Podcast Names: When I saw the news about Dax Shepherd and Jonathan van Ness’s interaction on the Shepard Podcast Names, which ended in tears, I wasn’t surprised. I’m not an armchair expert listener because interviews mostly seem indecent to me, and I lack the patience to portray the role of the Devil’s advocate for Shepard’s unrestrained desire to sensationalize for shock value. But I do appreciate JVN’s advocacy for transgender rights and abortion rights. I was curious.
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A Misstep in Podcast Names
It wasn’t good when Shepard and his partner Monica Padman mischaracterized Van Ness in the introduction of the episode, labeling the transgender rights issue as a ‘sensitive matter’ and issuing a convoluted trigger warning about their conversation. After a brief chat to get to know you, Shepard mentioned that he had seen a video of President Biden addressing those who had survived the Amazon Forest fires, comparing that devastation to his house burning down in a wildfire. This prompted Shepard to emphasize that he is not ready to tell ‘lie’ to Biden by calling him the ‘best option’ for the country. He disagreed with Padman that Biden was ‘less bad in bad options.’
Van Ness responded, ‘After living in Texas for the past three years, it’s a lot different. And so, I have conversations with people who live in more liberal states—it’s easy for you to say in a state where health care isn’t being gutted, where your kids might actually be able to have the Children and Family Services agency. You’re not investigating whether you have a non-binary child…’
A Clash of Perspectives
Given Shepard being Shepard, he couldn’t let it go. It seemed like Van Ness had opened a Pandora’s box that day when he was in the mood to nurture non-binary children. They stated he could show empathy towards people’s ‘fears’ and did not think it was a ‘path forward’ to insult those who are transgender by simply asking questions. The conversation shifted to transgender rights for some reason, a topic that always seems to come up in discussions because this is America.
‘I feel like I’m talking to my parent,’ Van Ness responded fundamentally before giving an answer to why the sports discourse is a waste of time and is ‘filled with misinformation and disinformation.’
‘Would I like trans women to have access to athletics and be able to compete and follow their dreams? Yes, I would,’ Shepard said. ‘Would I advocate for women’s rights? We’re showing that women are not a marginalized class in history.’
Van Ness responded that it’s not as easy as people questioning transgender individuals who play sports in their ‘justice warrior’ quest but that it’s a ‘publicly targeted attack.’
‘Lots of people are targeting weirdos—not wanting their rights. I agree with you,’ Shepard said.
‘So, then, can I sit here and see a lot of things about Dix Shepard?’ Van Ness requested. They said that weird people are the current ‘bogeyman’ in society, and the sports debate is a manifestation of it.
‘I genuinely think that a lot of people who are transphobic are using it as transmisogyny,’ Shepherd confessed.
‘I’m a non-binary effing trans person, you know, when I talk to my parent or people who say these things, it’s hard to cool off through it,’ Van Ness confessed. You can’t be a transphobe and still hold these beliefs that are so against trans and transphobic theories and beliefs.’
‘Really, I just… I wanted to talk about my podcast names,’ they said while resigning.’ Shepard said.
Apologizing, Shepard said, ‘I’m sure you’re disappointed with me.’
A Difficult Conversation, But Necessary
In the end, it seemed Shepard couldn’t let it go. It appears that Van Ness opened a Pandora’s box when he pointed out that Shepard was in a different mindset when he raised non-binary children.
Shepard, being Shepard, couldn’t concede. To be honest, when someone’s dissatisfied, an apology doesn’t cut it. Shepard held firm in his beliefs throughout the conversation and didn’t give up until tears were shed.
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