Dear Men of "The Breakfast Club": Trans Women Aren’t a Prop, Ploy, or Sexual Predators op-ed

Janet Mock addresses the controversy following her appearance on the problematic radio show.

I was not naïve when I entered the TriBeCa studio of “The Breakfast Club,” a hip-hop radio show that bills itself as “the world’s most dangerous morning show,” hosted by Angela Yee, Charlamagne tha God, and DJ Envy, on July 18.

I had watched previous interviews over the years and was familiar with their provocative and oftentimes problematic brand of talk. For instance, I remembered their interview with trans dancer and online personality Sidney Starr in 2013, and I recalled many times when they derogatorily used the term “tranny” with casual disdain. I witnessed the male hosts critique the bodies of black cis and trans women alike, as if we’re objects on display, open for dissection.

Yet I was hopeful that I could use the show’s vast platform to speak directly to their predominantly black and Latinx listeners, who are often excluded from the conversations held in mainstream LGBT spaces (which are largely white, moneyed, and concerned with the centering of cis folk). I hoped I could make listeners aware of the lived realities of their trans sisters, and let them know that we deserve to be seen, heard, and acknowledged without the threat of harassment, exclusion, and violence.

My ultimate goal was to be accessible — to not judge, to call in rather than call out, and, above all, to exercise patience as the (straight cis male) hosts processed my existence. It’s rare that I do Trans 101 lecturing anymore, because I’ve already done that work with my first book, Redefining Realness, which was filled with plain speak and explanatory commas about definitions, statistics, and context.


Just when I thought the experience was behind me, I woke up to a text from a friend a few days later (just after Trump’s attempt to ban trans folk from the military) asking if I was OK. I didn’t know what she was referring to — I was afraid something had happened to a mutual friend. My heart skipped.

Then I checked Twitter and saw a video clip of “The Breakfast Club” interview with comedian Lil Duval, whose name I hadn’t even heard before. In the clip (an extended version can be seen here on TMZ), DJ Envy poses a hypothetical question to his guest about dating and sleeping with a woman who discloses that she’s trans after four months of courtship.

“This might sound messed up and I don’t care,” Duval says. “She dying. I can’t deal with that.”

“That’s a hate crime,” Charlamagne says. “You can’t do that.”

“You manipulated me to believe in this thing,” Duval says, before continuing, “If one did that to me, and they didn’t tell me, I’mma be so mad I’d probably going to want to kill them.”


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