In our 24-hour news cycle, it seems like conflict can rear its head at any moment — and be easily forgotten by the next. That seems be what a certain TV host is going for: Mario Lopez responded to that transgender kids comment backlash, and he’s hitting all the right notes. After a June interview with The Candace Owens Show resurfaced this week, Lopez was slammed for comments about the “trend” of letting young kids pick their gender. After a brief flurry of Twitter responses urging the host to educate himself on the issues, Lopez vowed to do just that.
Speaking exclusively to People, Lopez released the following comment: “The comments I made were ignorant and insensitive, and I now have a deeper understanding of how hurtful they were. I have been and always will be an ardent supporter of the LGBTQ community, and I am going to use this opportunity to better educate myself. Moving forward I will be more informed and thoughtful.”
Lopez’s original comments were part of a conversation with Candace Owens, who brought up the “new trend” of celebrities “saying that their child is picking their gender.” Clearly, Owens was not on board with the practice — and Lopez was quick to agree. “If you’re 3 years old and you’re saying you’re feeling a certain way […] I just think it’s dangerous as a parent to make that determination then — ‘Okay, well then you’re going to be a boy or a girl,’ whatever the case may be. It’s sort of alarming and my gosh, I just think about the repercussions later on,” the Saved By The Bell star responded.
I don’t think @MarioLopezExtra should be ‘canceled’. But I do believe he should be given the opportunity to learn why his comments are harmful to trans youth and their parents. Mario, I’m ready to talk when you are.
— Karamo Brown (@Karamo) July 31, 2019
Taking the lead on condemning Lopez’s remarks was Queer Eye star Karamo Brown, who took to Twitter saying he was “disappointed” to read the star’s comments. “I don’t think @MarioLopezExtra should be ‘canceled,'” Brown concluded. “But I do believe he should be given the opportunity to learn why his comments are harmful to trans youth and their parents. Mario, I’m ready to talk when you are.”
Other celebrities — including Wade Davis II, Holly Figueroa O’Reilly, Parker Molloy — weighed in, agreeing that the key issue was Lopez educating himself on the important issues. They noted that Owens and Lopez had also conflated sexuality with gender in their conversation, with Owens claiming that her early years as a tomboy proved that young kids know nothing about “sexuality.” Critics also pointed to the fact that parents were unlikely to confuse their kid trying something on “for fun” and a real sense that they are “living in the wrong body.”
Of our 5 kids, 2 are queer. They both came out in their early teens but we knew who they were way, way before then.
Parents can tell the different between a 3 year old who pretends to be another gender for fun and one who feels they are living in the wrong body. STFU Mario Lopez https://t.co/pKXketgy6P
— Holly Figueroa O'Reilly (@AynRandPaulRyan) July 31, 2019
Not giving #MarioLopez a pass but CERTAINLY giving him a 2nd chance.
He’s a nice guy.
A loving Dad.
He made a mistake.
A child changing genders at an early age is a complex issue.
Help him understand.
Everybody pouncing needs to chill.
I’m more offended he did Candace Owens show.
— Billy Baldwin (@BillyBaldwin) July 31, 2019
Dear Mario Lopez,
Transphobic parents are the danger not children being their truest selves.
Too many parents terrorize their children by forcing them into these gender boxes and limiting their expression. If you're doing this, your parenting sucks.https://t.co/szwUxJG8UQ
— Raquel Willis (@RaquelWillis_) July 31, 2019
It’s worth noting that Twitter also saw backlash to Lopez’s apology, from those who felt the star was perfectly justified in his comments. Many Twitter users with more conservative views were appalled at the criticism Lopez had received, and saw it as a sign of our over-reactive “outrage mob” culture. “I never thought I’d live in a world where Mario Lopez was being attacked for saying toddlers can’t choose their gender,” one tweet read. “Just throw this whole society away and start over,” another suggested.”
I never thought I’d live in a world where Mario Lopez was being attacked for saying toddlers can’t choose their gender.
— Ashley StClair 🇺🇸 (@stclairashley) July 31, 2019
I see leftists criticizing Mario Lopez for saying 3 year olds can't choose their gender. I haven't seen a single leftist actually explain why he's wrong. That's because they can't explain. Their position is delusional, insane, anti-scientific, superstitious, and morally deranged.
— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) July 31, 2019
We’ve reached a truly insane place in American culture where a celebrity has to apologize for saying that maybe a three year-old child is not mature enough to make decisions about their gender that will irreparably impact them the rest of their life. https://t.co/Ed8gMhKSIC
— Andrew T. Walker (@andrewtwalk) July 31, 2019
So, Mario Lopez is being attacked for saying parents shouldn’t raise their 3-year-old kids as transgenders.
Just throw this whole society away and start over. This is insane.
— Alana Mastrangelo (@ARmastrangelo) July 31, 2019
In a statement to People, GLAAD had this to say about Lopez’s comments: Medical and psychological experts, and parents of children who are transgender, have long discredited the ideas that Mario Lopez shared last month. The real ‘dangerous action’ is when someone with a public platform uses bad science to speak against a marginalized and vulnerable group of children.”
Someone vowing to educate themselves further on issues they hope to address publicly should always be taken as a positive — regardless of whether you agree that earlier comments were off-putting. If everyone on Twitter could vow the same, perhaps everyone’s feed would look less like a shouting match. For now, sadly, the two sides seem no closer to seeing one another’s point.