LONDON — Talk show host Piers Morgan is under fire for asking a couple who say they identify neither as male or female if he could identify as a black woman or an elephant.
“Can I be an elephant? Can I literally say I’m now an elephant and do I get afforded elephant rights?” he inquired on Friday’s broadcast of “Good Morning Britain.” “Can I go to London Zoo and demand to be put in an elephant compound because I have decided I’m an elephant?”
During the conversation with the couple who go by the names “Fox and Owl,” Fox explained that she was born a female, but later decided to present herself as male, and now doesn’t want to self-identify as either sex. She said that while her “gender expression” is male, her “gender identity” is non-binary.
“I define as non-binary. That means I identify with neither male or female fully,” she said. “It’s not like I go around telling people I’m gender neutral. I’m just non-binary. I just refuse to identify myself as a man or woman.”
Owl, wearing a floral dress, likewise outlined that he was born a male, but later decided to present himself as female. However, he doesn’t wish to be called a man or a woman.
“I think there’s very strong ideas about what it is to be a man or a woman in our society and those ideas are entirely socially constructed—the thing we expect a man or a woman to do,” he said.
Morgan then asked how the two should be addressed, and the couple advised that “they” would be acceptable, rather than he or she.
“There’s 71 different current Facebook ways of identifying your gender, including two-spirit person, gender fluid and all sorts of other stuff,” the talk show host noted. “Do you categorize yourself as any of the 71?”
“Well, it’s wonderful to have all those different identifications,” Fox replied.
“Is it, or is it just a load of gobbledygook?” Morgan asked. “I mean, seriously! … If I turn around right now and say that I am a black woman, … if I just decided to identify myself as a completely different skin color to the one that I am, that would clearly be ridiculous, right?”
When he asked if the two would respect his wishes to be called a black woman, they declined to answer, stating that Morgan’s question was only a hypothetical situation and not in reality.
Morgan later explained that his point is that he is concerned with how far the identity envelope can be pushed.
“My problem with everyone just being free to identify themselves in any way they choose is: Where does that end? Where are any boundaries for kids, for instance, at school? If you can basically come in and say, ‘I’m not a boy or girl anymore,’ what else can you say you’re not? If I identify as anything, is anything fine?” he asked.
He also opined that the matter is a fad, that people are choosing to identify as something different because they see others doing it and think it’s “cool.”
Morgan’s comments drew both criticism and applause from viewers, with some stating that he had been insensitive and others thanking him for voicing their same thoughts.
“Piers Morgan being his normal pig ignorant self this morning! Have some respect man. Well done, Fox and Owl!” one commenter wrote.
“Honestly, I’m so sorry that Fox and Owl had to put up with Piers Morgan being such a stupid bigot. They deserve so much better,” another stated.
“Oh dear, the world suddenly became very weird. I agree with Morgan,” a third remarked.
“I didn’t think I would ever say this sentence, but I totally agree with Piers Morgan over everything he said involving non-binary issues,” another said.