Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (2014–…): Season 2, Episode 19 - Transgender Rights - full transcript

John discusses US Supreme Court decisions on gay marriage and Obamacre, former President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, transgender rights and leap second.

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LAST WEEK TONIGHT WITH JOHN OLIVER

Welcome, welcome, welcome
to "Last Week Tonight."

Thank you for joining us.
I'm John Oliver.

Just time for a quick recap
of the week.

And we begin
here in New York with Pride,

the day that makes every color
that's not on the rainbow flag

feel like a worthless sack of shit.

Now, this year, there was even more
to celebrate than usual.

Back to the big news of the day...

the US Supreme Court ruling
five to four

to legalize same-sex marriage
in the entire country.



That obviously includes the 14 states
where it was against the law.

Yes ! Finally.

Finally, all across America,
anyone can get married...

anyone except, of course,
for guys who own snakes.

They still can't, but that's on them.

That's an actual
lifestyle choice, Gary.

And look, we don't have time
to get into all the responses.

Basically, if you thought
someone would be happy

or angry at the decision,
they probably were.

But the award for greatest moment
in global Pride celebrations

actually had nothing
to do with gay marriage

and everything to do
with the idiocy of CNN.

Because if you
were watching them yesterday,

you may have seen this.



And this just in to CNN:

An unnerving sight today at
a London gay pride celebration...

an ISIS flag among
a sea of rainbow colors.

I seem to be the only person
who has spotted this.

And nobody seems
to be raising any questions

or pointing it out.

Yeah, I'll... tell you why
they weren't raising any questions.

That's not the ISIS flag.

That's a flag with dildos
and butt plugs all over it.

And yet... and yet,

for more than seven
spectacular minutes,

CNN had it onscreen,

even calling one
of their terrorism experts

to try to figure out why ISIS

might be marching with
the gay community through London.

Which did seem surprising.

Now it turns out...
it's a full day later now...

and they've still not addressed
that mistake on air,

probably because it would be
just too embarrassing

to have a professional journalist say,

"I'm sorry. Despite working at CNN,"

"it seems I don't know what
a dildo looks like. I don't know."

So let's... let's move on.

Let's move on to the Supreme Court,

America's nine
most fascinating legal scholars,

or nine most boring wizards.

Marriage equality wasn't actually
their only major ruling this week.

Today, in a landmark
six-to-three decision,

the Supreme Court voted
to uphold nationwide subsidies

to help poor and middle-class Americans
purchase health insurance

under the Affordable Care Act.

It's amazing. Somehow...
Somehow, against all the odds,

Obamacare is still alive.

It's the... it's the legislative
equivalent of Keith Richards.

It really could have died
in so many ways by now,

but I'm definitely glad
it's still around.

There was genuine concern

that this case could have dismantled
Obamacare completely,

and if it had, it would have been
for the dumbest possible reason.

The challenge was based
on these four words...

quote, "established by the state."

Opponents said the phrase made federal
subsidies illegal in certain states.

Yes, "established by the State"

could have been
the four most damaging words

since "Godzilla just joined ISIS"
or "piranhas now have legs"

or "Mom's on Facebook now."

Luckily... luckily, the Supreme Court
realized that in context

"the State" meant "the government,"
and not "one of the 50 states."

But Chief Justice Roberts did point out
that the law could have been clearer.

Roberts acknowledged the law

"contains more than a few
examples of inartful drafting."

But he said the opponents' approach
would lead to a "calamitous result."

And that's true... "inartful drafting"

put 6.4 million people's health
coverage at risk, which is insane,

because language
is inartfully drafted all the time.

For example, let me show
you an actual banner

supporting England's
Women's World Cup team this year...

"Come On Our Girls !"

That sentence really could have
used a comma.

Just throw a comma in there.

But... but like the Supreme Court,

you fundamentally understand
the intention behind it.

Nobody is arguing that we should
literally do what it says.

Now, this landmark decision

inevitably drew
a dissent from Antonin Scalia,

a pizzeria chef statue
that came to life

but never acquired
human emotions or empathy.

