Dave Chappelle’s latest comedy special for Netflix has kicked up a hornet’s nest of outrage online and offline for his comments on the LGBTQ community and trans people in particular, with prominent activist groups now calling for it to be pulled from the streaming platform.
In The Closer, the comedian zeroes in on the trans community and makes explicit jokes about them, at one point, saying “gender is a fact” and that “every human being on Earth had to pass through the legs of a woman to be on Earth,” before discussing that “trans women” genitalia is “not quite what it is.” Chappelle also exclaimed that he was “Team TERF” at one point in his stand-up routine. TERF stands for “trans-exclusionary radical feminist”, a term popularized due to Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling’s infamous stance expressed in a series of tweets last year. He also used a joke to draw a comparison between the backlash over DaBaby’s homophobic comments and the backlash they received and the lack of similar outrage over systemic racism.
Chappelle’s sustained focus on the LGBTQ community spurred the executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, David Johns to post an essay online calling on Netflix to pull the special and for Chappelle to apologize. “It is deeply disappointing that Netflix allowed Dave Chappelle’s lazy and hostile transphobia and homophobia to air on its platform,” Johns said. “With 2021 on track to be the deadliest year on record for transgender people in the United States — the majority of whom are Black transgender people — Netflix should know better. Perpetuating transphobia perpetuates violence.”
The organization for LGBTQ rights, GLAAD issued an additional statement via Twitter: “Dave Chappelle’s brand has become synonymous with ridiculing trans people and other marginalized communities. 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,”
So far, there’s been no comment from Dave Chappelle or Netflix.