New Netflix show ‘Gender Agenda’ feels like homecoming for Mx. Dahlia Belle

By Crystal Ligori (OPB)
March 24, 2024 1 p.m.

The Portlander is one of a handful of genderqueer comedians featured in Hannah Gadsby’s fourth comedy special

Portlander Mx. Dahlia Belle was one of seven genderqueer comedians tapped for the new Netflix special "Hannah Gadsby's Gender Agenda."

Portlander Mx. Dahlia Belle was one of seven genderqueer comedians tapped for the new Netflix special "Hannah Gadsby's Gender Agenda."

Courtesy of Mx. Dahlia Belle

In 2021, hundreds of Netflix employees walked off the job in protest of Dave Chappelle’s comedy special. It had been widely criticized by LGBTQIA+ communities and allies for its jokes targeting the trans community. Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby wrote an open letter to Netflix’s co-CEO Ted Sarandos condemning the special after being referenced in his memo defending Chappelle.


This month, Gadsby’s fourth comedy special, “Gender Agenda,” hit the streaming platform with a group of genderqueer comedians sharing the stage, including Portland’s own Mx. Dahlia Belle.

Belle spoke with “All Things Considered” host Crystal Ligori about her nonsensical comedy style, working with other genderqueer comedians, and being tapped for the Netflix special.

The following transcript has been edited for clarity and length.

Crystal Ligori: I’d love to just start out by having you talk a little bit about how you got started in comedy and standup.

Mx. Dahlia Belle: Um… depression. [laughing] I’ve been performing pretty much my entire life, but I had briefly taken a break from the performance life to be a responsible adult. And yeah, that didn’t last. So I decided to try my hand at doing comedy open mics just to kill time and unfortunately, I got good at it.


Ligori: Well, you got very good at it! You’ve called yourself an “accidental activist,” but I feel like your standup seems pretty well crafted to really push the boundaries of what people think about when they think of gender. How would you describe your comedy?

Belle: My comedy is nonsense. I write absurdities. I like wrong answers. I think the accident is that my existence pushes boundaries. Being a Black, transgender woman of a certain age and very — how do I put it — socially different, we’ll say. I have the “neuro sparkles.” I’m used to being the outcast, so I don’t really set out to push anyone’s boundaries or idea of what is normal, but it’s just natural.

Ligori: What was the process like being contacted to do “Hannah Gadsby’s Gender Agenda”?

Belle: That process was amazing. So Hannah had tweeted, maybe a couple of years ago, “If I made a multi-comic, genderqueer special, who do you all want to see?” And a lot of people, I guess, namedropped me. So then I got an email from Hannah and Jenney to do the special. (Editor’s note: Jenney Shamash is Gadsby’s wife and work partner)

Ligori: Was it a thing where you double check, you’re like, “Is this spam? Am I being punked?”

Belle: Oh absolutely, absolutely. [laughing] I thought I was being scammed right up until I got on the plane.

Ligori: What did it feel like to be on a bill that was full of other queer people?

Belle: It was amazing. That part I would say is the full circle and like the homecoming for all of this. Doing comedy is the environment in which I really started to reconcile my gender, and comedy isn’t exactly the friendliest environment towards people like myself. So to be in the hotel with these just amazing people who all have a similar experience and vision, it was revelatory.

Ligori: What has the reaction from your community and viewers been like?

Belle: It’s been amazing. I have never received such an outpouring of love and support and appreciation. And it’s amazing experiencing people understanding where I’m coming from and what my experience and perspective is, and knowing that I am actually effectively communicating that and getting that across despite people’s different experiences and identities and life … is very rewarding.

Ligori: I feel like this pushes your career in just a really huge way. What is next for Mx. Dahlia Belle?

Belle: Next I want to tour a lot more. I mostly stay on the West Coast for now, but we’re hoping to change that this coming year. Maybe get on TV. I’ll go ahead and plug the show that I don’t have yet. [laughing] It will be coming to streaming services. It’s called “Dahlia Belle Plays Sports,” and it’s just going to be me trying to train with actual professional female athletes and hilarity will ensue, guaranteed.