Dame Edna Everage actor hit with transphobia claims

Comedian Barry Humphries – arguably best-known for his character Dame Edna Everage – has been hit with claims of transphobia following a controversial interview.

Humphries made a number of offensive comments to The Spectator during a wide-ranging interview that touched on his performances and his critics within the transgender community.

When asked if his character of Dame Edna had ever attracted the attention of "trans activists", Humphries responded by calling criticism "terrible rat-baggery".

Later on in the interview, Humphries suggested being trans was "a fashion", adding: "How many different kinds of lavatory can you have?

Related: Dame Edna Everage actor Barry Humphries slams the "new Puritanism" of the BBC

"And it's pretty evil when it's preached to children by crazy teachers."

The stand-up also reflected on his previous use of the word 'mutilation' when describing gender-confirmation surgery, dismissing the "indignation" it aroused from the community.

"That aroused a lot of indignation — probably among the people who'd spent a lot of money having it done," he said. "But I don't think I'm right to pontificate. I'm really an actor."

Among those criticising the actor is podcast host Thomas John Jaspers, who tweeted: "You are my idol. You broke ground, you broke rules, you pissed off the establishment. You defined Australian culture. You have a lifetime of achievements. And now this is will be your legacy. You've become the people you used to make fun of. Shut up and retire."

Hannah Gadsby, whose Netflix stand-up special Nanette deals with marginalisation, argued that her fellow comedian was not using his enormous influence responsibly.

"Barry Humphries loves those who hold power, hates vulnerable minorities and has completely lost the ability to read the room," she tweeted. "Thats not a comedian, thats an irrelevant, inhumane dick biscuit of the highest order."

Barry Humphries made a divisive appearance on This Morning last month to promote his return to the comedy circuit.

Although presenters Ruth Langsford and Eamonn Holmes were enamoured by the 84-year-old comedian, many viewers watching at home called the interview "uncomfortable".

"I have never cringed so much in my whole life, such an uncomfortable interview," one person commented, while another questioned whether Humphries was 'still relevant'.