Is It Even Possible For Dave Chappelle To ‘Punch Down’ On Transfolk?
Updated: Apr 18, 2022
‘The Closer’ is imperfect but his humophobic targets are neither stainless nor steel
CC0 2.0 image by John Bauld on Flickr
What amazes me after my boyfriend and I watched Dave Chappelle’s The Closer is how un-transphobic he comes across. The science is squarely on Chappelle’s side when he speaks of biological sex being real, although he calls it gender, which some argue isn’t the same as biological sex, but that’s what happens when the left constantly monkeys around with vocabulary that used to mean actual specifics. Now no one knows what the fuck you’re talking about.
“I’m Team TERF [Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist],” he says proudly and I smiled. I’ve also been called that for asserting one’s natal biology is what one dies with. The only men or genderfluids who can have babies are the ones who still have their original girl parts. As Chappelle points out, every single person entered this world from between the legs of a woman, which pretty much seals the case for vaginas and wombs as evidence of femaleness, regardless of how you identify or whether you can menstruate or not. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be treated as you identify, or worse, murdered, but don’t try to gaslight us about Biology 101.
Biological sex denial stoops to the same level of scientific insanity as those who deny there’s a pandemic. “Man, last year’s flu season was brutal!”
The transgender movement suffers from the same problem as other social justice movements: The loudest, most in-your-face humophobic lunatics get the lioness's share of the press because extremism sells.
Sacred Holy Writ
Donald Trump got to be President with many thanks to the American mass/social media’s Trump obsession above and beyond his eminently more talented, experienced, intellectually superior, and moderate challenger.
The reaction coverage of The Closer is every bit as slanted as for the 2016 campaign. If you come to virtue signal and bash Chappelle, someone will stick a mic in your face or share your Instagram hate thousands of times.
If you dare to praise him, a veritable medieval-style Transquisition will rake you over the fires of social media hell and destroy your life every bit as effectively as a mass shooter with a grudge.
The problem isn’t the trans community overall, but the narcissistic hyper-sensitive pearls-clutchers. #NotAllTrans, not by a long shot. Just the Trump-level self-obsessed ones.
Chappelle’s humor is problematic, for sure, but his critical targets themselves are neither morally stainless nor steel, when they overreact and overstate harm because he dared to challenge their Sacred Holy Writ.
Whether a woman born as a man is exactly the same as a born woman (she’s not; she’s still biologically XY, historically called man or male)
Whether Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria among young people, particularly teenagers, is real (it is)
Why transgender and particularly transmen were fairly rare until the rise of social media
Whether women who haven’t been women for very long get to define what womanhood and being a woman is and means (And why aren’t we arguing about the meaning of the word man?)
Whether it’s a wise idea to give young children and teenagers permanently body-altering hormone blockers and surgery when ample evidence indicates most will ‘outgrow’ their gender dysphoria
Whether not allowing children/teens to transition drives up the suicide rate when youth suicides increased for years before transitioning and social media exploded
Whether people are transitioning for good reasons. Some girls cite not wanting to be a woman in a misogynist society, and some gays say they don’t want to live in a homophobic society. Is there anything less feminist or more homophobic than accepting severe body alteration over living authentically and forcing misogynist homophobes to control themselves?
Now I have to ask: Is it even possible to ‘punch down’ on the trans community and its fawning sycophants when they say things like this?
A Toronto Star columnist defends Margaret Atwood for asking a perfectly reasonable question.
Yes, nothing makes you sound more like a ‘real woman’ or a supporter than old-school misogyny.
Dictating to women what is a ‘real woman’ and a ‘real man’ as men have been doing for millennia.
So glad we have Lewis to define feminism for us now that Simone de Beauvoir is dead!
True, but biological girl parts are at play in all of this. Anyone born with man parts…can’t.
Ideology trumps reality
I recognize how genuinely victimized transfolk are. I know about the skyrocketing murders, assaults, sexual assaults, difficulty getting housing, getting proper healthcare, always looking over your shoulder. But the extremists are plenty experienced at victimizing.
Can one truly ‘punch down’ at critics who behave more like angry men’s-righters than aggrieved women?
I wonder how many level-headed transfolk and genderfluids are sitting at home wincing at progressive websites and muttering, “Please, just STFU! You’re making us all look bad!”
I have to remind myself that what I see on social media and Da Internetz is a world of difference between the transfolk who just want to live their lives in peace versus the loudmouths, misogynists, cis-het haters and downright psychopaths who hog the spotlight and run down or ruin others who disagree with them.
