Dave Chappelle is sparking backlash after making transphobic comments in his new Netflix comedy special. In The Closer, the sixth installment in his deal with the streaming giant, the comedian made some comments in support of Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling which are being viewed as transphobic.
Chappelle referenced problematic comments made by Rowling in 2019, when she came under fire for being supportive of Maya Forstater, a tax specialist who was fired for anti-transgender tweets. Rowling then doubled down on her transphobic comments later on in a blog post, where she explained her “five reasons for being worried about the new trans activism.” Activists then labelled her a TERF, which stands for trans-exclusionary radical feminist.
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Chappelle joked about the internet being done with Rowling, saying, “They canceled J.K. Rowling — my God.” Then, he added, “effectually she said gender was a fact, the trans community got mad as [expletive], they started calling her a TERF.”
Clearly confused about the difference between sex and gender, Chappelle sided with Rowling: “I’m Team TERF. I agree. I agree, man. Gender is a fact.”
In his special, Chappelle defined the term and explained that TERF is used to describe feminists who are transphobic. He then added, “They look at trans women the way we Blacks might look at Blackface.”
Related: 11 ways to be a respectful LGBTQ2S+ ally.
We aren’t sure who needs to tell Chappelle this, but gender is a social construct. It can vary from society to society and change over time, it can be fluid — and non-binary people, who don’t identify with any gender, do indeed exist, despite what he and Rowling might have to say about it.
Several people took to Twitter, swiftly denouncing Chappelle’s controversial take:
I hate that Dave Chappelle talks about the disparities between the gay struggle and black struggle like black gay people just…don’t exist.
— stegan the mallion (@thisiskashmir) October 5, 2021
The transphobic comments in Dave Chappelle’s latest Netflix special are absolutely abhorrent. It’s disgusting it’s given such a platform. https://t.co/gxaI1xFcVW
— chris evans (@chris_notcapn) October 5, 2021
20 minutes of “I CAN’T BE TRANSPHOBIC I HAVE A TRANS FRIEND” ain’t genius, y’all.
— David Dennis Jr. (@DavidDTSS) October 6, 2021
It’s not the first time Chappelle has been dragged on social media for making transphobic statements. In a comedy special from 2019, he said: “This idea that a person can be born in the wrong body — they have to admit, that’s a [expletive] hilarious predicament.”
At the end of the Closer special, he said he would no longer be making “jokes” about the LGBTQ+ community. We hope he sticks to his word — and educates himself about the trans community.
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