Transgender employees at Netflix are staging a company-wide walkout next week to protest the streamer's continued support of Dave Chappelle's new comedy special, The Closer. Chappelle has come under fire for his latest round of jokes about the trans community and the wider LGBTQ+ community, and some have even called for his special to be removed. Netflix's co-CEO Ted Serandos defended Chappelle, marking the final straw for some employees.
Chappelle's special was released on Tuesday, Oct. 5 and it has hardly left the headlines since. His jokes about trans people drew backlash — especially from trans employees at Netflix and trans performers who have worked with Netflix before. The company has declined requests to remove the special from its catalog, and in his personal statements, Serandos defended Chappelle on the basis of artistic expression. At the same time, Netflix suspended software engineer Terra Field after she tweeted criticisms of the special and attended an executive meeting about the backlash.
Netflix has reinstated me after finding that there was no ill-intent in my attending the QBR meeting. I've included the statement I requested below.— Terra Field (@RainofTerra) October 13, 2021
I'm going to take a few days off to decompress and try to figure out where I'm at. At the very least, I feel vindicated. pic.twitter.com/lYxemYgRkJ
Still, reinstating Field has not quelled the outrage among trans employees at Netflix. On Wednesday, The Verge published a statement from an organizer of the walkout, which reads: "Trans Lives Matter. Trans Rights Matter. And as an organization, Netflix has continually failed to show deep care in our mission to Entertain the World by repeatedly releasing content that harms the Trans community and continually failing to create content that represents and uplifts Trans content. We can and must do better!"
"As we've discussed through Slack, email, text, and everything in between our leadership has shown us they do not uphold the values to which we are held," the statement continues. "Between the numerous emails and non-answers that have been given, we have been told explicitly that we somehow cannot understand the nuance of certain content."
Chappelle has face backlash for all six of his Netflix stand-up specials, particularly for his jokes about the trans community. Once again in The Closer, he compared the civil rights struggles of trans people with those of Black Americans. However, he also declared himself a part of "Team TERF," and conflated biological sex with gender in a way that has often been used to harass transgender people.
In response, an undisclosed number of trans employees will be symbolically walking out of work on Wednesday, Oct. 20. It is not clear how this will impact Netflix operations, or if there is any call for subscribers to join in the labor action.