Yet again, podcast host Joe Rogan is using his platform — an estimated 11 million listeners per episode of the Joe Rogan Experience podcast — to spew harmful anti-trans rhetoric and false information while platforming bigotry.
On his January 25 episode, Rogan hosted Jordan Peterson, a retired Canadian psychology professor turned right-wing provocateur who posited that being trans is both a “sociological contagion” and similar to the now-debunked “satanic panic” of the 1980s.
When Rogan steered the discussion to the subject of transgender people, Peterson explained his opposition to Canadian federal Bill C-16, which amended the country’s human rights protection to include gender identity. “I knew full well as a clinician that as soon as we messed with fundamental sex categories and changed the terminology, we would fatally confuse thousand of young girls. I knew that because I knew the literature on sociological contagion,” Peterson said.
In response, Rogan said it was similar to the work of anti-trans author Abigail Shrier, who also claimed that trans people are a contagion, and who had previously appeared on his podcast. In her work, Shrier discusses the concept of “rapid-onset gender dysphoria,” which comes from a since-corrected study by Brown University researcher Dr. Lisa Littman that initially suggested trans youth began identifying that way due to “social and peer contagion.” The study was deeply flawed, however, as it was conducted by surveying the parents of the trans youth, who had visited anti-trans websites, rather than the trans youths themselves.
Later in his conversation with Peterson, Rogan suggested that the acceptance of trans people is a sign of society collapsing, citing the work of right-wing British author and political commentator Douglas Murray, who claims that trans acceptance will someday be seen as “a late-empire, a bad sign of things falling apart” — an assertion Rogan has frequently repeated on his show. “[Murray] had an amazing point about civilizations collapsing, and that when they start collapsing they become obsessed with gender. And he was saying that you could trace it back to the ancient Romans, the Greeks,” Rogan said on his January 25 episode.
In addition to his continued anti-trans remarks, Rogan has come under fire for hosting discussions about discredited claims about the COVID-19 pandemic.