This article may contain triggers for victims of hate crimes.
Trans actress Laverne Cox emphasized on Sunday that jokes about violence towards trans people can be seriously dangerous for the community, responding to a viral clip of stand-up comic Lil Duval saying he would “kill” a trans woman if he discovered he had sex with her.
“Some folks think it’s ok to joke about wanting to kill us,” Cox wrote on her Twitter account Sunday. “We have free speech but that speech has consequences and trans folks are experiencing the negative consequences with our lives. It hurts my spirit cause this isn’t funny. Our lives matter. Trans murder isn’t a joke.”
Activists and allies for the trans community are upset after Lil Duval’s remarks from a Friday “Breakfast Club” interview went viral over the weekend. In the interview, host DJ Envy asked Lil Duval what his reaction would be if he found out he slept with a trans woman.
“This might sound messed up and I don’t care: she dying,” Duval told the radio show’s three hosts.
Duval also told the hosts that when it comes to transgender women, “that ain’t a girl, that’s a boy.” He told the hosts that he felt there should be repercussions for that type of “manipulation” but until then, Duval would have his own. When host Charlamagne Tha God jumped in and tried to tell the comedian he couldn’t go around killing trans women, Duval made an poor clarification.
“I didn’t say I was gonna kill transgenders,” Duval attempted to backtrack. “I said, if one did that to me, and they didn’t tell me, I’mma be so mad I’d probably kill them.”
Host Angela Yee told him he should be “politically correct,” but Duval responded, saying that comedians shouldn’t have to be.
“That’s the good thing I like about being me,” he said. “I can say what I want and do what I want and people understand where I’m coming from. They understand I’m not coming from a place of malice. They know I’m just speaking my mind.”
Duval acknowledged on Sunday the growing backlash on his Twitter account, but refused to apologize or address the trending hashtag, #BoycottBreakfastClub.
A few days prior, the show brought Janet Mock on to discuss her role in the transgender community and educate listeners on her journey. Mock told the hosts about her previous partners, her childhood, and what makes being transgender different to sexual identity.
“So for me, it wasn’t about feeling I was attracted to men or being attracted to masculinity, it was about my own embodiment about how I wanted to show up, not just in bed but also in the world,” Mock told the hosts. “It was before I even had any consciousness of sexuality. I wasn’t thinking about being attracted to boys.”
The Human Rights Campaign recorded 22 violent deaths of trans men and women last year. So far in 2017, HRC has recorded 15 violent deaths of mostly trans women of color. That number could be even higher, as often the victims gender identity is unknown or not properly reported to authorities. The 2015 U.S Transgender Survey reported that 40 percent of trans individuals have made suicide attempts in their lifetime.