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#TransFolksAreNotJokes: Transphobic Radio Comments Spawn Backlash

The hashtag #TransFolksAreNotJokes trended on Twitter following backlash to transphobic remarks made on the popular radio show, "The Breakfast Club."
by John Paul Brammer /
2014 Winter TCA Tour - Day 2
PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 10: Lil Duval, Carly Aquilino speaks onstage during the 'MTV2 - Comedy Panel' panel discussion at the Viacom portion of the 2014 Winter Television Critics Association tour at the Langham Hotel on January 10, 2014 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images

The hashtag #TransFolksAreNotJokes is trending on social media as backlash mounts in response to transphobic remarks made on "The Breakfast Club," a popular, nationally syndicated morning radio show.

Last week, transgender activist and author Janet Mock made an appearance on the show, hosted by Angela Yee, Charlamagne tha God and DJ Envy, to discuss her newly published memoir, "Surpassing Certainty". But Mock quickly found herself giving a "Trans 101" lesson as she was asked about the details of her genitals and casually referred to as "a transgender."

A few days later, co-host DJ Envy asked another guest, comedian Lil Duval, how he would react if a woman told him well into a relationship that she is transgender. His response was brutal.

"This might sound messed up, and I don’t care," he said. "She dying. I can’t deal with that.”

"That's a hate crime," Charlamagne responded. "You can't do that."

DJ Envy then pointed to Mock's book cover, which features her portrait, and asked Duval to admit that she is beautiful.

"Nope," Duval responded. "That n**** doing his thing … ain’t finna get me.”

In response, transgender activist Raquel Willis started the hashtag #TransFolksAreNotJokes and posted a video on Twitter urging others to speak up in support of transgender women.

Willis' request was answered as more LGBTQ advocates and allies posted their responses using the hashtag.

Mock herself responded to the radio segment with an essay in Allure magazine.

"It’s this deplorable rhetoric that leads many cis men, desperately clutching their heterosexuality, to yell at, kick, spit on, shoot, burn, stone, and kill trans women of color," Mock wrote. "Until cis people — especially heteronormative men — are able to interrogate their own toxic masculinity and realize their own gender performance is literally killing trans women, cis men will continue to persecute trans women and blame them for their own deaths."

Transgender advocate Tiq Milan said he was "shocked" by the incident.

"I was just shocked that they would have [Lil Duval] on, give him that scenario just days after Janet was on there with as much graciousness as anybody could muster," Milan told NBC News. "Janet is a beautiful and accomplished woman, and these guys probably found her attractive and didn’t know what to do with that attraction because of their warped sense of who and what transgender women are."

Ira Madison III, a columnist at the Daily Beast, called attention to Charlamagne's willingness to laugh at Lil Duval's comments about murdering a trans woman.

"Charlamagne is often caught laughing along with the vile things that come out of his guests' mouths," Madison wrote. "Duval and Charlamagne laughing about transphobia can give a voice to men who might be prone to violence against trans women."

Milan agreed with Madison's assessment.

"What he shouldn’t have done, he shouldn’t have had Lil Duval on the show," Milan said. "It’s him, but it’s also the fact that 'The Breakfast Club' created a scenario, a hypothetical scenario for it to lead towards violence."

For his part, Lil Duval has remained unapologetic, posting a flippant tweet in response to those calling for him to retract his statements.

A spokesperson for iHeartMedia, the syndicated program’s parent company, said “The Breakfast Club does not condone” the comments made by Lil Duval, referring to them as “thoughtless and insensitive.”

“The Breakfast Club has always been supportive of the LGBTQ community,” iHeartMedia’s Angel Aristone told NBC News via email, and “did push back during the interview letting Duval know what he said was unacceptable."

As far as what can be done to ameliorate the situation, Milan said that heterosexual culture has to change.

"Start having the conversation with other cis heterosexual people in general to create more space for folks to understand that they are cis gender men who are attracted to transgender women," Milan said. "The essence of this national conversation is looking at how and why violence is perpetuated against black transgender women."

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