And Scalia was emphatic
in his response to Roberts.

His opinion sparked a blistering
dissent by Justice Antonin Scalia,

who took the unusual step
of summarizing it from the bench,

calling the court's reasoning "absurd,"
"interpretive jiggery-pokery,"

and "pure applesauce."

I'm sorry. "Jiggery-pokery" ?

"Pure applesauce" ?

Are you a justice
or a Victorian dowager

writing an angry letter to "Prim &
Proper Ladies' Monthly" magazine ?

Listen, Scalia, let me answer you in
terms that I think you'll understand.

Because, yes, the court's
ruling was a bit frippity-frappity.

But I say this... if it takes a touch
of goofery and baba ghanoush

to help people... to help keep the
people of this great nation healthy,

well, then, by hiblet or by giblet,
bring on the hoople and zizzle-zazzle,

because that's the kind of country I
want to live in. I said good day, sir !

Blueberries !
Blueberries and custard, sir !

Blueberries and custard.

And lastly...
lastly this week, Ukraine,

currently Russia's
fastest-growing import.

You... may remember ex-Ukrainian
president Viktor Yanukovych

fled the country last year
after a popular uprising.

He was accused of embezzlement
and corruption,

perhaps best symbolized
by his lavish wooden house,

which, I think we can all agree,

is what termites think about
when they masturbate.

It... This thing contained
excesses both small and large,

from a golden loaf of bread

to this private zoo
featuring ostriches.

Well, this week, Yanukovych reemerged
for an interview to explain

the existence
of his private ostrich zoo.

That I supported the ostriches ?
What's wrong with that ?

You supported the ostriches.

Yes, they just lived there.

What... what do you mean,
"they just lived there" ?

Ostriches are not native to Ukraine.
They can't have just been there.

They're ostriches, not Kate Bosworth.

Where... where did she come from ?

Was she in something at some point ?

Was she in anything at any point ?

I... I think she might
have always been here.

And to... to that reporter's credit,
he did not let that answer slide.

Excuse me,
but it's a little hard to believe

that the president of the country
lives in a place

where there just happened
to be ostriches wandering around.

No, they weren't just wandering around.
It was a totally separate territory.

No, it was one territory.
I went there myself.

Okay, it was one territory.

But I have 1.7 hectares
attached to my home.

I did not have time to be there.
I was working.

Even though I do love animals.

Okay, no. No !

Because even if you love animals,
no one loves ostriches.

No one even likes them.
Look at this thing.

It looks like a shaved ballerina
wearing a merkin.

It looks like a cat toy
fucked a giraffe.

And look, no offense, ostriches,
but this is not the face of an animal.

It's a very old cactus
that happens to have a vagina.

That's a fact. That's an animal fact.

Now, interestingly,

since Yanukovych abandoned
the property, it's opened to visitors,

which has brought
some problems of its own

for a male ostrich named Igoliak,
as this Ukrainian TV report shows.

The zoo technician says the visitors
annoy the ostrich Igoliak very much,

and even his fertility
has fallen because of them.

He could possibly manage to breed,

but it seems he is too stressed
and can't do it.

Yes, apparently,

because Yanukovych did not socialize
his bird monsters properly,

they're now too nervous
to fuck in public,

which, frankly, is yet another tragedy
for the people of Ukraine.

Because we researched it, and
ostrich sex is absolutely hilarious.

Look at this... first, the male ostrich
sits on the female like she's a futon,

then flaps around arrhythmically,
waving from side to side,

while the poor female, who, frankly,
could not be less into this,

just sits there
and waits until he's done,

at which point the male ostrich
triumphantly flounces off

to go and tell his friends
all about it.

And what better metaphor...
could there possibly be

for Yanukovych and Ukraine ?

He just plopped down, had his way with
the country, and then flounced off,

leaving it wondering
what the fuck just happened.

And now this.

And now,

a few more seconds of hot ostrich sex.

Moving on, moving on.

This... this has clearly been
a big week for the LGBT community.