The Transquisition demonstrates how utterly disrespectful to women, hostile to established facts and uncommitted to free speech they are — except for themselves, of course — when they shut down honest debate and squelch anyone who challenges their Holy Sacred Writ. Who crush natal women with the hostility of an anti-masking parent at a school board meeting for daring to challenge the notion that ‘woman’ is whatever an ex-man says she is.
Comedians and authors aren’t murdering trans, non-gender-conforming, and gay people in record numbers in 2021. Neither Chappelle nor J.K. Rowling nor many others unfairly maligned as TERFs have advocated harming other people; they’re asserting indisputable biological facts that are unacceptable only to extremists whose ideology matters more than reality.
Maybe it’s time for embarrassed transfolk and genderfluids to take back their power from their lousy self-appointed ambassadors.
One must ask: If Dave Chappelle is so heretical, Why is it The Closer gets a 95% general audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes?
Nut-kicks to the ol’ hypocrisies
The best humor is the edgiest: That which takes on the hypocrisies of others and, if we’re brave and honest enough, with our own. Chappelle didn’t just take on his humophobic critics, he called out black hypocrisy when he spoke of the pain he felt reading of black people beating up Asians, and mentioned a nineteenth-century ex-slave who built up a thriving business as a cotton gin repairman and eventual plantation farmer who owned dozens of slaves and was an ardent supporter of the Confederacy.
Chappelle is imperfect and his jokes are often angry, and The Closer isn’t always LOL, although several times we paused it to talk about something insightful he’d said. Yes, I think Chappelle deserves criticism for being a bit misogynist — I’m not okay with him regularly referring to women as ‘bitches’ — but I give him a pass because I agree with him more than I don’t and I respect him as an artist. I don’t expect moral purity the way secular fundamentalists on the far left do.
Your mileage may vary.
The Atlantic offered a great take on how The Closer is a Rorschach Test. We all hear something different, just as we all see something different when we look at an inkblot or a cloud.
I can love what someone says without loving everything they say. It’s a question of how much I can accept. I agree with some of Donald Trump’s opening statements — “We need to control immigration more,” or “This country has gotten too politically correct,” yet my agreement stops with his first period. Everything he says after that I find repugnant.
That’s why I didn’t vote for Trump, and why I laugh with Chappelle. The ‘woke’, and especially the Transquisition, don’t understand nuance or that disagreement isn’t abuse or violence.
Here’s the thing about hypocrisy: It’s always a punch-up, not a punch-down, no matter who you are, if you do it right and aim only for the hypocrisy itself.
Conservative comedians like Dennis Miller don’t understand this which is why they come across as mean-spirited.
Nobody likes a nut-kick to their hypocrisies, perhaps especially the complicated trans community with its tangled vulnerabilities and strengths, still in its warp speeding modern infancy, with a lot of tetchy problems arising from being dominated by women’s voices who used to be men, who may not be ready to give up their male entitlement.
J.K. Rowling Can't Be Cancelled
Fellow comedian Damon Wayans called Chappelle a ‘freedom fighter’ and remarked, “I feel like Dave freed the slaves. Yeah, the comedians. We were slaves to PC culture and he just, you know — as an artist he’s Van Gogh. He cut his ear off. He’s trying to tell us it’s OK.”
Jon Stewart’s take:
This is why I love Chappelle. He punches hypocrisies no matter where he finds them. Hypocrisy is always fair game for the best humorists. I love other un-PC comics like Fluffy, Chris Rock and Russell Peters. No surprise all are POC — Mexican, black and Indian-Canadian. All can punch up to white people, but if there’s a good white comedian who can make fun of white hypocrisy and not sound like an awkward virtue-signaller I haven’t found them yet.
Chappelle made a bastard of a point about canceled rapper DaBaby, who once shot and killed a man in a Wal-Mart. “In our country, you can shoot and kill a n***a, but you better not hurt a gay person’s feelings.” Good food for thought. You can’t get canceled for killing a human being under disputable circumstances, but oh no no, you can’t joke about men sucking dick or getting AIDS, however homophobically, because that’s going too far?
Humorous bigotry appropriation
Chappelle exhibited the best of a dying old-school humor that humophobes don’t understand: Making fun of ugly stereotypes by appropriating them.
He jokes how his transwoman friend Daphne Dorman tried to hug him and his being repulsed and shooing her away “because I’m transphobic.” My boyfriend and I both laughed. It was funny. We knew damn well he didn’t do that. He skewered his critics with that one.
They probably thought he was serious.
