MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - Minneapolis City Council President Andrea Jenkins has a message for comedian Dave Chappelle, whose show at the First Avenue in downtown Minneapolis was moved to a new venue Wednesday after a public backlash.
Jenkins has followed the issue closely. An artist and performer herself, she became the first Black openly transgender woman elected to public office in the United States when she joined the City Council in 2018, and became the council president this year.
She wants Chappelle to know that she admires his work, but in her view, the skepticism he has voiced about trans identity has consequences. She points to the trend of states passing laws targeting trans youth, such as bans on trans participation in youth sports or laws preventing them from using bathrooms reflective of their gender identity or accessing gender-affirming healthcare. The ACLU has collected data indicating that 2022 is already a record-setting year for laws targeting LGBTQ rights, with most of those laws targeting trans youth.
"The real-world consequences are that it's okay to criminalize, villainize, traumatize transgender, gender non-conforming, gender-creative people. That our lives don't matter. That you should conform to the American standards of gender if you want to be respected in this culture and society. And I think that's extremely dangerous," she told Fox 9.
Chappelle was scheduled to perform at First Avenue Wednesday at 8 p.m., but the venue released a statement just four hours before the show they canceled the event, saying it had been moved to the Varsity Theater.
Controversy has surrounded Chappelle's views on transgender people since the release of his Netflix special "Closer" last October. Chappelle declared himself to be a trans-exclusionary radical feminist (TERF) and said that "Gender is a fact," implying that it is a fixed state rather than a fluid identity.
Chappelle's comments stuck with Jenkins at the time to the point where she wrote a poem in response, "Mistaken Identity," which she has performed several times over the last year, including in June at a festival in Connecticut.
Jenkins says she’d like to give him a copy in the hopes that it would make clear to him that trans people have played an important role in the Black community's push for civil rights. "We are 100% integral to the struggle that I think Dave Chappelle is about as well. And I hope that that poem could shed some insight into that," she said.
Despite her criticism, Jenkins remains a fan of Chappelle's work.
"I will add, I think Dave Chappelle is a brilliant comedian. He is probably the voice of his generation. And I really enjoy his brand of comedy. And I hope that he can atone for his messages surrounding the trans and gender-nonconforming people so I can continue to buy his expensive ass tickets to see his show," she said.