Daphne Dorman was 44 when she killed herself in 2019 after defending Chappelle for jokes made during a Netflix special that year.
‘When she did that, the trans community dragged that b**** through Twitter,’ Chappelle told the audience in The Closer, his latest standup act on Netflix that has had many critics calling for him to be cancelled.
‘For days, they was going in on her and she was on her own because she’s funny,’ he continued, hinting the harassment might have contributed to her suicide.
‘It’s a true story; my heart was broken. I don’t know what was going on, but I’ll bet dragging her didn’t help.’
Dorman, who began transitioning to a woman in 2014, was an up-and-coming comedian who opened a show for Chappelle.
Daphne Dorman, 44, was a transgender amateur comic opened for comedian Dave Chappelle
Her humor veiled a dark past mired by a troubled childhood that left her with severe PTSD, her family said.
But despite her inner demons, she tapped into her comedy to make the world around her laugh, her sister said.
‘Just from the word “go” she was always very funny,’ Becky Kugler told DailyMail.com. ‘She could make the sentence, “The dog took a crap” hysterically funny. It’s just the way she can use her descriptive words and how she worded things.’
Dorman drew criticism after defending Chappelle’s show Sticks and Stones, which took jabs at gay and trans people, with tweet on August 28, 2019.
‘Punching down requires you to consider yourself superior to another group,’ she tweeted. ‘@DaveChappelle doesn’t consider himself better than me in any way. He isn’t punching up or punching down.
‘He’s punching lines. That’s his job and he’s a master of his craft.’
Dorman (right) told her sister Chappelle was ‘f***ing awesome’ and said she wished people were less sensitive. Dorman was mentioned in Chappelle’s 2019 special Sticks and Stones
Dorman was born William Richard Brown Jr. on April 30 1975, and had a ‘very traumatic childhood’ growing up in Pennsylvania, said Kugler.
She declined to elaborate on those troubled years, except to say they left the siblings with extreme post-traumatic stress disorder that Dorman struggled to cope with.
She seemed ‘very sad’ during their last text exchange, Kugler said.
Dorman posted a note on Facebook October 11, 2019, before taking her own life that day.
‘I’m sorry,’ she wrote. ‘I’ve thought about this a lot before this morning. How do you say “goodbye” and “I’m sorry” and “I love you” to all the beautiful souls you know? For the last time.
‘There’s no good way. That’s what I got out of all that thought.
‘To those of you who are mad at me: please forgive me. To those of you who wonder if you failed me: you didn’t. To those of you feel like I failed you: I did and I’m sorry and I hope you’ll remember me in better times and better light.’
The aspiring comedian committed suicide in San Francisco on October 11, 2019
Dorman faced backlash from the trans community after publicly aligning with Chappelle
Chappelle told his audience in The Closer that Dorman was hounded for days over the tweet
Chappelle’s transgender jokes on The Closer have drawn the ire of the LGBQT community, but Dorman’s sisters brushed off the critics.
Kugler said Dorman likely would have found some of his material funny, and that she wouldn’t have taken offense at his comedic fodder.
‘In her mind, he wasn’t giving (the LBGQT community) lack of support, nor was he giving them support. He was making jokes because that’s what comedians do,’ Kugler told DailyMail.com. ‘In her opinion, you make jokes about everything.’
Dorman’s other sibling, Brandy, told The Daily Beast: ‘Dave loved my sister and is an LGBTQ ally.’
Dorman defended Chappelle by saying ‘he doesn’t consider himself better than me in any way’
Daphne posted a note on Facebook before taking her own life, saying: ‘I love you all. I’m sorry’
Dorman, pictured with her sister Becky, was born William Richard Brown Jr. on April 30, 1975
Dorman (pictured at left with her mom and little sister Becky) had a ‘very traumatic childhood’
Exactly what I said here & what Dave said without spelling it out. Dephine was trolled by the transgender community just because she vouched for Dave. Trolled to suicide. Dave told the suicide in a joke , but he described how Dephane killed herself. Which he describes as hardcore
— Truth (@truth50252066) October 12, 2021
The oldest of 4 siblings, the ‘hysterically funny’ woman could always be counted on for a laugh
‘She was bringing up our childhood … she didn’t feel it was fair that our father didn’t lose out on raising children, even though he was the one causing all of our PTSD now,’ she told DailyMail.com. ‘She was very sad and that’s why I truly believe that’s what she meant by ‘she failed’.
