Dave Chappelle is facing backlash from prominent social justice organizations and others for jokes targeting trans and other LGBTQ+ people in his new special ‘The Closer,’ which debuted on Netflix Tuesday.
Critics include trans people tied to Netflix, including “Dear White People” executive producer Jaclyn Moore, who says she’s “done” with the streamer.
“I love so many of the people I’ve worked with at Netflix. Brilliant people and executives who have been collaborative and fought for important art,” she said. “But I’ve been thrown against walls because, ‘I’m not a ‘real’ woman.’ I’ve had beer bottles thrown at me.”
The 48-year-old comedian, who has sparked outrage from the trans community for past stand-up routines, faced renewed criticism for segments of his new half-hour set. “Gender is a fact,” he stated at one point. “Every human being in this room, every human being on Earth, had to pass through the legs of a woman to be on Earth.” Chappelle then riffed about the genitalia of trans women, which he described as “not what it is.”
Chappelle also drew heat for defending J.K. Rowling, the “Harry Potter” author who has been repeatedly criticized for making transphobic comments. “They canceled J.K. Rowling – my God,” he said. “Effectually she said gender was a fact, the trans community got mad as s—, they started calling her a TERF.”
TERF stands for “trans-exclusionary radical feminist” — feminists who do not believe trans women are women. Chapelle then went on to declare himself “Team TERF.”
Terra Field, a programmer who works for Netflix and is trans herself, explained her problem with Chappelle’s statements In a thread containing dozens of tweets.
“Yesterday we launched another Chappelle special where he attacks the trans community, and the very validity of transness – all while trying to pit us against other marginalized groups,” Field said. “You’re going to hear a lot of talk about “offense”. We are not offended.”
“Being trans is actually pretty funny, if you’re someone who actually knows about the subject matter. How could volunteering for a second puberty *not* be funny? That isn’t what he is doing though. Our existence is ‘funny’ to him – and when we object to his harm, we’re ‘offended,’” she continued.
Field also included a lengthy list of primarily black, trans people who have recently been murdered. Read the whole thread here.
In response, the Human Rights Campaign “CC”‘d Chappelle on Twitter, writing that “Trans women are women. Trans men are men. Non-binary people are non-binary.”
“It is deeply disappointing that Netflix allowed Dave Chappelle’s lazy and hostile transphobia and homophobia to air on its platform,” David J. Johns, executive director of The National Black Justice Coalition said in a statement posted on the organization’s Twitter account. “… We do not condone violence against any members of our community and our feelings and existence as trans, queer and non-binary/non-conforming people matter too.”
In response to NPR critic Eric Deggans’ review of the special – which called Chappelle out for his “button-pushing jokes about about gay people, trans people, and feminists” – the LGBTQ+ organization GLAAD chimed in with its own statement.
“Dave Chappelle’s brand has become synonymous with ridiculing trans people and other marginalized communities,” said the organization. “Negative reviews and viewers loudly condemning his latest special is a message to the industry that audiences don’t support platforming anti-LGBTQ diatribes. We agree.”
Check out the tweets below: