleston for a hundred and some years and has been attacked viciously many times – as many black churches have. And to pretend that – I heard someone on the news say – “tragedy has visited this church”. This wasn’t a tornado. This was a racist. This was a guy with a Rhodesia badge on his sweater. So the idea that – I hate to even use this pun – but this one is black and white. There’s no nuance here. And we’re gonna keep pretending like, “I don’t get it, what happened. This one guy lost his mind.”

But we are steeped in that culture in this country and we refuse to recognize it. And I cannot believe how hard people are working to discount it. In South Carolina, the roads that people drive on are named for Confederate generals who fought to keep black people from being able to drive freely on that road. That’s insanity. That’s racial wallpaper. You can’t allow that.

Nine people were shot in a black church by a white guy who hated them – who wanted to start some kind of civil war. The Confederate flag flies over South Carolina and the roads are named for Confederate generals. And the white guy is the one who feels his country’s being taken away from him. We’re bringing it on ourselves.

And that’s the thing – Al Qaeda, all those guys, ISIS – they’re not shit compared to the damage that we can apparently do to ourselves on a regular basis.


A month after Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair cover, Jon Stewart’s prediction has come true 

How prescient Stewart’s statements have become. Like other female celebrities, the media has wasted no time trumpeting Jenner’s every move and outfit. Compare this to how she was treated before her public transition and the double standard becomes abundantly clear.


I got nothing for you, in terms of jokes and sounds. Because of what happened in South Carolina. And maybe if I wasn’t nearing the end of the run, or this wasn’t such a common occurrence, maybe I could’ve pulled out of the spiral, but I didn’t. So I honestly have nothing.


Jon Stewart Says He Can’t Tell Jokes After Charleston Church Shooting

Jon Stewart makes his living turning the news into jokes. But on the day after a racially motivated massacre left nine dead at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, Stewart said he had no jokes to tell.

Sometimes we wait for others and think that Martin Luther should raise among us, Nelson Mandela should raise up among us and speak up for us, but we never realize they are normal humans like us – and if we step forward we can also bring change just like them.

Malala Yousafzai

Everyone’s talking about Jon Stewart’s heartfelt, respectful comments on Charleston, just as each time a tragedy like this happens his response is thoughtful and moving, but something even better to take away is the interview with Malala Yousafzai, whose actions and words are the kind of inspiration we should be striving for, in times of tragedy or otherwise.