Piers Morgan debates nonbinary couple on whether he can be a black woman or an elephant
Wednesday morning, Piers Morgan engaged in a debate with two nonbinary people on Good Morning Britain, at times appearing combative and defensive in asserting his ideas of gender.
Rather than focus on the reality of the couple's gender, Morgan posed a series of slippery-slope hypotheticals to his guests, Fox and Owl. Morgan wondered whether, because Fox and Owl identify as nonbinary, he was then free to identify as a black woman or an elephant.
"You've got to respect what people want to be called," Fox said to Morgan.
"Why do I have to?" Morgan responded, to which Owl reminded Morgan that it's about respect.
"If I turned around right now and I said to you, 'I am a black woman,'" Morgan began, "If I just decided to identify myself as a completely different skin color to the one that I am, that would clearly be ridiculous, right?"
Morgan's guests pointed out that Morgan didn't identify as a black woman, as opposed to his two guests who actually did identify as nonbinary.
Morgan contended that he was taking their "logic to its logical conclusion." Morgan, who claimed to be using logic, later asked if he could identify as an elephant just because he wanted to.
"Can I be an elephant?" he asks. "Literally say I'm now an elephant and do I get afforded elephant rights?"
Throughout the interview, Morgan made several insensitive remarks, claiming that trans identity was a "contagion" among school children. He also asked the two several invasive questions about their bodies and inquired about whether they had gender affirming procedures or sexual reassignment surgery.
In 2014, Janet Mock challenged journalists who fall into this line of invasive questioning during a Fusion segment. In the interview, Mock showed how uncomfortable a cisgender person might become having to answer questions most trans people field regularly.
Rather than ask questions, Morgan appeared combative and often made incorrect assumptions about the trans experience.
Morgan told his guests he was "happy to be persuaded if it makes logical sense."
He asked questions about gender markers on passports and assumed information about his guests' bodies. He asked why he had to use the singular "they" pronoun instead of "he" or "she."
When his guests tried to bring up the reality of transgender suicide, rather than show empathy, Morgan asked them for an exact figure on how many trans youth in the U.K. committed suicide in the last year.
"I heard it was like two or three people," Morgan said.
According to a 2014 U.K. survey, 48% of trans people under 26 have attempted suicide, and 30% said they had made an attempt in the year prior to the survey. A 2014 U.S. survey from the Williams Institute and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention showed that 41% of transgender people in the U.S. had attempted suicide at some time in their life.
Morgan's combativeness leaked over onto Twitter, where he sparred with users who called him out for his behavior.
In his tweets, Morgan said that he doesn't support nonbinary-identified people, but that he does support marriage equality and transgender rights.
"I don't agree with or understand 'nonbinary gender neutrality," he wrote in a tweet.
Though Morgan doesn't "agree" with gender neutrality, the movement for gender neutral rights has gained steam. In December, Sara Kelly Keenan became the second U.S. citizen to be granted a non-binary status in her home state of California. In her home state of New York, she was granted an intersex birth certificate. Fifty-two-year-old Jamie Shupe was the first person to be granted a legal nonbinary status in June.