Leaked audio that was reportedly made on Dec. 16 during a private lunch in New York City reveals that Dr. Mehmet Oz, who is running for a seat in the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania as a Republican, has some, uh, thoughts on trans rights he apparently didn’t feel he could share on his syndicated talk show, The Dr. Oz Show. Oz reportedly defended J.K. Rowling—the famed Harry Potter writer who has since become infamous for her consistent anti-trans remarks and positions—as being “very brave.”
He also reportedly suggested that it’s “not fair” to protect just “one group” of people ... which, sure, right, but no one is suggesting that trans folks are the only people who need and deserve protection. We’re just fighting to make sure an extremely vulnerable population gets protections to begin with. The leaked audio was first obtained by Radar Online, a celebrity gossip website.
According to the gossip outlet, Oz reportedly described the “transgender issue” as “diluted a little bit,” noting that it’s “critical” to understand the suicide rate among transgender adults. He stressed the importance of having “compassion” about this “problem.”
“Transgender folks who are adults, when they are processing this, have to figure out if they wanna keep living the lie,” Oz reportedly continued. “They don't think they're who they are—or be who they truly are and are [inaudible] because of it. So, that's like the baseline."
There’s obviously plenty to correct here: No one is living a lie if they’re not open about their gender identity, especially not in a society that systemically oppresses trans folks. People do not have to out themselves to anyone. But this does seem to be a position with more empathy and compassion than many other Republicans, which I can’t praise, but will recognize.
But Oz didn’t stop there.
“Feminists have very eloquently fought for the ability to have women’s sports be on equal [inaudible] as men’s sports,” Oz reportedly said, adding that this “takes away that ability.” He went on to say, “I would argue that what I just said can’t be said—I definitely couldn’t have said it on [The Dr. Oz Show]—and you need to be able to say those things.”
Oz allegedly described Rowling as “not some icon of the conservative party,” but as a “lifelong feminist” who said something “very brave” and was “canceled” over it. “And I’ve talked to people who are canceling her,” he reportedly continued, “who would’ve been making a lot of money off her, and they can’t defend what they’re doing, or they don’t wanna be in trouble.” Oz reportedly went on to say that brave Americans have to be “willing to get into trouble.”
If you’re curious about where Oz stands politically in general, well. It’s a doozy. He’s running as a Republican in Pennsylvania, though his campaign announcement materials stress his interest in a border wall and stopping “illegal” immigration (no one is illegal, ever, mind you). His website also stresses he wants to make sure “people know the truth about COVID.” Though Oz is technically a physician—he’s a heart surgeon—he’s become infamous for his stances on the COVID-19 pandemic, which he’s repeatedly shared on Fox News as a guest.
For example, back in April 2020, Oz suggested that reopening schools during the pandemic would perhaps “cost us” only 2%-3% in terms of “total mortality” of the population, which of course caused serious outcry—he later apologized and said he misspoke. In his campaign materials, though, Oz suggested Americans have been “patronized and misled” during the pandemic. He also described the “arrogant, closed-minded people in charge closed our schools, shut down our businesses and took away our freedom.”
He also recently jabbed at Dr. Anthony Fauci, suggesting that Fauci has “lost the faith and confidence” of the American public during an interview with the New York Post. Oz reportedly said Fauci should be “held accountable” for “misleading” the public and Congress, whether “willfully or unintentionally.”
In a campaign video shared to Twitter in November, he described “Washington” as being to blame for the loss of lives, jobs, and opportunities. Oz asserted that “they took away our freedom without making us safer” and “tried to kill our spirit and our dignity.” Big yikes.