Bette Midler clarifies that she had 'no intention' of transphobia in tweet about women
The star of the upcoming Hocus Pocus 2 pointed to a controversial New York Times opinion piece by Pamela Paul as the inspiration for the initial message she shared Monday, in which she cautioned that women were being "stripped of our rights over our bodies" — evidenced, as she noted, by terms often regarded as trans-inclusive, such as "birthing people."
"There was no intention of anything exclusionary or transphobic in what I said; it wasn't about that," Midler tweeted Tuesday night. "It was about the same old s--- women – ALL WOMEN – have been putting up with since the cavemen. Even then, men got top billing."
She added, "But seriously, folks, if anyone who read that tweet thinks I have anything but love for any marginalized people, go to Wikipedia and type in my name."
Midler, often regarded as a queer icon, was referring to her long-standing status as an ally to the LGBTQ+ community, after she began her career by singing in gay bathhouses and amassing a following of queer fans.
"I've fought for marginalized people for as long as I can remember. Still, if you want to dismiss my 60 years of proven love and concern over a tweet that accidentally angered the very people I have always supported and adored, so be it," she continued. "But the truth is, Democracy is slipping through our fingers! I'm all in on trying to save Democracy for ALL PEOPLE. We must unite, because, in case you haven't been paying attention, divided we will definitely fall."
As several users pointed out in response to Midler's subsequent tweets, Paul's op-ed also contains rhetoric that can be seen as anti-trans — particularly a paragraph that takes issue with trans-inclusive words.
"The noble intent behind omitting the word 'women' is to make room for the relatively tiny number of transgender men and people identifying as nonbinary who retain aspects of female biological function and can conceive, give birth, or breastfeed," Paul wrote. "But despite a spirit of inclusion, the result has been to shove women to the side."
Grammy-winning "I Try" singer Macy Gray and Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling have also come under fire recently for their comments about trans people, with Gray causing a stir after her Monday appearance on Piers Morgan Uncensored, during which she voiced opposition to trans women competing against cis women in sporting events and stressed that medical procedures aren't enough to make someone a woman in her eyes.
"I will say this, and everybody's going to hate me, but, as a woman, just because you go change your parts, doesn't make you a woman. Sorry," she told Morgan, later adding: "If you want me to call you a her, I will, because that's what you want, but that doesn't make you a woman just because I call you a her and just because you got a surgery."
Entertainment Weekly's Ultimate Guide to RuPaul is available online or wherever magazines are sold.
Subscribe to EW's BINGE podcast for full recaps of RuPaul's Drag Race, including weekly All Stars 7 recaps and reactions with the cast, special guests, and more.