But it's also been a big year
for the "T" part of that equation,

from Caitlyn Jenner's
"Vanity Fair" cover

to TV shows like "Transparent,"

to another small milestone
just this Friday.

Actress Laverne Cox
marked another milestone

with a drop of a curtain
at Madame Tussauds San Francisco.

Now that is a big step forward

for transgender Americans,
and it's frankly about time.

Because bear in mind,
it came after the same milestone

for spider Americans and Wookies.

But for all the strides transgender
people have made lately,

let's not get too complacent
about how far we've come,

because they still face
a host of obstacles.

Even when the news media
are trying to be supportive,

they can make dumb mistakes.

Your private parts are
different now, aren't they ?

I don't want to talk about it because
it's still... it's really personal.

Don't you feel funny
with the wrong genitalia ?

Not as a joke... you stand up
in the women's bathroom.

- You've got breast implants ?

I, you know, I...

They're tasteful,
whatever's going on there.

So if I saw you undressed,

you would look like a woman
to me, totally. Yes ?

What are you doing ?

It is no more okay to ask transgender
people about their sex organs

than it would be to ask Jimmy Carter
whether or not he's circumcised,

which, by the way, he is.

Smooth like a boiled carrot.

And... and sometimes...
don't think about that...

and sometimes the media's confusion
is even more basic than that,

as in the case of this Arizona
weatherman just two weeks ago.

And a transgender woman
says she was kicked out of a Tempe bar.

Let's bring it back
to that earlier headline.

Now what is a transgender woman ?

- Yes ?
- What does that even mean now ?

- Okay.
- Do we need a break ?

She used to be a guy.

But now is a woman.

- This is... this is... Okay.
- So weird.

Aren't you just saying a woman then ?
I can't even keep up anymore !

Holy shit.

I really hope that's also how
he reports the weather.

"Wait... wait ! It used to be rainy
and now it's sunny ?"

"So... so now it's just sunny ?
I can't even keep up anymore !"

"I can't... This doesn't
make my head work."

Look. Look, though,

let's give him
the benefit of the doubt.

Maybe for him and for many people,
this is new information.

Maybe he's thinking about
transgender issues for the first time

and he needs a minute
to try and understand it.

So let's take that minute
to fill in that bamboozled weatherman

and everyone else
on some basic details.

Transgender people
have a gender identity

that differs from the one
they were assigned at birth,

and that gender identity is not
the same as sexual orientation.

Gender identity is who you are.
Sexual orientation is who you love.

Some transgender people
do undergo hormone therapy

or sex reassignment surgery as
part of their transition, some do not.

And interestingly, their decision
on this matter is, medically speaking,

none of your fucking business.

And if you're still wondering,
"Well, hold on, hold on."

"What... what do I call a transgender
person ? It's so confusing."

Actually it's pretty simple. Call
them whatever they want to be called.

You can do it. We do it all the time.

Think of it this way.
David Evans woke up one day and said,

"Everyone call me The Edge."
And we all went, "Fine, The Edge.

Are we talking the noun or the verb ?"

And that's... it's not just that.
It's not just that.

Over the past 20 years, we've agreed
to call this man Puff Daddy,

P. Diddy, just Diddy,
and now Puff Daddy again,

and most people don't even like him.

And... and here's the thing.
Here's the important thing.

It's genuinely crucial
that we get this right.

Cause there are more transgender people
in the US than you might realize.

One study estimates that nearly 700,000
American adults are transgender.

That's more than
the population of Boston,

and you probably
know someone from Boston.

I'll give you a clue... it was the guy
who wore a Bruins jersey

to your sister's wedding.

And while... while a handful
of transgender people

have been winning awards or appearing
on magazine covers,

the community at large has been facing
some staggering challenges.

A 2011 survey by the National Center
for Transgender Equality

found 41% of transgender people
had attempted suicide.

They're nearly four times more likely

to make less than $10,000 a year
compared to the general population.