‘She feels she failed at getting past our trauma.’
Dorman spent much of her adult years trying to find peace in her life; she tried therapy and ‘explored every religion out there,’ her sister said.
She was known among friends and family for her thought-provoking conversations, affinity for memorizing random facts, ‘hysterically funny’ personality.
Dorman spoke to her sister on a weekly basis but had not seen her physically since the gender transition.
Kugler said she learned of her sibling’s plan to make a drastic life change about 12 years ago, when Dorman called her from her then-Texas home.
‘I explained to her that I just don’t care what she did, as long as she was happy and safe,’ Kugler said. ‘That was my biggest concern and at the time she was living in Texas, and I just told her the Texas it was not the state to be in if she was going to do this, because they’re not safe.’
Some people have called for The Closer to be cancelled due to its insensitive content
But Dormer (pictured at left) would not have been offended by his jokes, her sister said
Dorman then moved to California, where Kugler saw her for the last time during a 2013 family vacation. The siblings continued to communicate on at least a weekly basis through video calls.
Kugler said she wasn’t offended by Chappelle’s special, but she understands that other people might have been.
‘My opinion, nor Daphne’s estimated opinion, does not mean people’s feelings weren’t crushed over Dave Chappelle’s show,’ she said. ‘People’s reactions and emotions cannot be belittled or pushed to the side.
‘I still support everyone and respect everyone’s right to be treated like a human being. We don’t all have to agree on what’s funny, what’s crossing the line, or where any of those lines are. If you don’t like something, you’re entitled to that opinion, but to demand everyone see it your way won’t work.’
Chappelle in The Closer commented on the anatomy of transwomen, joking that they lacked real female reproductive organs and that they did not have blood but ‘beet juice.’
Dorman’s best friend, Mia Satya, said she bonded with Dorman more than five years ago over mutual interests such as cartography, history, sociology, psychology and comedy.
They also had their share of difference, she said.
‘I’m a vegan Buddhist who can’t code or remember acting lines to save my life, and she was a carnivorous atheist software engineer and actress,’ Satya wrote in a Facebook tribute on the second anniversary of Dorman’s death.
‘When we would eat together and I would order a meal with no meat, dairy or eggs and she would order a meal with all three she would always joke “how are we friends?!’
Satya cheered Dorman on as her comedy gig picked up, and had a feeling she was going to make a career of telling jokes.
‘I saw her start to get booked for more and more comedy performances and I felt like “Damn! She’s about to be a celebrity and I’m going to get to say – I knew her before she was famous,’ she said.
‘And then she killed herself.’
Dorman (pictured at right with a friend) met Chappelle at a comedy club in San Francisco
Satya implored her friends not to watch Chappelle’s latest special, which includes crude jokes about transgendered women.
He said women are entitled to feel anger toward transwomen, since Caitlyn Jenner won Glamour magazine’s 2015 Woman of the Year award.
‘I’d be mad as sh*t if I was a woman,’ Chappelle said.
He also joked about the anatomy of transwomen, joking that they lacked real female reproductive organs and that they did not have blood but ‘beet juice.’
Dorman met Chapman and a comedy club where he was performing, and later opened a show for him.
Unlike her mentor, she never used jokes to hurt others, Satya said.
‘She used humor to heal from pain, she told self-deprecating jokes, and used humor to educate people about trans issues,’ she wrote. ‘She never used humor to be hateful.’
Dormer (in red) is pictured with siblings after graduating high school around 1993
Dorman died less than two months after Sticks and Stones was released, and Satya said she wasn’t certain whether it played a role in her death.
‘I don’t think it was the main cause, but who know,’ she said. ‘Daphne had PTSD from a life of trauma and she had battled suicidal thoughts for years.
‘I think the final blow was a combination of her losing custody of her daughter, losing her job, and dealing with a lot of transphobic harassment on the streets of San Francisco. I lived with her, and yet I didn’t know how bad she was feeling.’
Suicidal thoughts and attempts are higher among transgender adults than in the general population, according to a UCLA study.
The Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy study found 51percent of transgender adults attempted suicide in 2015.
If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255.