A leading transgender advocate has blasted Australian entertainer Barry Humphries for his comments labelling transgender celebrity Caitlyn Jenner a "mutilated man" and a "publicity-seeking ratbag".
Humphries, 81, is best known for bringing colourful characters Dame Edna Everage and Sir Les Patterson to life.
In an interview with the UK'sTelegraph, Humphries said he agreed with prominent Australian feminist Germaine Greer on transgender women, saying they are "mutilated men".
"Self-mutilation, what's all this carry on?" he said. "Caitlyn Jenner – what a publicity-seeking ratbag."
Humphries went on to complain that "if you criticise anything you're racist or sexist or homophobic".
In the same interview, Humphries said he prefers to avoid publicity in the "age of ever-increasing political correctness" and "allow his creations do the talking".
Sally Goldner from advocacy group Transgender Victoria told BuzzFeed News that Humphries is "from the same school of cheap publicity as his friend Germaine Greer".
"He's a very good actor and entertainer, but how does that make him an authority on transgender issues?" said Goldner. "Why is he even commenting?
"He has no expertise in this area. Just because he performs a certain role doesn't mean he has any knowledge of trans issues."
Goldner added that when people like Humphries and Greer speak out against transgender people, it distracts from large issues facing the community.
"The issues we need to be talking about are accurate documentation, adequate health and medical care, the strongest possible protections from discrimination, and funding for organisations to prevent this sort of prejudice," she said.
"I think I would convey a huge level of frustration from the trans community that all these people, Greer, Humphries, others, think they know what our lives are about, think they can control our lives and tell us who we are."
Robert Simms, Greens senator and the party spokesperson on LGBTI issues, said the comments showed Humphries is "out of touch".
"The idea that trans women aren't real women is really damaging, and it's irresponsible for people in public life to make those comments – particularly when we look at the huge numbers of depression and suicide within the transgender community," Simms said.
"To refer to transgender people as self-mutilated is appalling, and I don't think anybody is laughing at Barry Humphries' transphobic rant."
"If he wants to talk about attention-seeking, maybe he should turn the mirror on himself."
Humphries' publicist did not respond to a request for comment.
Lane Sainty is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney, Australia.
Contact Lane Sainty at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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