78% of those surveyed reported
harassment

during K-through-12 schooling,

35% reported physical assault,
and 12% were sexually assaulted.

That is terrible.

Those statistics are so depressing,

it's enough to make you angry
at the very concept of numbers.

"Fuck you, symbols meant
to represent a specific value !"

"You're the absolute worst !
The worst !"

Look, look,
we've clearly got work to do.

Because when you're transgender,

pretty much any interaction
with bureaucracy

can be humiliatingly difficult.

Just take what happened
to two transgender women

when they went to the DMV
in West Virginia.

Both women were asked
to remove all their jewelry,

makeup and wigs before the
DMV would photograph them.

They're saying that I need
to fulfill certain...

a certain look that they
are designating means "male."

And that I'm, you know, hiding
who I am, which I'm absolutely not.

Both women say they were
also referred to as "it."

Words can't explain
the humiliation I felt that day.

That was the worst thing
in 52 years of my life

I have ever felt.

Listen, I'm not saying anyone
has a good DMV experience,

but that is the worst
I have ever heard.

And for the record,

you get to pick virtually everything
else on your driver's license.

They ask you your weight.
They don't weigh you like a prize hog.

Plus, the whole idea
of a driver's license photo

is to present how you look
from day to day.

That's why DMV employees
tell you not to smile,

because they can't imagine
anyone whose normal existence

involves happiness in any form.

And even in... even in organizations
that have seemed willing to change,

that change has come
frustratingly slowly.

Take the military.

Both the secretary of defense
and President Obama have indicated

they are open to transgender troops
being able to serve.

And yet, they're still
banned from enlisting

because of weirdly archaic restrictions

on things like "defects of the
genitalia such as change of sex"

and "psychosexual conditions
including but not limited

to transsexualism and transvestism."

Our current recruitment poster
is essentially,

"I want you, maybe, after we talk about
your genitals for a bit."

"I know that's weird,
but for the moment,"

"this is apparently
how we do things."

And yet, even despite
those restrictions on enlistment,

by one estimate, there are currently
15,000 transgender service members.

And while you can be
discharged for being transgender,

those rules are enforced inconsistently

depending on your branch
of service and commanding officer.

Meaning experiences can vary wildly.

For some, like Logan Ireland,
it can be great.

What I like about this deployment
is I can be my authentic self.

I'm just another guy.

Whereas back home,
I'm still seen as female,

and I go by female regs and standards.

Here in Afghanistan, a war zone,

it's like a vacation to me,
because I can be myself

in such an austere environment.

It is not a great sign
for how we treat transgender people

that Afghanistan is
"a place where you can be yourself."

That is the least likely
tourism slogan for Afghanistan.

"Well, I'd put it right behind
Water Park Capital of the World

and Birthplace of the Twerk."

But compare that

with the experience
of Captain Jacob Eleazer

of the Army National Guard,

who faced discharge
for being transgender

despite his own commander's support

and the fact he was being
awarded a medal.

The thing that stuck with me the most

is as they were pinning that Army
commendation medal on me,

my regimental commander said,

"Thank you for everything that you've
done for our regiment, Jacob."

And used... used my real name.

And I... I can't express

just the emotion of that juxtaposition.

It's like you're kicking me out, but...

you're acknowledging me for myself and
giving me an award at the same time.

That's utterly ridiculous.

They gave him an award
and then tried to kick him out.

It's pretty much what Hollywood
did to Cuba Gooding, Jr.,

and that wasn't okay either.

But... but this is the big problem.

Because even when people say the right
things about the transgender community,

too often, practical change
fails to follow.

And perhaps the perfect embodiment
of this concerns bathrooms.

We all use them.

As the good book tells us,
"Everyone Poops."

Or, as it's known in England,
"Everyone Poops But the Queen."

She has people do it for her.

Across the country,
there have been efforts by lawmakers

to fight nondiscrimination ordinances

with so-called bathroom bills,
like this one in Arizona.

It's a new show-me-your-papers
bill for Arizona.

The sex on your birth certificate
would have to match

the sex of the bathroom
or locker room that you use.

