Latest Breaking News & Top Headlines

Netflix’s transgender workers are set to stage a walk out next week over Dave Chapelle’s new show

122

Transgender employees at Netflix are planning a walkout on Oct. 20 in response to the company’s defense of Dave Chappelle’s standup special The Closer and the brief firing of a transgender employee, who attended an executive meeting without permission, before she was reinstated.

Employees say they raised concerns to company executives about jokes Chappelle made in the special that they said were damaging to the LGBTQ+ community, but Ted Sarandos, the company’s co-CEO, said that the show didn’t cross any lines and urged those who opposed it to be comfortable ‘living with titles you strongly believe have no place on Netflix.’

Members of the company’s Trans Employee Resource Group are staging their protest to demand the company recognize the impact of potentially transphobic content and offer a platform for transgender comedians and others from marginalized groups.

‘I encourage all [members of] Trans* and allies not to work for Netflix that day. … As we’ve discussed through Slack, email, texts and everything in between, our leadership has shown us that they do not uphold the values for which we are held,’ a Netflix employee posted Monday in a public, company Slack channel comprising more than 800 staffers representing ‘gender minorities of all sorts and their allies,’ in a message reviewed by the Los Angeles Times. 

Transgender employees at Netflix are planning a walkout on Oct. 20 in response to the company’s defense of Comedian Dave Chappelle’s The Closer

It comes after the brief firing of Terra Field, a transgender employee who was suspended, and then reinstated, after Netflix officials said she attended a meeting uninvited only to backtrack and say she meant no ‘ill intent’ by attending

Field shared a screen shot of a company message confirming her reinstatement

Field shared a screen shot of a company message confirming her reinstatement

The ‘day of rest’ comes after transgender employee Terra Field publicly criticized the special in a viral Twitter thread and was later fired with two other employees for joining a quarterly business review that executives said they weren’t welcome to attend. 

Netflix investigated the matter after public outcry and have since reinstated Field and her colleagues, finding that they did not attend the meeting with ‘ill intent.’ The company is also planning to issue guidance about meeting attendance policy to its staff.

Field shared a screen shot of a company message confirming her reinstatement, which reads, ‘Our investigation did not find that you joined the QBR meeting with any ill intent and that you genuinely didn’t think there was anything wrong with seeking access to this meeting. Additionally, when a Director shared the link, it further supported that this was a meeting you could attend.’

Alongside the screen shot, Field tweeted, ‘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. 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.’

However, some employees said the incident exemplifies how the company overlooks their concerns.

‘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,’ reads an internal memo to Trans ERG members on Slack, which was obtained by The Verge.

Ted Sarandos, the company’s co-CEO, said that the show didn’t cross any lines and urged those who opposed it to be comfortable ‘living with titles you strongly believe have no place on Netflix'

Ted Sarandos, the company’s co-CEO, said that the show didn’t cross any lines and urged those who opposed it to be comfortable ‘living with titles you strongly believe have no place on Netflix’

Members of the company's Trans ERG said that 'our leadership has shown us they do not uphold the values to which we are held.' Above is the company's co-CEO Reed Hastings

Members of the company’s Trans ERG said that ‘our leadership has shown us they do not uphold the values to which we are held.’ Above is the company’s co-CEO Reed Hastings

During his sixth Netflix special, Chappelle said women view transwomen the way black people view white women wearing blackface.

He said women are entitled to feel anger toward transwomen, since Caitlyn Jenner won Glamour magazine’s 2015 Woman of the Year award.

‘I’d be mad as sh*t if I was a woman,’ Chappelle said.

He also joked about the anatomy of transwomen, joking that they lacked real female reproductive organs and that they did not have blood but ‘beet juice.’

Chappelle also enthusiastically defended JK Rowling – who said transgender women were not actually women and were a threat to her identity. The Harry Potter author was labeled a TERF, a trans-exclusionary radical feminist, and Chappelle said he embraced the label.

‘I’m Team TERF. I agree. I agree, man. Gender is a fact’, Chappelle said.

Sarandos wrote a memo to employees recognizing the opposition to the special, saying, “Our hope is that you can be hugely inspired by entertaining the world, while also living with titles you strongly believe have no place on Netflix. This will not be the last title that causes some of you to wonder if you can still love Netflix. I sincerely hope that you can.”

