Dave Chappelle defends JK Rowling, declares himself ‘Team TERF’

Dave Chappelle has a laugh with friends while out in NYC

At one point, Dave Chappelle was probably one of the comedic voices of his generation. But is he still regarded that way? It feels more like he’s leaning into becoming a right-wing troll, or the kind of comedian who thinks being a “contrarian” is defined by punching down on marginalized communities. I lost faith in Chappelle’s comedy around the 2016 election, when he blamed Hillary Clinton for all of Donald Trump’s bullsh-t, and then a year later, he mocked Louis CK’s victims. Chappelle has a new Netflix special (the sixth of his Netflix deal) called The Closer. In this new special, he talks about TERFs and JK Rowling’s transphobia. It’s a huge mess.

Chappelle doubled down on transphobic jokes by weighing in on comments J.K. Rowling made in December 2019. The “Harry Potter” author conflated sex with gender and defended ideas suggesting that changing one’s biological sex was a threat to her own gender identity.

“They canceled J.K. Rowling – my God,” Chappelle says. “Effectually she said gender was a fact, the trans community got mad as (expletive), they started calling her a TERF. I’m Team TERF. I agree. I agree, man. Gender is a fact.”

Chappelle says he has “never had a problem with transgender people,” but experts say the use of TERF is problematic for the trans community. TERF is an acronym that stands for “trans exclusionary radical feminists.” The term describes feminists who are transphobic. In his special, Chappelle gave the proper definition but added, “They look at trans women the way we Blacks might look at Blackface.”

TERF views “deny the validity of transgender people and transgender identities,” said Sarah McBride, national press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign.

[From USA Today]

“They look at trans women the way we Blacks might look at Blackface…” Meaning what exactly? That Dave Chappelle does not see transgender women as women, he sees them wearing the “blackface” of womanhood? What the actual f–k. I’m incredibly disappointed in Dave Chappelle’s social politics these days and I find it so hard to wrap my mind around the fact that he was once so in-touch with the social issues of the day, and then he just turned into an out-of-touch conservative dude who thinks it’s funny to mock transgender people.

Dave Chappelle wearing denim on denim with plenty of holes and carrying a pack of smokes as he arrives for his performance at The Hollywood Palladium

Photos courtesy of Backgrid, Avalon Red.

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57 Responses to “Dave Chappelle defends JK Rowling, declares himself ‘Team TERF’”

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  1. Soni says:

    Dave thinks that all trans people are white, which means that any oppression they face is nothing compared to the racism that he, an extremely rich and famous cis-het black man, is subjected to. Basically he thinks that LGBTQ people are harming progress for black people?

    Whatever, he literally has hundreds of millions of dollars he can fall off a cliff.

    • Otaku fairy says:

      He also isn’t above racist jokes. There was a time where a misogynistic quote from him would have been championed all over the place and anything not male that criticized it would be dismissed as some undiscplined little thing having no sense of humor. But he just gets messier and messier.

    • detritus says:

      Marsha P Johnston and Stonewall apparently don’t exist.

      He seems so focused on the suffering of rich black men.

    • DIA says:

      No he doesn’t. He just see that the treatment of white trans women is different to that of black trans women. Further to that, he is speaking on the fact that the LGBTQIA plus movement for rights is moving much quicker thank Black people as a collective receiving rights, empathy, equity and compassion far slower because the former includes white people and their privilege.

      The Baby has literally beaten other black people up, punched a woman, been colourist and killed someone but the deal breaker for his career is saying ignorant falsehoods about gay people. Can you not see the hypocrisy or is it your privilege clouding your view.

      Simply put, it goes white men, white women (both cis) Asian people, white LGBTQIA plus people and then everyone else and then black people and then trans black people. But if you say it you’re demonising people.

      Also, stop saying he is a rich black man like that protects his friends and family from racism, discrimination and death. Yes, his experience might be more insulated now but to many he is just a n*£&er and that’s the problem.

  2. BlueSky says:

    He’s just an attention seeking troll at this point. He knows this is going to get the press
    that he wants. I agree with what Katt Williams said awhile back that maybe comedy isn’t for you if the only way you can do it is to punch down. He’s a millionaire with a built in fan base who are probably just as transphobic and misogynist as he is so he’s not worried about being “cancelled”.
    comedians don’t believe they should be held accountable for their “jokes”.

    • STRIPE says:

      Quick detour on Kat Williams – I truly do not think people realize how intelligent he is, he doesn’t get nearly enough credit. He was so so right in this regard as well. If you can’t do your comedy without punching down, that says more about your comedic ability than anything.

    • LWT00 says:

      Kat is one of my favorites for this very reason, among others.

    • FilmTurtle says:

      Kat Williams has always been underrated by the mainstream. I’ve never been clear on why.

  3. Nev says:

    ?????????????he sounds so dumb.

  4. Genevieve says:

    He’s confusing gender (which is a social construct) with sex. Either way, he’s an idiot.

