Wendy Williams has become the latest US television personality to offend the transgender community after hosting a panel segment discussing transgender athlete Chloie Jonsson.
Jonsson, a personal trainer from California, has filed a $2.5 million lawsuit against fitness company CrossFit for alleged discriminatory practices.
She claims CrossFit denied her the chance to participate in the women’s division of the upcoming CrossFit Games on the grounds that she was ‘born as a male’.
Jonsson had gender reassignment surgery in 2006 and is legally recognized as a woman in the state of California.
The segment aired on Friday (14 March) and featured input from host Wendy Williams, Judge Lynn Toler from TV show Divorce Court and Joe Pardavila of The Todd Show.
Agreeing that Jonsson should not be able to compete in the women’s division, Williams said: ‘This is an unfair advantage… You can take away female parts or male parts or whatever – it’s like Chaz Bono! You know Chaz is a man now, but I bet she still fights like a girl like the rest of us and she’s not as strong as a man who was born a man.’
Toler attempts to provide a legal perspective explaining that Jonsson should be free to compete as a woman, but Pardavila says: ‘Think about it. You look inside – she’s got all guy muscles, and the juices! You know, I’m not a doctor or anything but inside her that’s all there.’
A video of the segment was posted on The Wendy Williams Show website but has since been removed.
Williams tweeted an apology yesterday evening, saying: ‘Didn’t mean to offend when discussing transgender topic. I’m a long LGBT ally & @GLAAD supporter & will use this 2b better educated on the T’.
Pardavila also expressed regrets over his contribution to the segment on Twitter, replying to several users individually to apologise and promising to ‘learn from this experience’.
Carmen Carrera, the transgender model who was insensitively questioned about her ‘private parts’ by TV host Katie Couric in January, has given her support to Jonsson, telling CrossFit to ‘put [Chloie] under the test and I bet her [testosterone] levels are the same as the rest of the competitors’.