Last week, Mario Lopez guest-starred on Candace Owens’ talk show. Their conversation has made headlines, and not in a good way.
During the interview, Lopez and Owens used the news of actress Charlize Theron’s seven-year-old child’s transition to comment on the “weird” and “really scary trend” of Hollywood parents supporting their transgender kids. Among other things, Lopez remarked that parents allowing their children to determine their own gender identity is “dangerous” and “alarming.”
Owens, an outspoken conservative commentator, compared a kid confirming their gender to saying they were “a mermaid” or “could fly.”
Lopez agreed, telling Owens he was struggling to understand the mentality, and was “kind of blown away.” He elaborated: “If you’re 3 years old and you’re saying you’re feeling a certain way, or you think you’re a boy or a girl or whatever the case may be, 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.”
From this point on, the two used the term sexuality in place of sexual orientation, and confused that term with the separate concept of gender identity. The Human Rights Campaign defines gender identity as an individual’s “concept of self, as male, female, a blend of both or neither,” which can be “the same or different from the person’s sex assigned at birth.” Sexual orientation, on the other hand, refers to who the person is attracted to, romantically or sexually.
Essentially, sexual orientation is who you like, and gender identity is who you are. “Sexuality” is defined as sexual activity or feelings, which has nothing to do with orientation or identity, and was misused in this context.
Lopez went on to say that a child’s transition struck him as “sort of alarming” and made him concerned about “the repercussions later on.” Owens jumped in, attesting that though she was “a tomboy as a child” she “grew out of the phase,” claiming that this was evidence that no kid can “make decisions about sexuality” at such a young age.
Lopez continued by repeating, “When you’re a kid … You don’t know anything about sexuality, you’re just a kid.”
Owens chimed in, remarking that she “just [sees] depression” as the most likely outcome of a child’s transition. She added that, in her opinion, parents who allow their kids to transition are “narcissists,” spurring Lopez to respond that though parents should “allow their kids to be kids, [they] gotta be the adult in the situation.”
Lopez concluded by suggesting that parents wait until their child’s “formative years” (referring to puberty) to discuss and “make these declarations” concerning gender.
The former Saved by the Bell star has since apologized for his comments, which he describes as “ignorant and insensitive.”
Lopez told People he now has a “deeper understanding of how hurtful they were,” adding that he “[has] been and always will be an ardent supporter of the LGBTQ community, and [is] going to use this opportunity to better educate [himself].” He plans to be “more informed and thoughtful” moving forward.
LGBTQ advocacy organization GLAAD told People in a statement: “Medical and psychological experts, and parents of children who are transgender, have long discredited the ideas that Mario Lopez shared… The real ‘dangerous action’ is when someone with a public platform uses bad science to speak against a marginalized and vulnerable group of children.”
Transgender activist Parker Molloy commented that though Lopez “likely had no ill intentions,” he needed to educate himself. Molloy remarked that the interview “speaks to a lot of the misinformation out there about trans kids,” adding that she hopes “Lopez reflects on this a bit” and even “meets with a trans kid or two to better understand where they’re coming from.”
The American Association of Pediatrics attests that transgender children “can grow into happy and healthy adults when supported and loved throughout their development.” The AAP recommends a “nonjudgemental approach” to raising gender-nonconforming kids, taking the emphasis off “concerns over gender” by allowing children “the freedom to focus on academics, relationship-building, and other typical developmental tasks.” According to the AAP, children who are supported by their parents and family are more likely to experience better physical and mental health.
Watch this section of The Candace Owens Show below.