Joe Rogan Is Ramping Up His Anti-Trans Activism

In an interview with transphobic activist Riley Gaines, Rogan took his mask off for the second time in one week.

Joe Rogan Is Ramping Up His Anti-Trans Activism
Image via Joe Rogan/YouTube.

Fresh off his interview with anti-trans propagandist Chris Rufo, Joe Rogan sat down this week with another anti-trans activist: Riley Gaines, the former University of Kentucky competitive swimmer who in 2022 tied with trans swimmer Lia Thomas for fifth place in a championship race and proceeded to make this her entire personality. Per GLAAD

Since then Gaines has lobbied against the inclusion of trans women in the women’s division of sports, been a frequent guest on right-wing media, travels nationwide for panels advocating against transgender people, and campaigned for anti-trans candidates for public office including Rand Paul, Ron DeSantis, Kim Reynolds, Daniel Cameron, and others.

The episode is essentially two hours of thinly disguised and not-so-thinly disguised hate speech, with Gaines at several points outright denying the legitimacy of trans identity and Rogan appearing to agree with her. Not only do they both repeatedly misgender Lia Thomas, Rogan goes so far as to mock the idea that gender-affirming care might be life-saving for some who receive it, arguing further that trans activism is “nonsense” and “a cult.” At one point, he declares “the Thais have had it right forever” because “they don’t pretend they’re women, they [say], ‘I’m a lady boy.’” Elsewhere, he agrees with Gaines that trans people have been deprived of any rights, adding: “They have extra ones.”

I’m sorry to do this twice in one week, but as I said the other day, I really do believe this needs to be recorded somewhere and I haven’t seen the episode receive any coverage beyond Fox News, which obviously is all in favor. I’d like to share one section, about forty minutes into the conversation, that seems to reflect Rogan’s belief that trans identity is fundamentally not real. I’ll note that this is an idea he introduces at the very beginning of the episode, when he asks Gaines to describe her “first introduction to this insanity of biological men with gender dysphoria trying to compete with women.” This echoes a sentiment he expressed in the Rufo episode: “I have full sympathy for someone who has gender dysphoria,” he said. “I’ve met many people that I truly believe they have, somewhere in there, they are a woman and they got stuck in a man’s body, and I think that’s real and I think that’s always happened.” 

Note that in both cases he conceptualizes trans women as “men with gender dysphoria,” a framing that provides useful context for his enthusiastic agreement with Gaines’ repeated assertions that trans identity just isn’t a thing. The following exchange occurs about 40 minutes into the episode, after Gaines describes the “emotional blackmail and gaslighting” she experienced in her senior year of college.

ROGAN: It's a cult. I mean, and that's really what it is. And it doesn't make sense to anybody who's not in the cult. But the people in the cult, they'll use terms like when that person said, "If you don't vote for me, I'm going to kill myself." They use these very sneaky terms, like "life-saving gender affirming care" in regards to castrating children and putting them on hormone blockers and removing their breasts. They use this crazy term that seems like, "Well, it's gotta be good. It's life-saving, gender-affirming.”
GAINES: But really, think about the message that even just the verbiage of "gender affirming care" sends, whether it's to a minor or anyone for that matter, right? We're telling them, especially kids, we're telling them that they're correct to feel as if they were born in the wrong body. Which, what a terrible, what a terrible message. We should be telling them that they're perfect just the way God created them. That's what we should be telling these kids.
ROGAN: Yeah.
GAINES: But that's not the message that being sent.
ROGAN: No, it's, it's one of the most bizarre things. And you know, Doug—
GAINES: And even like—sorry to—but even this verbiage of "sex reassignment surgery." It sounds harmless, but when you say it, it's as if you're subconsciously admitting that you can in fact reassign your sex. Which is so detrimental to the English language. And we're playing into their game when we use that verbiage. Even the verbiage of "biological woman”—
ROGAN: Yeah.
GAINES: —I've got such a problem with, and I didn't always, because again, I thought I had to make the distinction, right? "I am a biological female. [Lia] Thomas is a biological male." I had to take a lot of math courses, upper-level math courses, in college. And so I'm standing there one day and I'm like, if this was an algebra equation, wouldn't those words "biological" just like cancel each other out? Like, why are we saying that? And then it hit me, I'm like, how silly and redundant, as if I have to add that prerequisite of biological to declare I'm a biological being. That's so dumb. 
ROGAN: Right.
GAINES: Quite frankly. And when we say it, it's as if we're subconsciously admitting that there's an un-biological alternative to being a man or a woman or a male or a female or girl or boy. And there's not.
ROGAN: Right. There’s not. Did you ever see that interview where that bike racer is talking to one of the late night hosts and they were asking about—
GAINES: Veronica Ivy.
ROGAN: —Biological women. And she's like, "Well, I am a biological human being, and I am a woman, so I'm a biological woman." And the host is just like—
GAINES: “Yep.”
ROGAN: Fucking cowards. You're not saying anything? None of that seems nuts to you?
GAINES: And that's the game that's being played here, right? You've give an inch, they take a mile. Which is why I've really realized now how powerful our language is and the words that we use. I'm very particular about what I say. I won't call—I try and just call Thomas "Thomas." But people can legally change their name and like, whatever. Whatever.
ROGAN: But that's a guy.
GAINES: But I'm not calling him "she." I'm not calling him “her."
ROGAN: It’s silly.
GAINES: It's silly. And I won't say "trans woman" because again, that's admitting that this is some sort of subcategory of a woman. He's just a man.
ROGAN: The Thais have had it right forever. They don't pretend that they're women. They said, "I'm a lady boy.”
GAINES: "I'm a lady boy.”
ROGAN: And that's like, okay. It's an accepted category.
GAINES: Yeah. No, exactly. Transparency. 

