Daphne Dorman, a San Francisco-based transgender activist, comedian, and actress who Dave Chappelle referenced in a recent Netflix special, has died by suicide.
"To those of you who are mad at me: please forgive me,” Dorman wrote on Friday, Oct. 11. “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.”
Becky Kugler, who identified herself as Dorman’s sister, confirmed Dorman’s death via Facebook shortly after the initial message went online. “I so wish we could have helped you through your darkness,” Kugler wrote. “We’ll always love you, fly high sweet angel.”
San Francisco’s Office of Transgender Initiatives also confirmed Dorman’s death online Friday.
“We are saddened to learn about the loss of Daphne Dorman today who was a beloved community member,” the office tweeted, adding that transgender individuals dealing with trauma should reach out to Trans Lifeline, a support hotline, or Trans:Thrive, a San Francisco-based organization that works to help transgender people.
Dorman was referenced in Chappelle’s special, Sticks and Stones, which Netflix released in late August. Some critics called the special offensive and transphobic due to Chappelle’s material targeting LGBT people.
However, in an addendum to the special, Chappelle told a story about striking up a friendship with a transgender woman who he claimed was “laughing the hardest” at his jokes about transgender people. That woman was Dorman.
“Yep, I’m the Daphne that Dave Chappelle is talking about in Sticks and Stones,” Dorman wrote in her Twitter bio. She later defended Chappelle online, writing that the comic “doesn’t consider himself better than me in any way,” and that “he’s a master of his craft.”
On Facebook, Dorman indicated that she opened for Chappelle at a performance in San Francisco late last month.
Transgender people have high rates of suicide. A 2014 study by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Williams Institute, found 41 percent of transgender people have attempted suicide.