Chappelle came after feminists and we laughed. He said feminism needs a leader and he volunteered. He knows how ludicrous that sounds to those who understand bigotry appropriation humor. He said all women need to do in response— I’d already guessed the punchline — is to “Suck my dick.” I laughed. He’s not serious. He’s making fun of humorless feminists and he knows their heads will explode.
I wish he wouldn’t call us all ‘bitches’ but I don’t think he hates women. As a power feminist — one who identifies with personal power rather than feminine weakness — I laughed because, for myself anyway, he’s right more often than he’s wrong.
I wouldn’t give Dave Chappelle the Feminist of the Year Award, but I also agree with him that Caitlyn Jenner didn’t deserve Woman of the Year after being a woman for a whole single year.
While The Woman Formerly Known As Bruce appeared on cereal boxes in the 1970s as an Olympics gold medal winner, I was enduring a lot of sexist bullying in school with taunts of having tiny boobies and of being an ‘ugly dog’ and a ‘wolfwoman’. While Jenner and his family had lunch at O.J. Simpson’s, women dealt with workplace sexism, and female sports teams fought Title IX battles to get the same treatment as male teams.
So yeah, I LOL’ed.
Because frankly, I know a helluva lot more about being a woman than Jenner.
CC0 2.0 image by General Mills on Flickr
Maybe a smidge of homophobia
Homophobia? Yeah, I think there’s some crackle to that charge in Chappelle’s tale of ‘accidentally’ assaulting a lesbian he allegedly mistook for a man in a nightclub. Male on female violence is verboten, although if the way he told it was accurate, that even after she established she was a woman she assumed a boxing stance as though she was ready to take him out, well, what sort of dynamic does that set? Should he defend himself? Do women have the right to hit men with impunity because ‘you don’t hit girls’? What if she’s a tough-ass bitch?
I don’t know if this happened or not. Or if it happened the way he claimed. No one has come forward, as far as I know, to tell her side of the story, nor can I find anything on Google to corroborate it. If it’s not true, then yeah, I’d call it self-aggrandizing homophobic humor.
He said he thought modern gays were too sensitive and brittle but didn’t say why. For me, he didn’t have to. Maybe it was unfair to single out brittle gays when those labels could apply to Millennials and Gen Z who I wonder may take so much delight in ‘canceling’ other peoples’ jobs and careers because they were pushed to workworkwork so hard for great jobs one day and then — there weren’t any.
Who’s the real danger to the trans community?
Where Chappelle punches his trans critics square in the hypocrisy is with the tragic tale of his transwoman friend Daphne Dorman.
She sounded like the kind of trans friend I’d want to have. Someone who was strong and confident in herself and could laugh at her tribe.
She attended all his shows and laughed uproariously at everything he said, especially his trans jokes. One day they met and became friends; she was an aspiring comedian and he helped move along her nascent career.
When he got ‘canceled’ on Twitter for supposedly ‘punching down’ on the trans community, Daphne bravely challenged her tribe.
Daphne herself then became the target of a brutal Twitter Transquisition and shortly after she jumped off the roof of a building.
As Bill Maher has often noted, “The left, unlike the right, eats its own.”
“I don’t know what was going on in her life,” Chappelle said, “… but I bet dragging her didn’t help.”
When I dug a bit into Daphne’s life I found she emerged from family dysfunction and PTSD and had struggled with suicidal thoughts for years, as so many transfolk do, a close friend confirmed. [There used to be a link here but it's gone now.]
So what happens when someone like that is subjected to the torches ’n’ pitchforks howlers on social media?
One wonders who’s the real threat to transfolk: Dave Chappelle, or the type of fanatics who today turn on their own as they did Daphne Dorman.
Does that fuel positive sentiment for the trans community?
Trans protests have erupted everywhere over The Closer, including a staged Netflix walkout, yet 95% of the audience loves it. Critics, meanwhile, practically demand a Braveheart execution.
Maybe we’re all transphobic, or maybe the social media Transquisition has some serious soul-searching to do.
Dared to say that a person who menstruates is a woman. “A Martyr To Fanaticism” from the Library of Congress with no known copyright restrictions
When I’m not hiding under my bed with my TERFy transphobia (damn, I really need to — ahCHOO! — clean under here more!) I help women and others reclaim their power on my website, Grow Some Labia. You can also subscribe to my free Substack newsletter!
This post originally appeared on Medium on October 26th, 2021, but a few days later my account was suspended. Medium never explained why but I'm quite certain this was the reason. Do. Not. Question. Trans. Ideology. On. Medium.