Last year, 22 violent deaths of trans people were recorded by the Human Rights Campaign and, this year, the number of violent deaths has hit 15 already. In 2015, the U.S. Transgender Survey reported that 40 percent of trans individuals have attempted suicide. These statistics are hard to grapple with and, in regards to the death of trans individuals, the numbers are almost certainly higher.
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It's essential to remember these facts because transgender people face violence every time they walk out of their front door and now, thanks to the radio show, they've got to hear violence hurled at them on the radio, as well. On Friday's episode of Breakfast Club, a radio show that loves to refer to the transgender community as "transgenders" and bills itself as "The World's Most Dangerous Morning Show," the hosts made sure that they lived up to their moniker thanks to an aggressive and appalling transphobic rant from guest Lil Duval.
The stand-up comic was asked by fellow host DJ Envy what he would do if he found out he slept with a trans woman. To be clear, that's an already problematic and transphobic question when asked to anyone--let alone someone like Duval who revels in his own hypermasculinity. His response to the question? "This might sound messed up and I don't care: she's dying."
Among his other choice remarks, he said "that ain't a girl, that's a boy" and talked about "manipulation." When host Charlamagne Tha God attempted to intervene and say that you can't say you'll kill trans women, Duval tried and failed to clarify, stating: "I didn't say I was gonna kill transgenders. I said, if one did that to me, and they didn't tell me, I'ma be so mad I'd probably kill them." When pressed by host Angela Yee to be "politically correct" and keep his transphobia off the air, he said that he's a comedian so the rules don't apply to him.
"That's the good thing I like about being me," he tried to explain. "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."
In the aftermath of his transphobic tirade, trans actress and activist Lavern Cox stepped in to educate Duval. "Some folks think it's ok to joke about wanting to kill us," she wrote on her Twitter account on 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."
Despite the backlash, Duvall's response thus far on Twitter has been to make a joke out of it with the "shrug" emoji while complaining that he wished he had something to sell to make money off of the controversy because, for him, transgender lives and the murder of so many in the community is just another punchline.