“I don’t quite have words for this yet but I will someday,” Van Ness, 36, wrote via his Instagram Story on Wednesday, September 27. The upload included a screenshot of the title card for Van Ness’ Monday, September 25, appearance on Shepard’s “Armchair Expert” podcast.
Van Ness — who is nonbinary and uses all pronouns — also reposted a video from activist Alicia Roth Weigel, whose work he referenced during the interview. “Important message from @xoxy_alicia,” Van Ness wrote.
“My lovely friend JVN was out here defending intersex people, and it really sucks that they have to be put in that position of having to be an encyclopedia on every marginalized community to fight the misinformation,” Weigel said. “And I appreciate their work that they do to lift us up so much and help clarify things.”
Weigel noted that Van Ness got some of the facts wrong about Weigel’s experience, but they had a conversation where Van Ness apologized and said he felt “backed into a corner” and was “trying to just spew as much as information” as possible while speaking to Shepard, 48.
“I wanted to take a second to share my story in my words with fully accurate information but also to bring up that again, it sucks that someone like JVN is expected to be this, like, savior of all marginalized communities in all instances. And let’s not be out here grilling folks like that all the time,” Weigel said.
Van Ness appeared on “Armchair Expert” to discuss his own podcast, “Getting Curious,” but the conversation took a turn when Shepard began questioning Van Ness about gender-affirming care for trans youth. “Some people are very uncomfortable about teenagers transitioning,” Shepard said. “How do we know that the person’s not gonna change their mind? Then there’s another counterargument. If they kill themselves, then that’s really f–king permanent. … To even question it makes you an enemy. I don’t think that’s the way forward.”
Van Ness patiently defended the rights of trans people, but eventually, he admitted that it was “disappointing” to realize that Shepard and others “think they’re really fighting” for women when they exclude trans kids from sports.
“I’m a nonbinary f–king trans person. When I talk to my dad or people who say similar things, it’s hard to be cool through that,” Van Ness explained. “I’m not calling you a transphobe. You can not be transphobic and still have thoughts that espouse trans misogyny and espouse transphobic ideologies or beliefs and not be transphobic.”
After Shepard apologized, Van Ness broke down in tears while explaining how much the conversation triggered him. “I could just cry because I’m so tired of having to fight for little kids because they just want to be included,” Van Ness said. “I wish that people were as passionate about little kids being able to be included or grow up as they were about fictitious women’s fairness in sports. I have to tell you I am very tired.”
Shepard, for his part, has not responded to the backlash surrounding the episode. On Monday, he shared several photos from the podcast taping via Instagram without mentioning the trans rights conversation. “I’ve been a @jvn fan since Gay of Thrones,” Shepard wrote. “Jonathan even convinced me to buy beard oil and green tint moisturizer.”