We’ll fast-forward through a bit where Gaines explains that she’s been working with the anti-trans group Independent Women’s Forum to develop anti-trans legislation, bragging that such legislation has already passed in four states. Here’s Rogan on the backlash to this legislation:

ROGAN: Well, it's requiring a lot more pushback than most people are willing to do. Because the activists on the side of promoting this nonsense are very loud, and they've made it their entire identity to get this across. And they also connect themselves to the idea of this air-quotes "progress" being ubiquitous, that it spreads across the country. And this is for them a sign that the world is moving in the right direction. So they're like vehemently opposed to any pushback against this. And they're really aggressive. But everyone on the side that's like, "this is fucking crazy," most of those people have jobs and families and obligations and they're fucking busy. And they do not have time to sit at a council meeting with these fucking lunatics, and have them scream into microphones, "You're committing trans genocide.” And you're like, "Oh, okay, what the fuck.”
What is this? What is this and how did this get started? It's like a zombie disease that made its way across the entire country. Well, who got bit first? Can we figure out what the fuck happened here? Who's doing this? How is it possible that anyone with children, anyone who's a father, who has daughters, is okay with this? How is that possible? This is nonsense at the highest level. And even though it's completely—it's not like close. You know, it's not like, "Well, I kind of see their point." It's not even remotely close. And yet it has been taken up by a giant swath of the greatest country in the world has ever known. Like that is very bizarre.
What I was gonna say earlier is Douglas Murray, who's the British intellectual, he's a brilliant guy. And he said this—he started saying it years ago, he's like, whenever a civilization is in collapse, they become obsessed with gender. It becomes a thing. It was with the Greeks and the Romans. It's like, it seems to be like a symptom. [Ed. note: Rogan has previously cited this argument by Murray, a neoconservative and Islamophobe.]
GAINES: A step in the process. 
ROGAN: Yeah. It's a thing like, oh, see those hives that you have? Oh, you're infected. Oh, you're sick. Oh, everyone's changing their gender and like 50% of kids in some colleges are L-B-G-T-Q-P-2-Q-I-A? What? How is it 50 percent? This is a fucking mind virus. Like, what is going on here? And what Douglas has said is that you could find this throughout history
GAINES: Of course. And, and honestly, if you take all of the different little pieces of what we're seeing, especially as it pertains to like the cultural issues that are really plaguing this country, if you look at the denial of objective truth, the shift in our language like we mentioned, the breakdown of faith. We used to be a country that proudly said "in God we trust" and "one nation under God." You look at the breakdown of the nuclear family and really pinning parents and kids against each other. You look at the breakdown of our freedoms, such as the freedom of speech. You look at the propaganda that's being spread through the media. I mean, the list goes on of all of these different little things. If you put them together, it points in one direction. And that direction, not to sound conspiracist or crazy here, is truly Marxism.

I’ll spare you the following section in which Rogan suggests that Covid vaccines are unnecessary for young healthy people, complains about immigrants, and asks Gaines if she believes that “they” (unclear who) are allowing mass undocumented immigration in order to “import voters”  (déjà vu) and “break unions.” Let it be said, however, that this is violent, extremist rhetoric from Rogan, part and parcel of the trans genocide he denies is happening even as he sits right across from one of its proponents. The man is a menace. He needs to be stopped. 

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