Fox News hosts Tucker Carlson and Jeannine Pirro made anti-trans attacks against Adm. Rachel Levine and University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas during the network’s March 21 prime-time programming.
The two Fox hosts repeatedly misgendered Levine and Thomas, with Carlson claiming Levine’s gender identity is “outrageous” and meant to “degrade the rest of us.” Pirro in turn asserted that Thomas’ participation in college athletics is part of greater efforts by “the woke left” to “destroy women’s sports.” (Misgendering is when someone refers to a trans person as the incorrect gender -- it is a form of harassment that goes against best-practice journalistic standards.)
Carlson’s and Pirro’s anti-trans attacks are part of Fox News' extensive history of promoting hateful smears against trans people, including baselessly fearmongering that accepting trans youth will lead to children being able to “consent for sexual activity.” This extreme anti-trans rhetoric is central to Fox’s business model and it has helped fuel the rise in right-wing attacks on trans people. Media outlets and advocates have noted that these attacks have increased -- at a time the Republican Party is seeking to make gains in the 2022 elections.
Tucker Carlson and his guest repeatedly dehumanized and misgendered Levine
During the March 21 edition of his prime-time Fox News show, Carlson dedicated an entire segment to intentionally misgendering Levine, going so far as to claim that the idea of respecting a trans person’s gender identity is “fringe, and dangerous, and crazy, and the historians will be shocked” by it.
Carlson’s attacks were prompted by USA Today naming Levine as one of a dozen women recognized as part of its Women of the Year program. Levine is both the highest-ranking openly transgender official in the U.S. government and the country’s first woman four-star officer, serving as an admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.
Nonetheless, Carlson and his guest Babylon Bee CEO Seth Dillon disparaged Levine and decried Twitter’s decision to lock The Babylon Bee out of its account for posting a tweet that misgendered Levine. Dillon proclaimed that he would not comply with Twitter’s request to delete the tweet, saying, “We don’t believe that facts are hate speech.” Carlson said, “I hope it ends with Twitter being shut down by Congress.”
Notably, this was Carlson’s second segment on Levine being named as one of USA Today’s Women of the Year. On March 17, Carlson and The Daily Wire’s Candace Owens attacked Levine, with Owens speculating that Levine’s recognition by a newspaper points to a government “Marxist” plot to take down “the nuclear family.”
Jeannine Pirro and the Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh denigrated Thomas and claimed her swim career is “part of an overall war on truth”
Later in the night, while guest-hosting The Ingraham Angle, Pirro repeatedly misgendered Thomas and gave her guest The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh a platform to claim that Thomas’ college swim career is “part of an overall war on truth.”
Walsh is an extreme anti-trans pundit who has made a career of promoting vitriol about trans people, including falsely comparing best practice medical care for trans youth to “molestation and rape” and calling doctors who serve trans youth “pedophiles.”
During the segment, Pirro and Walsh disparaged Thomas for competing in the NCAA swimming championship on March 17. She raced in three individual events at the competition, winning the 500-yard freestyle and placing fifth and eighth in the 200 and 100-yard freestyle, respectively.
Pirro conveniently ignored Thomas’ fifth and eighth place finishes and instead focused on her allegedly “dominating the women’s swimming circuit,” claiming that “before you even get into the race, you know what's going to happen.”