    • cassandra says:

      I’ve seen that pretty consistently with anti-trans people. It seems to be a deliberate obtuseness a lot of the time

    • AlpineWitch says:


      I do not get why people keep confusing sex with gender, it’s becoming inexcusably ignorant…

  5. Kviby says:

    He is Muslim (i think for over 20 years) and being transgender does not fit within that faith. (Actually, neither does smoking cigarettes.) And as of now it’s not a faith that tries to change to get more parishioners (and their money) like other faiths. (There are a few progressive mosques though). One thing a lot of Muslims are proud of is that the Quran has never been changed. Men are not supposed to dress or accessorize like women and are also supposed to have a certain shape of beard (unless the hair doesn’t grow there.) women are also not supposed to dress “like men” so even the baggiest, not at all sexy, pants are still considered haram by many today, because women should wear modest skirts or dresses instead. You can wear pants inside your skirt sure but you need a skirt/dress as the “look.” Based on this, being a transgender man or woman is haram in Islam. If you look at Muslim female influencers most (or the most successful) do not follow the no pants thing and don’t wear hijab 100% covering hair, so maybe the next generation will be different.

    • Amy Bee says:

      Are you Muslim?

    • ME says:

      Pakistan is a Muslim country. Many of the women there wear Salwar Kameez (a long tunic teamed with a wide legged trouser). Muslims are not all the same.

      • Kviby says:

        True, that is the second (to Indonesia) highest population Muslim nation. Like you said, it’s under a long tunic. Not pants with a shirt instead of a long skirt with a shirt. Everyone has their level of modesty and way of dressing. Men don’t seem, in my experience as open as women are to women dressing in “new” ways. But the big trousers trend is huge and a convenient and comfy way to dress so it’s currently pretty popular with women who dress modestly, at least it is in North America.

    • GrnieWnie says:

      pretty much all orthodox religions are like this. I grew up in an evangelical Christian sect that pretty much had all the same beliefs. Same with Orthodox Jews. Religious extremism or traditionalism is the same, no matter the faith.

    • detritus says:

      I’ve always heard this is incorrect?

      Islam is against homosexuality, but they actually support gender transition, just in a bit of a messed up way because it’s the ‘alternative’ to being gay. It comes with another huge set of issues because it links sexuality with gender. So a man cannot love another man, but he can love someone who is socially presenting as MtF.

  6. Lorelei says:

    Well, that’s disappointing. I’ve never been a fan of his, but neither did I dislike him; I just never thought about him very much at all. I was neutral. Now, I actively dislike him, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels that way. Well done, Dave.

  7. Amy Bee says:

    Just watch old episodes of Chapelle Show and you will see that Dave was never in touch with social issues.

    • terra says:

      This. When I still watched live TV – thank you, internet and inventor of the DVR! – and episodes would come on The Comedy Channel after whatever I was watching before them ended, I remember wondering what in the hell other people went so crazy over.

      But then, as I’ve said here before, after having met Chappelle several times when I was a kid, I was never that impressed by him. Just as now, if I find someone lacking in real life I have a hard time enjoying media featuring them. My grandmother thinks I’m silly for not being able to disconnect reality from fantasy, but I don’t even bother trying any more.

  8. ME says:

    The thing is this dude won’t be cancelled, at all…and he knows it. Just like Kanye. The more sh*t they talk, the more popular they become. I don’t understand it, I don’t get it.

    • Amy Bee says:

      No one gets cancelled.

      • ME says:

        I’m honestly trying to think of someone that truly got cancelled. How about OJ Simpson? Bill Cosby, R. Kelly, Prince Andrew? I don’t know. Maybe no one ever has.

      • Lady D says:

        Harvey W. got cancelled. At least until he gets out.

      • ME says:

        @ Lady D

        That is true but he’s in jail so he can’t really be out and about in Hollywood. Hopefully he never gets out and we don’t have to find out if he’s truly cancelled or not.

      • Courtney B says:

        Louis CK is coming near me. I can’t remember whether it’s to Philly (40 mins away) or to the university here. I saw it in upcoming events for the area and was like ‘blech’.

  9. Theothermia says:

    I really don’t need cis het dudes to be weighing in on womanhood at all.

  10. Wiglet Watcher says:

    Netflix will get some fallout for this.

    • Soni says:

      No, they won’t. Dave has said the exact same awful stuff before and literally nothing has happened, except Netflix gets more publicity and Dave gets more money.

  11. MipMip says:

    Wow, he equated trans women with racist assholes in blackface makeup. Just wow.

    He is not progressive and never has been. He is a black man. He doesn’t care about anything that does not benefit him as a black man. It’s why he calls out racism… that affects him, as a black man. He does not give two shits about black women or any minority besides… black men. He is effectively upholding the patriarchy and his millions. Barf.

