Ahhh, thanks so much for writing this. I wanted to write something similar but I felt so frustrated that I couldn't adequately gather my thoughts. All the claps to you.

Two critiques: I think the bit where you say "Bitch please" is a response that has racial undertones in a way that isn't best suited to demonstrating that you care about how Black people feel. That is not to say that you don't, but more so that could have an unexamined impact on Black people who read your piece.

Additionally, the argument I see a lot is that Chapelle is asking people not to punch down on him as a rich individual. I think this is a reductive take, as he clearly meant "his people," aka Black people as an entire demographic.

Aside from those couple of points that I wanted to bring up to hold a fellow white person accountable as we comment on and communicate with Black audiences, I really loved what you had to say. Though I think Chapelle was mainly thinking of the US when he was talking about progress and advantages of the LGBTQ community, we must not forget the places where people are more harshly persecuted and subject to violence and death because of being queer and/or trans. This is a horrific pattern that is only encouraged by making jokes at the expense of trans women.

The fatal flaws that I notice in his act are

1) conflating all LGBTQ people with white people, and therefore ignoring queer BIPOC, and

2) suggesting that Black rights and equity could somehow be accomplished by tearing down LGBTQ people. I do agree that as a white transmasculine person, I have privileges and advantages over the vast majority of Black people. That said, it doesn't make it excusable to shit on trans people to try to make a point. ESPECIALLY about trans women.

He is perpetuating a phenomenon in which trans men are largely overlooked because being a trans woman is viewed as much more threatening. It sucks that he would try to weaponize and objectify a dead trans woman to try to appeal to the audience's beliefs that he cares about trans people, despite saying so many disgusting things about us.

Honestly, if Chapelle's Black fans don't want to "cancel" him, I think they have the right to that opinion. What I don't understand is when people defend his transphobia, or deny that he was being transphobic at all. You can acknowledge that someone is being transphobic and still remain loyal to that person. Ultimately, that signals to me that you don't give a shit about trans people, but what else is new? Most people don't care to think about us unless they are actively hating us. His special is no exception.

The LGBTQ community in the United States is overwhelmingly white, though that is becoming less so in recent years. For that reason, the average queer person has a problem with racism and it's incredibly important that we continue to take that seriously and hold ourselves and others to a standard that we should be better than that. One can comment on the racism of white queer people, which is absolutely a fact, without subsequently deciding that it is now okay to be queer and transphobic as a result. It feels so hypocritical to me for a cishet person of color to state that white people don't get to decide what is racist (which is true), while simultaneously deciding that something isn't transphobic--despite being told countless times by actual trans people that it is.

I do believe that having a majority white LGBTQ community in the United States is contributing to the overall progress of the movement, and that white supremacy continues to subjugate Black folks. I do not believe that the way to challenge that dynamic is to mock trans women's genitals. Trans people are such a small percentage of the population that it's laughable to suggest that we are somehow mainly responsible for the continued subjugation of Black people (especially since trans women are often not white).

I don't agree with his remarks about how easy queer people have it, though I do agree that white people as a whole have it easier than Black folks. I'm not sure how targeting and denigrating queer people is a way to uplift the civil rights movement of Black people when we are not the ones who hold the most power among white people. I can understand a commentary about how it's fucked up that whiteness is helping the queer and trans movement along, when all LGBTQ peoples should be valued inherently. What I don't, and won't, understand is why that commentary must be chock full of harmful stereotypes about gay men and trans women. His words meant to pit two marginalized groups against one another, and it worked beautifully.

Regardless of the words of Chapelle or his followers, I still take racism, white supremacy, and my own privileges seriously. These are things I must individually contend with and discuss with other white people to encourage accountability. All Black people are inherently valuable despite any anti-trans rhetoric any individuals may propagate. I hope for a day where most (or even better, all) white LGBTQ people feel similarly, and a day where most cishet Black people can value LGBTQ people of any race.



Queer, trans, white therapist living in the Pacific Northwest. I write about relationships, poetry, philosophy, mental health, queer stuff and more.

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