The target ? Transgender men
and women here in Arizona.

Six months in jail, $2,500 fine,
for just going in to pee.

$2,500 fine for peeing
in the wrong place.

Look, unless you happen to urinate
a 1989 Chateau Petrus,

you're not even going
to break even on that deal.

In the most recent session,
at least 13 bathroom bills

have been introduced
in state legislatures,

and the reasoning behind them
can be pretty insulting.

Just listen to presidential candidate
Mike Huckabee.

We are now in city after city
watching ordinances that say

that your seven-year-old daughter,
if she goes into the restroom,

cannot be offended,
and you can't be offended,

if she is greeted there
by a 42-year-old man

who feels more like a woman
than he does a man.

I wish someone had told me
when I was in high school

that I could have felt like a woman

when it came time
to take showers in PE.

I'm pretty sure I would have
found my feminine side

and said, "Coach, I think I'd rather
shower with the girls today."

You're laughing because it
sounds so ridiculous, doesn't it ?

There's something inherently wrong

with forcing little children
to be a part of this social experiment.

No. But there is something
inherently wrong

with forcing us to listen
to your fucked-up daydreams

about all the sex crimes you would have
committed as a teenager

had you just been able
to find a legal loophole.

That's weird.

And that... that kind of baseless
fear-mongering is everywhere.

It even turned up in a campaign ad

when Gainesville, Florida, was
trying to pass one of these bills.

On January 28, 2008,
your City Commission made this legal.

Okay, let's... let's break
that bullshit down.

Because first,
assaulting children is still illegal.

Secondly, someone abusing
a nondiscrimination ordinance

to assault someone in
a bathroom is almost unheard of.

It's a borderline imaginary crime,

like dragon rustling
or space bestiality.

Sure, it's terrible,
but it doesn't really happen.

Also, forcing transgender
people into certain bathrooms

can actually be much more disruptive,

as activist Michael Hughes,
a transgender man,

showed with this photo of himself

looking understandably awkward
in a ladies' room.

Because there are many places
that Michael would fit in.

A tattoo parlor in Reno,

playing steel guitar
in a Johnny Cash tribute band,

or on the label
of his own barbeque sauce.

But a women's bathroom ?
Not so much.

Besides, it is so much easier
for everyone

when people are allowed to use the
bathroom matching their gender identity

rather than one that might match
the genitalia they were born with.

That is why the little pictures
on bathroom doors

are stereotypical
representations of men and women,

and not biologically accurate
depictions of penises and vaginas.

Because that would be
troubling for children.

"Mommy ! Mommy ?

"Do I go with the one
with the pouty slug"

"or the angry goat skull ?"

"I'm scared."

And yet, legislators have even tried
to enforce these bills

in high schools,
with damaging consequences.

Take the case of Henry Brousseau,
a transgender high school student

who spoke in opposition to a proposed
bathroom bill in Kentucky.

Even though I've been living
as a male for some time,

I've been... been accepted by
my friends and family as male,

I was being forced to use
the girls' bathroom

at my school until very recently.

Because the school administration
did not support my gender identity

by letting me use the restrooms
concordant with my gender identity,

the kids at my school bullied me.

The kids thought that
because the administration

didn't support my gender
identity, they didn't have to either.

And that is the whole point.

Official rules can end up
legitimizing prejudice.

And besides, teenagers really
don't need extra ideas

for how to make
each other's lives miserable.

That's what they do.

"Sit on your own, Becca."

"Side ponytails are
so five nevers ago."

And look, as Henry finished his speech,

it actually seemed like he'd really
connected with the legislators.

If you don't know
a transgender kid already,

you do know... you do now.
You know me, Henry.

Please let me know how I can be
of any further assistance,

and thank you so much
for your time today.

And please vote no on Senate Bill 76.

I educated myself a lot today
and I appreciate the testimony.

You should be proud of yourself

for being able to stand
in front of this committee

and be so articulate in your comments.

Henry, I love you, man.

I appreciate you.
I appreciate your courage.

