Dave Chappelle, Ricky Gervais and Bill Maher and Trans Women
A friend recently asked if I was going to watch Ricky Gervias in his new Neflix special, SuperNature. Here’s what I said:
If I wanted to see an old man trying to come to terms with his attraction to trans women, I’d go on tinder.
Dave Chappelle, Ricky Gervais and Bill Maher have all focused their comedy shows on trans women over the past little while. For Dave, it’s been even longer. He devoted nearly 40 minutes of The Closer to talking about trans people. They all frame it as edgy comedy. I don’t think it is, though. Edgy comedy transforms the comedian by pushing their own edges of self, and yet are these men really changed by their trans jokes?
Edgy would be for an old cis man in our culture to fearlessly say he loves trans women. Not just as a mental concept or detached social commentary, but in an embodied sexual and romantic way. However, trans people are held at a distance in their comedy, and yet ironically sexually obsessed over. Why? I believe there’s a deeper reason for their interest.
Young people on the internet had the whole “Are trans women gay?” discussion 7 years ago. It arose from their dicks getting hard to photos of trans women. It confused them, but by facing their confusion, they admitted their own attraction. They accepted it and moved on. No big deal. The older comedians don’t have the courage to face themselves, so as that discussion flows downstream to them, they repeat the discourse, but in a disconnected way.
When I go on dating apps, young guys are amazing. They treat me just like any other woman. They’ve done the inner work, and they’ve processed their own fears. Older guys have all sorts of fears and hang ups. It’s honestly like babysitting.
They tell me I’m beautiful, but want to keep me a secret.
They want to go out, but sit at the back of the restaurant, in the dark.
They want to hook up, but not introduce me to friends.
This is a self acceptance issue. Dave, Ricky and Bill are exploring this same topic that young guys did half a decade ago, but they’re pretending this inner exploration is about cutting edge comedy.
Here’s the thing. When they degrade trans women through their humor, they’re really talking about their own unprocessed shame, guilt and fear. It’s projection. It’s running away from their own hard dick. How do I know this? I’ve seen it a thousand times. I’ve babysat a hundred or more Daves, Rickys and Bills.
When Dave Chappelle finished his last Netflix special, he said it would be the last time he joked about trans people. He’s still making jokes about us. Why? He has more work to do, and it’s not social commentary. It’s inner work. When that inner work is done, I’ll be waiting in a restaurant, with a window seat. I hope he gets there.