‘I’m team Terf’: Dave Chappelle under fire over pro-JK Rowling trans stance

By Maya Yang
Dave Chappelle in his Netflix special The Closer.
Dave Chappelle in his Netflix special The Closer. Photograph: Mathieu Bitton/Netflix

Dave Chappelle’s latest Netflix special is facing a wave of intense backlash after the comedian once again made jokes directed toward the LGBTQ+ community and defended the author JK Rowling, who has been previously accused of transphobia.

In The Closer, which premiered on Tuesday on Netflix, Chappelle declared himself a trans-exclusionary radical feminist (Terf) alongside Rowling. “They canceled JK Rowling – my God. Effectually she said gender was fact, the trans community got mad as shit, they started calling her a Terf … I’m team Terf,” the comedian said in the special, which is one of the most watched pieces of content on the streaming site.

“Gender is a fact. Every human being in this room, every human being on Earth, had to pass through the legs of a woman to be on Earth. This is a fact,” Chappelle added, before saying that “trans women’s” genitalia are “not quite what it is”.

The 48-year-old comedian went on to say that he would like to “negotiate the release of DaBaby”, the rapper who faced widespread criticism in July over his discriminatory comments towards people living with HIV/Aids.

Chappelle, who has previously been criticized for his trans-attacking comments in earlier comedy specials, has been widely condemned on social media since Tuesday.

Netflix subscribers have urged the streaming platform to take down the special, with the National Black Justice Coalition saying, “With 2021 on track to be the deadliest year on record for transgender people in the United States … Netflix should know better. Perpetuating transphobia perpetuates violence.”

The rights group went on to add, “Netflix should immediately pull The Closer from its platform and directly apologize to the transgender community.”

Jaclyn Moore, an executive producer of Netflix’s show Dear White People, announced that she will no longer be working with Netflix after Chappelle’s special, arguing that the company “continue[s] to put out and profit from blatantly and dangerously transphobic content”.

Glaad, a media monitoring organization that was founded as a protest against defamatory coverage of the LGBT community, tweeted, “Dave Chappelle’s brand has become synonymous with ridiculing trans people and other marginalized communities.”

Towards the end of The Closer, Chappelle joked that he would no longer make jokes that target the LGBTQ+ community, saying, “I am not telling another joke about you until we are both sure that we are laughing together.

“I’m telling you, it’s done, I’m done talking about it,” he said. “All I ask of your community, with all humility: Will you please stop punching down on my people?” he said in reference to DaBaby and other Black celebrities such as Kevin Hart who have faced criticism for homophobic comments.

Yet despite his pledge, users were quick to argue that Chappelle failed to recognize that Black and LGBTQ+ identities are not mutually exclusive.

“Make no mistake: Black LGBTQ+ and same gender people exist – and have always existed. The fight against oppression is not a zero sum game, and the pervasiveness of white supremacy in the United States is not an excuse for homophobia or transphobia,” said the National Black Justice Coalition statement.


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