Karl Stefanovic made headlines yesterday when he made a series of jokes about transgender people on the Today Show.
It happened during a discussion with Channel 9 reporter Christine Ahern who had been mugged by a group of — in her words — “transvestites” in Rio.
“I know that you have gone to see the police about this tranny,” Karl said during the segment.
“We have a confit made up and we know they don’t all look the same. Is that the tranny they are talking about?” he asked as a photograph of Hugo Weaving in character in the film Priscilla Queen of the Desert appeared on screen.
Viewers were outraged and took to social media to berate the television host for his use of an outdated term.
Today, Karl appeared before his audience cap in hand acknowledging he offended a number of viewers and saying he was ignorant to how damaging the word he used was.
“As we all know, I can be a complete tool, right? Well, yesterday I was worse — I was an ignorant tool,” Karl says.
“I pride myself, in my own weird way, of being across things. Yesterday I wasn’t. Yesterday, I got it wrong. I used a word, which I will now say for the last time ever. By using the word ‘tranny’, I offended an awful lot of beautiful and sensitive people. I honestly didn’t know the negative and deeply hurtful impact that word has, not only on member of the LGBTQI community, but on their family and friends,” he continues.
Karl says he spoke with a friend from the LGBTIQ community following the show who told him he has “crossed the line”.
After his apology, Karl went on to address those who had defended the segment saying, “To anyone who found the segment funny, please understand why it was the exact opposite: an ignorant jibe at the expense of a beautiful community already battling against the odds for mainstream acceptance.”
He closed by saying that he has learnt a lesson.
“People, my brothers and sisters in the community who love and respect me, have told me to educate myself. I have started to,” Karl says.