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Just How Transphobic is the Dave Chappelle Netflix Special?

CW// Transphobia, Transmisogyny

If you’re looking to spend a truly hideous hour of your life listening to man make jokes that were absolutely cutting edge in 1978, you’re in for a rare treat with Dave Chappelle’s latest Netflix special “The Closer.”

Want to know what those jokes are? Well, I’ll spare you the pain of having to watch this and sum things up in a nutshell.

  • Within the first five minutes of the special, Chappelle makes a joke about COVID that plays into the harmful myth of COVID being an “asian disease.” In the next breath, he jokes about violence against Asian-Americans. 
  • Next, Chappelle makes a joke about how Jews are aliens trying to take over the world.
  • Next up, DaBaby. Chappelle explains that DaBaby shot and killed a man in Walmart at one point without it hurting his career. After the rapper made his harmful comments about PLWH at a Florida show, he got canceled.
  • To Chappelle, this means that gay people are treated better than Black people. He also seems to assume that all gay people are white and that intersectionality doesn’t exist.
  • Next up, some jokes about how Chappelle beat up a lesbian in a club after misgendering her: “I whooped the toxic masculinity out of that bitch!” 
  • Now we’re getting to the real good stuff: a joke about how lesbians are too ugly to be raped. Wow, I love living in 1978!
  • “These transgenders…want me dead.”  

Woah boy. Let’s hold on a minute here, because we’re getting to the real meat of the special: Chappelle’s views about trans people. Yesterday, news sites proudly proclaimed that Dave Chappelle identifies as “Team TERF,” referencing his vocal support of TERF queen J.K. Rowling. If you can believe it, his special is even more transphobic. 

Chappelle explains that every time he does a show he’s scared, and that he’s “searching around the crowd for knuckles and adam’s apples” to see where the “threat” might be coming from. He then talks about an encounter with a trans woman in a bathroom and explains that he’d “prefer” a trans man show up next to him at the urinals “because it would be funny.” 

I don’t think we need to go any further down this road. The fact that Chappelle uses the suicide of a trans woman as his closing anecdote tells us all we need to know. Chappelle subscribes to full-on, wholesale transmisogyny. He doesn’t see trans women as women, but as threatening symbolic being trying to take away his masculinity. Honestly, that really sounds like a “you” problem, Dave. You didn’t need to bring it up to an audience, and you didn’t need to make it the basis of your entire stand-up show. 

INTO reached out to Netflix for a comment. We’re still waiting to hear back. In the meantime, let’s hand it over to the trans internet. Dave Chappelle has showed his ass not for the first time, but hopefully for the last time. 

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