    • Lizzie Bathory says:

      Yeah, he’s never been progressive. He just called out American racism. He’s literally taking the side of a white British billionaire whose TERF rhetoric disproportionately harms Black trans women. And whenever someone calls JKR on it, she cries white woman tears. Hell of a team to pick, Dave.

  12. Stacy Dresden says:

    Sad. I hate this.

  13. Drea says:

    I saw him in 2013 and he was well on his way to being a troll.

    All he did was get up on stage, smoke about a pack of cigarettes, and complain about his life. It was awful. And I was a big Chappelle fan back in the day.

    • Kate says:

      Even back in Chappelle Show days, his standup shows were kind of like that though. But anyway yes he’s been on his way to troll-ville for a while. His last Netflix special a few years ago had me grimacing a lot. He will mock just about any marginalized group that’s not black men and then make it a double joke by mocking anyone who takes offense.

  14. Valentina says:

    Chappelle seems the kind of person that is very thoughtful and plugged in about the ways in which they are oppressed or marginalized but completely dismissive of any types of bigotry that they themselves are not facing.

  15. Otaku fairy says:

    He basically said a few years ago that it’s ok for queer poc and woc to have feelings about our rights, as long as we remember what comes first and never compare misogyny, homophobia, or transphobia to racism. People don’t realize that one can’t say shit like that and then claim to be about equality. It’s saying cishet boys and men getting hurt, victim-blamed, and killed because of hate are more important than anyone else going through those things. It limits queer people, girls, and women in communities of color to only being taken seriously because of the experiences of cishet men in.

  16. just a small town girl says:

    DC has had zero growth since his heyday. His shit was funny then, but now that we know better, we do better. Except he doesn’t, he still thinks his racism is the worst thing you can experience and absolutely loathes women and especially black women or otherwise marginalized women.

  17. Rapunzel says:

    As an CIS-gender but intersex women, I’m so dammed tired of folks
    A) conflating gender and sex.
    B) saying science proves there’s only two sexes/genders.
    C) that sex/gender should be determined by chromosomal makeup.

    Chappelle can kick rocks. He’s not funny.

    • AlpineWitch says:

      Non-binary intersex here, I am so tired of all this ignorance too…..

      Science is used as an excuse for bigotry while nature is a lot more varied than people think, certainly many of us don’t fit into predetermined boxes.

  18. Anastasia says:

    I’m so glad it’s not just me. I was watching a couple of his specials, and I was like, “ummm, I thought I remembered him being on top of his shit, not like this weird misogynist shit.”

    It was not funny, and he felt like he was just complaining the entire time.

    • terra says:

      From his his early 2000s Monica Lewinsky jokes – he was always on about weird misogynist shit. That was the only Chappelle special I ever watched and was quite enough for me.

  19. Valerie says:

    Piece of shit.

  20. SISYPHUS says:

    Drag is more aligned with Blackface. Trans women are women.

    • outoftheshadows says:

      Drag’s not really aligned with blackface, at all. Drag queens aren’t misogynist woman-haters mocking femininity. They are artists who use gender as a form of play to satirize, excoriate, and lampoon our obsession with gender, and there are many many forms of drag, including drag kings.

      I agree with you about transwomen, though.

  21. Lunasf17 says:

    I don’t understand how this man has such a following! I’ve never found him that funny and just never got why (mostly men) fawn over him. His “humor” seems like he just says crazy things and that makes him an genius. He has no charisma at all. Why these outlets keep giving him a platform is beyond me.

  22. Monica says:

    He’s now pretty much every guy who gets money and gets older.

  23. FilmTurtle says:

    Cue the apologists who will sniff about how it’s the job of a comedian to be provocative and nobody is allowed to be funny anymore and everyone is offended by everything, blah blah blah.

    I assume there will be no consequences as a result of his latest trolling, but I wonder what will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

    Really shows increased trans visibility is having an effect: “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.”

  24. MsGnomer says:

    Chapelle is so problematic. But, I see Russell Brand has been trying to start his own cult. What a world.

  25. MsGnomer says:

    PS Chapelle is stuck in his own sexist mindset/ is a really lazy thinker. Funny that he believes he is so clear on everything. I suppose thats the real comedy we are seeing up on stage when he performs.

  26. Mujib says:

    The context of the entire performance from which these comments are taken is much more nuanced and supportive than anyone here is giving him credit for. It looks like no one has watched his performance. If you say, “I don’t need to watch it, I know what he said,” you’re missing the point.

    • nah says:

      lol no it wasn’t. just because he backs down and softens the punch every now and again doesn’t make the bit less mean spirited. the sentiment reflected here is pretty accurate, and nobody should feel like they need to go watch his stupid special just to get the right ‘context’.

      dave is an overrated hack who hasn’t done anything funny in almost 20 years. he can sail back into the horizon for all I care, and good riddance.

    • DIA says:

      Finally, someone with the wherewithal to watch it and actually listen.

  27. Tori says:

    For a comedian, he’s just not funny. Simple as that. He’s also not clever