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Comedian Hannah Gadsby Is Helping Genderqueer Performers 'Find Their Feet' in New Netflix Special (Exclusive)

"I think every comic brings their own sort of cheek, and this feels like I'm introducing some really cool new voices to a broader audience," Gadsby tells PEOPLE of the seven genderqueer comedians featured in their special 'Gender Agenda'

<p>Matt Crossick/Netflix</p> Hannah Gadsby starring in

Matt Crossick/Netflix

Hannah Gadsby starring in 'Gender Agenda' on Netflix

Hannah Gadsby is bringing genderqueer voices to the mic.

The 46-year-old Australian comic — who uses they/them pronouns — is the host of a new comedy special Hannah Gadsby’s Gender Agenda, which premiered globally on Netflix on Tuesday.

Well known for their Emmy and Peabody Award-winning comedy performance Hannah Gadsby: Nanette — a social commentary/ narrative around classical art history, their identity as gender non-conforming and sexual trauma — Gadsby has performed two solo standup shows worldwide, and has now launched four Netflix specials, including Hannah Gadsby: Douglas, which addresses their autism diagnosis and how it affects their life.

In their latest special, Gender Agenda, Gadsby features a lineup of seven comedians who identify as genderqueer — a person whose gender identity does not correspond with binary gender distinctions.

“I really enjoyed everyone,” Gadsby tells PEOPLE about the special's line-up. “We worked [together] for a couple of nights before, and so I got to know everyone's sets. I just really feel like everyone has a little something special.”

Choosing seven genderqueer and trans comedians was a thorough process, says Gadsby.

“We just sort of put our ears to the ground and just found - we put our feelers out around the world,” Gadsby explains. “I'm autistic and so I don't like to lead when it comes to gathering people. So we built a team.”

Related: Comedian Hannah Gadbsy Reveals She Got Married in January: 'I Am Full of Very Positive Feelings'

Giving a platform to genderqueer comedians was also a cause Gadsby already felt passionate about when deciding to make this special.

“I just asked myself, 'What's something positive that I could do that I could leverage my platform?'" Gadsby recalls. "The little bit of power that I have to try and humanize the presence of genderqueer and trans comedians on the Netflix platform.”

They add, “It felt really important to help genderqueer performers find their feet. And me being a slightly divisive figure means that there'll be a bit of fuss made — and hopefully it will draw attention.”

In 2021, Gadsby made headlines for writing an open letter to Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos, who name-dropped the comedian while defending the release of Dave Chappelle’s controversial special The Closer, which created an outcry in the LGBTQ+ community.

Related: Netflix Co-CEO Says He 'Screwed Up' amid Backlash Over Dave Chappelle's Comedy Special

Coming back to Netflix with a special that promotes LGBTQ+ comedians and the surrounding community is “rewarding” for Gadsby.

“My work exists on that platform, so my open letter is pretty plain how I felt about being dragged into this as some sort of offset,” the comedian says about their 2021 message to Sarandos. “But if you're going to change the conversation, you have to be a part of it. You can't take yourself out of it. So I decided that this is my best guess of how to take my angry words and roll them into something constructive.”

<p>Matt Crossick/Netflix</p>

Matt Crossick/Netflix

One thing Gadsby appreciates about comedy is that it’s “one of the most accessible art forms.”

“It's open to people from disadvantaged backgrounds, lower socioeconomic backgrounds, which are voices we need,” they explain. “At my level, we are just skating around the globe - living in a sort of a success bubble. So it felt really important for me to have these people up here who are still sort of living in this so-called real world… It's really difficult for genderqueer performers to find safe spaces on stage.”

Gadsby says they are “excited for people to see the range of voices, ranges of experiences, and the sense of playfulness that people will witness," adding, “I think every comic brings their own sort of cheek, and this feels like I'm introducing some really cool new voices to a broader audience which is really nice.”

Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP/Shutterstock
Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Related: 'Nanette' 's Hannah Gadsby Reveals She Had Abortion After Being Raped: 'I Would Have Ended Up Dead'

Now that the special is out, Gadsby is looking towards what’s next.

“I'm working on a new live show as we speak and I start in Sydney this Thursday,” Gadsby says. “There are a few echoes to Nanette in this new show, which I think in a weird way, it makes it the sequel to Nanette six years later. I take a very long time to process things, so I've had two specials in between to just sort of gather my thoughts. I've gathered them and it turns out there are a lot of them and I've got a new show.”

And even though they aren’t sure just how, Gadsby is looking forward to continuing to make a difference through comedy.

“I can't be sure what does anything anymore, but I just think someone standing in front of a group of people is a powerful act,” they say. “I think people speaking for themselves, wrapping their own voices around their own words and their own experience and delivering that in a live space is a potent formula.”

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Hannah Gadsby’s Gender Agenda is now streaming on Netflix.

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