When trans activist and actress Ts Madison was scrolling on Instagram last week, she never considered that a small circulating video from a trans TikTok creator would end in a transphobic rant from one of the internet’s biggest Black comedians. But that’s exactly what happened. 

On Saturday, comedian Jess Hilarious posted a video to Instagram responding to trans TikTok creator Blessing Rose. Jess, whose real name is Jessica Moore, took umbrage with a video of Rose saying cis women “don’t own womanhood or periods.” As a stand-up comedian and internet star, Moore is best known for the no-holds-barred approach to comedy she perfected on the MTV series Wild’N Out. And it’s that same energy she brought to Instagram, with a fiery speech calling trans women delusional, mentally insane, and angry. (Moore did not respond to multiple requests for comment from Rolling Stone.)

“Who the fuck is gonna stand up for us?” Moore asked in the now-deleted video. “And us, I mean real women, biological women. When does the delusion stop? What is the difference between [a trans person] and someone who has been diagnosed to be mentally insane? The only difference is you don’t have a straitjacket on.”

If a white comedian with a following 5 million people deep posted a similar rant on Instagram, the backlash might have been enough to incur a late apology. But trans issues get far more dicey in the Black community, despite the fact that transgender people of color, especially trans women, are far more likely to be murdered or experience violent attacks. According to a national survey from Pew Research, two-thirds of Black adults (68 percent) believe gender is determined by the sex you’re assigned at birth — something that can’t be changed. (For the general public, that statistic is slightly lower, around 60 percent.) According to Pew, data also shows there’s no majority consensus among Black adults on how the trans community is treated in society. It’s a weighty discussion, one where trans people also seem to find themselves the butt of the joke.

People often use trans as an insult or dig, especially at Black women with sharp jaws or broad shoulders — a specific type of misogynoir intended to humiliate. it’s even an insult Black comedians have specifically directed at Moore. But before the video was deleted, Moore’s comments were overwhelmed with supporters who not only called the rant correct, but further misgendered, insulted, and maligned trans women. So Ts Madison spoke up. 

“There are sooooo many ‘real’ women that get mistaken for being ‘transgender’ women and that’s where a lot of the anger comes from,” Madison wrote. “I do hope they take a good look at how transphobia affects ALL women.” But Moore doubled down. Following Madison’s tweet, Moore posted an Instagram story with Madison’s photo, saying “You da last one that needs to be fucking with me… Keep that shit over there.” 

In her first public interview since Madison called out Moore for her Instagram tirade, Madison tells Rolling Stone that she spoke up, and will continue speaking up, because she wants the Black community to fight for trans people — just as hard as trans people fight for them. 

“I’m not trying to replace any female,” Madison says. “I’m not trying to take away any woman’s right to be a woman. I’m frustrated. I’m hurt. All I’m trying to do is exist.” 

While Madison is best known as an actress, viral internet star, and judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race, she’s also been an active voice in the Black and trans communities. Most recently, her viral speech about Blackness during the George Floyd riots was sampled in Beyonce’s Renaissance song “Cozy.” Frustrated by Moore’s comments, Madison tells Rolling Stone she spoke out because she was tired of hearing so many blanket statements about trans people — especially from Moore, who has also experienced transphobia in the form of targeted insults. (It didn’t even take two days for someone to prove Madison’s point. DJ Akademiks, the popular rap DJ and interviewer who recently signed an exclusive deal with right-wing platform Rumble, posted about the public spat on Monday, joking that it didn’t matter because he had always assumed Moore was trans anyway.) 

To make matters worse, Moore’s video wasn’t even focused on the full clip of what Blessing Rose said. The video was taken from Rose’s social media and clipped down by popular conservative and blog accounts, including Libs of TikTok. What commenters, including Moore, didn’t see, was where Rose clarified the fact that trans men and intersex people can also have menstrual cycles — and used those examples as proof that there’s no one size fits all way to be a woman. And while Madison says she understands that the video was initially confusing, this isn’t the first time Moore has expressed transphobic views and jokes. In multiple podcast episodes, Moore has called trans women “men.”

“When you start misgendering trans people, you know the inflection of what you’re trying to do. ‘You’re a man, you’re not real, you’re not me.’ And so you already came in hostile,” Madison tells Rolling Stone. “I came from a Black woman. I was raised by Black women. I know the plight and the struggle of Black women. My fan base is largely Black women. They fight tooth and nail for me and I do the same for them. When Roe v. Wade was overturned, I was on my platform. I talked about how women’s bodies should not be policed by the government. I even cussed Caitlyn Jenner’s ass out. For me to get called mentally unstable, or saying who stands up for Black women? It upsets me. “


Since the drama has gone from subtweets to being discussed on major blogs, Madison says that she’s most frustrated about the debate because she feels like an opportunity for real dialogue and learning was turned into an all-out fight. But even now, she’s hopeful that her continued posts on the topic will hopefully help a larger percentage of the Black community accept their trans members. 

“I would hope that the Black community would actually sit down and have a willing openness to learn,” Madison says. “I really wish that we would look at it through the lens of what we had to go through with white supremacy and racism and say, ‘Oh my God, I am doing some of the same things to a marginalized group of people.’ Transphobia affects all women, cis women and trans women. And we have to put an end to it.”