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Dave Chappelle opens Radio Music Hall set with 20 minutes of transphobic jokes
This isn’t the first time he’s made jokes at trans women’s expense.
Earlier this week, transgender activists began boycotting Charlamagne Tha God’s radio show “The Breakfast Club” after comedian Lil Duvall joked that he would kill a trans woman if she outed herself after having sex with him. Now, comedian Dave Chappelle is under fire for telling an onslaught of transphobic jokes in his new set.
Chappelle began a 16-show residency at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on Monday. According to Vulture’s Jesse David Fox, who attended the show, Chappelle began his stand-up performance with a 20-minute set of trans jokes, which Fox called “rooted in disgust and generalization.”
One joke focused on Trump’s transgender military ban. Chappelle joked that transgender people must be a “secret weapon,” because ISIS would find trans people too disgusting to fight.
“If I was in ISIS in the trenches fighting against the United States and all of the sudden I see a man with a beard and big D-cups titties just rushing my foxhole and shit, I’d be horrified,” Chappelle said, according to Vulture.
Chappelle also targeted Caitlyn Jenner, saying that Sports Illustrated was “cramming man-pussy” into the sports magazine.
“I read in the paper that Caitlyn Jenner was contemplating posing nude in an upcoming issue of Sports Illustrated,” he started. “And I knew it was politically incorrect to say, so I figured I’d just say it for everybody—yuck. Fuck, man, I just want to read some stats, like why are you cramming man-pussy in the middle of the sports page like that?”
While he admitted that he doesn’t quite understand trans people, in a moment of reflection, Chapelle did say that his personal ignorance doesn’t disqualify a trans person “from being a human being that deserves a life with dignity and happiness and respect.” But then he proceeded to end his trans segment by suggesting only white trans women transition genders.
“[T]he only reason all of us are talking about transgenders is because white men want to do it. If it was just blacks and Mexican like, ‘Hey, y’all, we feel like girls inside.’ They’d be like, ‘Shut up, n****r, no one asked how you felt,'” Chappelle said during the show.
Chappelle has since come under fire for ignoring the excruciatingly high violent crime rates against transgender women of color. Most transgender people murdered are transgender women of color, refuting Chappelle’s point pretty significantly.
Trans activists and allies have since turned to Twitter to criticize Chappelle, telling the comedian to think up some new jokes.
This is going to sound rhetorical, but I mean it sincerely:
— Alison Herman (@aherman2006) August 2, 2017
There is nothing funny about transphobia. If you find transphobia funny, you're complicit in transphobic violence #TransFolksAreNotJokes
— Danielle Solzman (@DanielleSATM) August 2, 2017
I got love for Dave but I don't let admiration get in the way of morality. These joke were a bit far down the road and insensitive.
— ANON (@MarcoDaGod3) August 3, 2017
After his @netflix special, I can't believe anyone is still buying tickets to his shows. I was sad to see how out of touch he has become.
— Megan (@ThunderTheft) August 2, 2017
Cuz it sounds dismissive about the trans struggle in general…u know they have a high murder rate
— Mr. Fantastic (@LTrain87x) August 3, 2017
it's an ignorant and bigoted statement. Many trans folks are Black
— Marcos W (@HockeyTarheel) August 3, 2017
Others defended Chappelle, saying that it’s a comedian’s job to write jokes about the world. For them, that includes writing sets about transgender people.
"Dave Chappelle made a trans joke he's cancelled" pic.twitter.com/YypsxdYg13
— DAMN (@PrinceMarcus_24) August 3, 2017
If only Chappelle ran all his material past Jezebel's staff in case it was offensive, he may've had a better career.https://t.co/fICsWCqEoa
— Christoph (@Halalcoholism) August 3, 2017
y'all not bout to tell Dave Chappelle what he can and can't joke about this late into his career like he ain't drop gems on his own.
— Stone Cold (@P1R4T3F0RL1F3) August 3, 2017
Other material of Chapelle’s has also caused controversy in recent months. The stand-up comedian previously told America to give President Donald Trump “a chance,” though he has since apologized. He has also been criticized for consistently approaching LGBTQ issues in a tone deaf manner. Compared to Chappelle’s work criticizing racism in the Chappelle Show, many feel the comedian should redraft some of his more insensitive jokes.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated for clarity.
Ana Valens is an LGBTQ reporter and essayist for the Daily Dot. Her work has previously appeared in Bitch, the Establishment, Vice's Waypoint, Rolling Stone's Glixel, and the Toast. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.