'SNL' Star Michael Che Receives Backlash for Caitlyn Jenner Joke During 'Weekend Update'

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Michael Che
NBC

Saturday Night Live's Michael Che is taking heat over a joke he made while anchoring "Weekend Update," during the most recent episode of the sketch series, that some critics are calling "transphobic."

The remark in question came as Che was poking fun at Kanye West, and the recent release of West's new album, Jesus Is King, before comparing West to Caitlyn Jenner.

"I mean, he used to be one of the coolest black dudes on earth now he’s showing up to events in sweatpants and orthopedic sneakers, listening to Kenny G and trying to get black people to like Trump," Che said, "How long before this guy changes his name to Cathy."

To emphasis his satirical point that West appears to be turning into an old white woman, he showed a side-by-side of West and a stock photo of an older white lady.

"Now, you might think that I’m crazy, but about five years ago, there was a fella named Bruce Jenner, and he moved to Calabasas…" Che said, as he trailed off to the sound of uncomfortable laughter from the audience.

The use of Jenner's former name, and referring to Jenner as a "fella" -- notably, while speaking about the celebrity before her transition, which is commonly referred to as "deadnaming" -- stirred up backlash from numerous viewers who felt the comments were insulting, marginalizing and transphobic.

"Caitlyn Jenner was deadnamed and misgendered as a punchline. There wasn’t even a joke," one Twitter user wrote. "The punchline was just dead naming her and then the bit ended. It was super uncomfortable for the audience."

"@nbcsnl Michael Che, I’m disappointed in your comparison of Kanye West, a cis man, to Caitlyn Jenner, a trans woman. Your comparison implies that trans women are just men who change their names. You also misgendered and deadnamed her," another user wrote. "Both of these things are extremely harmful, widespread practices that contribute to the oppression of trans women, and the trans community at large. I want you to apologize for this behavior. You are better than this."

ET has reached out to NBC and Che's rep for comment regarding the joke.

SNL airs live coast-to-coast Saturdays at 11:30 p.m. ET, 8:30 p.m. PT on NBC.

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