Olympic gold medalist Caitlyn Jenner made headlines in 2015 when she revealed she was transgender after years of speculation. She officially appeared in a headline-grabbing cover story for Vanity Fair, and after joining Twitter, she broke Barack Obama’s Twitter record by amassing more than a million followers in less than four hours, according to Variety. The Keeping Up With the Kardashians star even starred in her own reality TV show, I Am Cait, which documented her transition and journey into the next chapter of her life.
Of course, Jenner has been the subject of much controversy, and indeed the subject of many jokes. In 2019, “Saturday Night Live” cast member Michael Che came under fire for calling the trans visibility frontrunner a “Fella” during a “Weekend Update” segment, and online backlash ensued, per People. The failed California gubernatorial candidate takes that kind of beating, telling Vanity Fair in the iconic Coming Out issue that she “doesn’t get hung up” on these things. But before she came out and speculated about her gender identity, In Living Color legend and Oscar winner Jamie Foxx rustled some feathers when trying to shed light on Jenner’s situation.
Jamie Foxx comes under fire for a transphobic joke about Caitlyn Jenner
In 2015, before Caitlyn Jenner officially revealed that she’s a transgender woman, Ray star Jamie Foxx had definitely heard some rumors about the Keeping Up With the Kardashians star and decided to join iHeart Radio Music Awards making fun of her. Foxx, who hosted the awards show, made a joke that many considered transphobic.
“We’ve got some groundbreaking performances here tonight, too,” Foxx began, per USA Today. “We have Bruce Jenner who will be doing some musical performances here. He does a him and her duet all by himself.” Page Six reported that many in the audience were unsure how to react to the joke and had a mixed reaction. Foxx then added, “Look, I’m just smashing your balls while I still can.” Backlash quickly erupted on social media, with one Twitter user calling the joke “lazy” and “wickedly spirited.”
Even Jenner’s stepdaughter, Khloé Kardashian, wasn’t amused by the joke, telling The Insider (via the Daily Mail), “I just think it’s a blow. I think it’s very mean.”
Dave Chappelle also faced backlash for transphobic jokes about Caitlyn Jenner
Jamie Foxx wasn’t the last person to make public jokes about Caitlyn Jenner and the transgender community. In 2021, comedian Dave Chappelle dropped his stand-up special The Closer on Netflix, and it definitely raised eyebrows. Many viewers were shocked when Chapelle dubbed herself “Team TERF” (trans-exclusionary radical feminist) and allied with those like JK Rowling who openly challenge the trans community. Jenner was one of those in Chappelle’s line of fire. “Caitlyn Jenner was voted Woman of the Year in her first year as a woman. Isn’t that something?” he said. “I’ve never had a period, isn’t that something?”
Perhaps surprisingly, Jenner decided to team up with Chappelle, tweeting, “Dave Chappelle is 100% right.” The former Olympian added that her decision to support the comedian is “not about the LGBTQ movement,” it’s about it to “wake up the killing spree culture and try to silence freedom of expression”.
Despite Jenner’s support, the backlash to Chappelle’s joke was more severe than any online tweet storm Foxx had endured. On May 3, Chappelle was attacked on stage, and the attacker later revealed that he had lashed out at the comedian for his transphobic jokes. “I identify as bisexual … and I wanted him to know what he calls a trigger,” Isiah Lee told the New York Post. “I wanted him to know that next time he should consider letting his material run by people it might affect first.” So it seems Foxx definitely got off easy compared to Chappelle.