I can't really imagine that anyone else
in this room has the kind of courage

that it took for you to come
and testify today.

Okay, okay. But "I love you, man"
is a little much.

I love Henry, too, but he's not
the best man at your wedding.

He's a teenage boy trying
to take a shit in the men's room.

And... and it's worth noting,

once they were done
patting Henry on the back

and then patting themselves
for patting Henry,

all three of those lawmakers
voted to advance the bill

to force him into bathrooms
where he's bullied.

Now, thankfully,
that particular bill never became law.

But that dynamic of praising
a transgender person's courage

and then not actually supporting them
speaks to the fact

that we are weirdly comfortable
celebrating transgender people

while simultaneously
dehumanizing them at the DMV,

pinning awards to them
as we drum them out of the military,

and constantly quizzing them
about their genitals.

And look, this is a civil rights issue.

And if you are not willing
to support transgender people

for their sake,
at least do it for your own.

Because we've been through this before.
We know how this thing ends.

If you take the anti-civil rights side

and deny people access
to something they're entitled to,

history is not going to be kind to you.

There is no biopic where Liam Neeson
kicks the shit out of a suffragist.

There's... there's...
there's not a stamp

featuring George Wallace
at the schoolhouse door.

And you are not going to get a monument

that says at the base of it,
"He told people where to shit."

And now this.

And now, this is not
CNBC's first rodeo.

You've done this for a while.
Not your first Disney on Ice rodeo.

It's not his first rodeo.

The company that...
for whom this is not their first rodeo.

- This is not your first rodeo.
- Not our first rodeo.

This isn't your first rodeo.

This isn't your first rodeo.

I was reading your resume here.
This is not your first rodeo.

I would use the
"not the first rodeo" thing.

This is not Peltz's first rodeo.

It wasn't his first rodeo.

Not Howard Schultz's first rodeo.

Not my first radio... rodeo.

You ever been to a rodeo ?

I'm gonna say that I have,
because I use the expression

that this isn't my first rodeo.

And now...

And finally tonight,
we look at time.

Time... it's the actual thing
that separates men from the boys.

And this week... this week,

there is going to be
an unusual timekeeping event.

A leap second is coming.
Every few years,

an extra second is added
to account for a mismatch

between clocks
and the Earth's rotation.

That's right. This Tuesday night,
there is going to be a leap second.

Just before midnight,
Coordinated Universal Time,

the clock will go from 11:59:59
to 11:59:60,

which sounds less like an actual time

and more like how a puffer fish
describes his ideal woman.

"She's a perfect 11:59:60."

"Real narrow, round,
and then even rounder."

And look, I know an extra second
does not seem like that big a deal.

But you can get a lot done in a second.

You can spoil the twist endings
of classic movies.

I'll show you. Dude's dead.

Soze is Spacey.

Kitchen remodel still in progress,
but very much on track.

The point... the point is...
the point is...

we want you to enjoy
your extra second on Tuesday.

and uploaded some of the greatest
one-second videos

you could possibly imagine.
Let me give you a quick taste.

Here is an upside-down sloth
making a weird sound.

That's a great second.
You just spent that second very well.

I'll give you another.
Here is Mariah Carey's dog

getting into a fight
with Mariah Carey's cat

during the taping of Mariah
Carey's "Cribs" episode.

They...

That's... Come on.

That's arguably a more important
second than the Big Bang was.

which, yes, we bought
before we said it out loud,

and you can enjoy
such magnificent micro moments

as Bobby Cannavale acting the shit
out of the words, "leap second."

Leap second !

Bravo. Bravo, Bobby.

And look, if you're thinking,
well, hold on,

if we all go to that website at the
same time on Tuesday, won't it crash ?

That seems unlikely. Nothing like that
has every famously happened before.

That's our show. We're off next week.

We'll be back after that.
Thank you so much ! Good night !

Leap... second ?

Leap second.

Leap second !

LAST WEEK TONIGHT WITH JOHN OLIVER
Season 2 Episode 19