The Behind-the-Scenes Journey of The Daily Wire’s Trans-Panic Sports Movie Disproves Its Entire Thesis

Ben Shapiro’s extreme-right-wing platform The Daily Wire continues its embarrassing foray into film. They’ve been on a tear of producing movies that are equal parts bigoted and pointless and their latest “comedy,” Lady Ballers looks to be no exception.

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***Content warning: transphobia***

Lady Ballers is written and directed by The Daily Wire’s CEO Jeremy Boreing, who also stars in the movie. The film centers on a men’s basketball team whose members pretend to be women in order to win a championship. The premise is rooted in a tragically pervasive anti-trans lie: that cis men can just say they’re women and be allowed to dominate women’s sports leagues. This bad-faith, completely fabricated lie has been used for years to derail conversations about trans rights.

In reality, more often than not, trans people face a constant uphill battle littered with obstacles in the fight to gain social and institutional validation of their identities. From elementary school sports leagues to professional teams, conservatives, anti-trans activists, and those swayed by right-wing fearmongering have guaranteed that for trans women or girls, it is never as easy as simply signing up for a team.

Incredibly, in a recent interview, Daily Wire co-founder Ben Shapiro admitted exactly that. Despite making it the central premise of their film, everyone behind the scenes knew how unrealistic this lie was.

In what appears to be an interview between his CEO and himself on his own show on his own network (what a media blitz!), Shapiro says he first suggested making Lady Ballers as a documentary. That became impossible when they realized, “as it turns out, most ladies’ leagues don’t let in actual men.” THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT WE’VE BEEN SAYING!

Moreover, Shapiro notes that the male actors involved were not willing to “go the full distance in terms of what it would require […] to play in some of the ladies’ leagues.”

(Sidebar: I can’t be the only one who finds Shapiro’s repeated use of the term “ladies’ leagues” to be unsettling. You can just say “women,” Ben!)

The “full distance” he’s referring to can mean undergoing hormone treatment, psychological counseling, and even mandating surgery, as anti-trans bigots are obsessed with inspecting athletes’ genitals, even when those athletes are children.

Even then, even trans women who have fully transitioned socially and medically can still face oppression, exclusion, and extreme harassment. There is no world in which a cisgender man would go through that just to play on a women’s team.

So no, Lady Ballers was never going to be a documentary. And there are some who will dismiss concern over the film’s premise, waving it off as being “just a comedy.” But the lie this film is based on does real harm, as it is designed to cast suspicion on the validity of trans people’s identities. This concept, as unrealistic as it is, is an active talking point being pushed by anti-trans activists to frame transgender people as a group that doesn’t deserve basic rights or protections.

Now, in addition to making it a foundational subject in their “news” (like “comedy,” we use the term loosely) coverage, The Daily Wire has made an entire movie out of this utter ignorant garbage.

(featured image: Netflix)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.