“Saturday Night Live” star Michael Che pushed back on Monday after coming under fire for referring to Caitlyn Jenner by her old name and calling her “fella” during a segment on “Weekend Update” this weekend. Che responded to one particularly virulent critic on his Instagram account on Monday, writing in response to the accusation of transphobia, “how would you know what I’m afraid of..?”
The moment in question came during a joke about Kanye West in which Che likened the rapper’s recent behavior to that of “an old white lady,” suggesting that West might actually be becoming one. “He’s showing up to events in sweatpants and orthopedic sneakers, listening to Kenny G and trying to get black people to like Trump. It’s like, how long before this guy changes his name to Kathy?” Che said.
“Now, you might think that I’m crazy, but about five years ago, there was a fella named Bruce Jenner, and he moved to Calabasas,” he continued, before trailing off.
Che’s joke took a fair amount of criticism over the weekend, with some saying the “Weekend Update” joke was transphobic.
Referring to a transgender person by their birth name rather than their chosen one — a practice sometimes referred to as “deadnaming” — is widely advised against by advocacy groups, with GLAAD equating it to an invasion of privacy. Che’s joke also included an on-screen photo of Jenner from before her transition.
Caitlyn Jenner jokes in 2019. Keep crushing it, SNL. Truly innovative stuff from Michael Che.
— Justin Martin (@jmartinwrites) October 27, 2019
Michael Che about to try out the transphobic joke he was working on all week pic.twitter.com/IffXdKyMRN
— Will Long✨ (@Willful_long) October 27, 2019
NBC did not immediately return TheWrap’s request for comment.