Jaclyn Moore is standing up to Hollywood’s nonsense


In a perfect world, “Queer as Folk” and “Dear White People” showrunner Jaclyn Moore would be able to make her art in peace. But because it’s 2022—a year in which 25 anti-trans bills have been rolled out so far, many of them attacking the rights of trans kids—she finds herself in the important position of having to educate everyone around her.

Last October, Netflix—the company Jaclyn Moore was employed with while working on four delightful seasons of “Dear White People”—released Dave Chappelle’s hour-long comedy special “The Closer,” a monologue that never strayed far from its central themes of transphobia and transmisogyny.

“After the Chappelle special, I can’t do this anymore. I won’t work for @netflix again as long as they keep promoting and profiting from dangerous transphobic content,” Moore wrote on Instagram the day Chappelle’s special dropped.


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A post shared by Jaclyn Moore (@jaclynpmoore)

It was the clapback heard ’round the world: or at least, around Hollywood. For every trans actor, screenwriter, and hopeful TV worker who dreads the inevitable day the industry will make the choice to hang us out to dry rather than protect us from transphobia, Moore’s bravery in stepping away from Netflix represented an important shift. Sure, we can get high-powered jobs at Netflix and work to create better representation. But if we don’t stand behind our words, if we don’t stand up for ourselves, what is all that representation really for?

“[Chappelle] doesn’t see what the messages of these jokes do to people,” Moore told Variety after leaving Netflix. “He talks about our feelings being hurt. My feelings are fine, but being thrown against a wall hurts or worrying at night if I can get home safe. That stuff is not theoretical. I’m really tired of my existence being a matter of debate, that this is something that we all just get to have an opinion about.”

In standing up to Netflix, Moore wasn’t just doing the right thing. She was risking a lot to say the thing that so many people in the industry simply won’t say: that trans people aren’t a talking point or a political fad. We’re real, we’re here, and we’ll always be here. And lucky for us, Moore’s latest gig as a showrunner on Peacock’s reboot of the seminal queer series “Queer as Folk” is about to blast respectability politics out of the water.

“I’m sick of feeling like representation alone is enough,” Moore wrote in a recent op-ed for Variety on the eye-roll-inducing predictability of Pride Month. “I’m sick of these conversations because I’m sick of art that seems to simply argue on behalf of our community’s collective humanity. That humanity should be beyond debate.”

It should: and thanks to Moore’s actions, we’re finally understanding the power of saying no. Of standing up to corporations that want to represent us without loving or even really seeing us. Of creating space for mess and mayhem within queer and trans storylines. Of flipping a defiant middle finger to the entire concept of respectability.


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“On Fox News,” Moore writes, “trans people and those who support minors having access to gender-affirming care are being recategorized as “groomers.” On Netflix, famous straight comedians make jokes about trans women being dangerous in bathrooms, as well as worthy targets for their audience’s anger. All this leads to a simple but scary truth. When you start to say a group of people is dangerous, you empower your followers to become dangerous to them.”

We’re seeing that danger pop up everywhere, from the endless copycat bills across the country to the Senate to the recent Florida decision to end Medicare support for trans adults seeking gender-affirming care. Things are bad, but Moore refuses to be pulled down into despair. She’s fighting for the world we want and need, something that trans activists have been doing invisibly across history for centuries. But unlike those activists who fought in the shadows, Moore is putting herself on the line. She can’t afford to stay silent, and neither can any of us. She’s remaining outspoken about the ways the media fail us, and celebrating important wins on the way. For someone who came out during quarantine—what we in the community affectionately term a “quarantrans”—she’s paying it forward and using her visibility in the industry to stand up for those who are bound to come after her. She’s not closing the door behind her: she’s making sure it stays open.


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A post shared by Jaclyn Moore (@jaclynpmoore)

Perhaps most importantly, she’s helping us move beyond the desire for representation. Moore is doing what every great trans activist has tried to do: helping to create a world where trans folks aren’t just represented, but seen, valued, and loved.

It’s an uphill battle, but Moore is giving it her all, and we couldn’t be more proud.

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