Daphne Dorman, a San Francisco-based transgender activist, comedian, and actress who Dave Chappelle referenced in a recent Netflix special, has died by suicide.
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.
In addition to her career in entertainment, Dorman also worked as a software engineer, the New York Daily News reports. Professional profiles indicate that she was a Philadelphia native and held positions locally at QVC, The Actors Center, and the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire.
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.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text TALK to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.