While it is not clear how many of Netflix’s current 12,135 employees identify as transgender or are members of the Trans ERG, the company’s latest inclusion report breaks down the staff's gender identity in the graphs above

While it is not clear how many of Netflix’s current 12,135 employees identify as transgender or are members of the Trans ERG, the company’s latest inclusion report breaks down the staff’s gender identity in the graphs above

Chappelle's sixth Netflix special has received a slew of criticism from members of the LGBTQ community with some demanding the platform pull the show

Chappelle’s sixth Netflix special has received a slew of criticism from members of the LGBTQ community with some demanding the platform pull the show

This comes after he sent a first memo addressing pressure he received from employees who wanted the show taken off the platform. Sarandos said bosses did not believe that Chappelle’s work amounted to ‘hate,’ and that the company would not be removing the show despite pressure from artists.

‘Some talent may join third parties in asking us to remove the show in the coming days, which we are not going to do,’ Sarandos wrote, adding Chappelle is one of the most popular performers working today.

‘We don’t allow titles (on) Netflix that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don’t believe The Closer crosses that line.

‘Some people find the art of stand-up to be mean-spirited but our members enjoy it, and it’s an important part of our content offering.

‘I recognize, however, that distinguishing between commentary and harm is hard, especially with stand-up comedy which exists to push boundaries,’ Sarandos wrote.

Following Sarandos’s reactions, Trans ERG members wrote internally, ‘I encourage all [members of] Trans* and allies not to work for Netflix that day … 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 message continued, ‘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. I don’t know about you, but asking for us to show the whole story and not just the pieces that harm trans and [LGBTQ+] people is not an unreasonable ask.

So, I encourage us all to state clearly that we, as Netflix employees are stunning not simply when we are doing the work that our roles demand of us but also when we challenge the very principles of our company.’

While it is not clear how many of Netflix’s current 12,135 employees identify as transgender or are members of the Trans ERG, the company’s latest inclusion report states that 47.9 percent of staff are women, 43.8 percent are men, seven percent listed themselves as ‘not disclosed,’ and 1.3 percent are listed as ‘additional gender identities.’

In addition to the transgender employees and allies staging a walkout, one transgender employee announced publicly that she was leaving the show entirely because of its response to Chappelle’s special. 

Last week, Jaclyn Moore, pictured, a trans showrunner on another Netflix show said she will no longer work for the streaming service following Dave Chappelle's 'transphobic' remarks

Last week, Jaclyn Moore, pictured, a trans showrunner on another Netflix show said she will no longer work for the streaming service following Dave Chappelle’s ‘transphobic’ remarks

Dear White People showrunner Jaclyn Moore said she’ll boycott Netflix for airing the special

Dear White People showrunner Jaclyn Moore said she’ll boycott Netflix for airing the special

Dear White People showrunner Jaclyn Moore, who is transgender, said she’ll boycott Netflix for continuing to ‘put out and profit from blatantly and dangerously transphobic content.’

‘I love so many of the people I’ve worked with at Netflix,’ Moore tweeted.

‘Brilliant people and executives who have been collaborative and fought for important art… But I’ve been thrown against walls because, I’m not a “real” woman. I’ve had beer bottles thrown at me. So, @Netflix, I’m done.’ 

Field, a senior software engineer at Netflix, tweeted her response to the special around the same time as Moore.   

‘I work at @netflix,’ she wrote. ‘Yesterday we launched another Chappelle special where he attacks the trans community, and the very validity of transness – all while trying to pit us against other marginalized groups.

‘What we object to is the harm that content like this does to the trans community (especially trans people of color) and VERY specifically black trans women.

‘Promoting TERF ideology (which is what we did by giving it a platform yesterday) directly harms trans people, it is not some neutral act. This is not an argument with two sides. It is an argument with trans people who want to be alive and people who don’t want us to be,’ Field tweeted.

‘This all gets brushed off as offense though – because if we’re just ‘too sensitive’ then it is easy to ignore us. I’m surprised I haven’t had anyone call me (ironically) ‘hysterical’ yet today,’ she continued.

Over the course of more than 40 tweets Field explained the violence felt by transgender the gender non-conforming community

Over the course of more than 40 tweets Field explained the violence felt by transgender the gender non-conforming community

Field then went on to include a list of 38 trans and nonbinary men and women of color who she said had been killed, adding in each case that the victim 'is not offended.'

Field then went on to include a list of 38 trans and nonbinary men and women of color who she said had been killed, adding in each case that the victim ‘is not offended.’

Field then went on to include a list of 38 trans and nonbinary men and women of color who she said had been killed, adding in each case that the victim ‘is not offended.’ 

According to a person familiar with the matter, the three employees, including Field, joined a quarterly meeting for company directors and vice presidents without gaining authorization.

The person, who wasn’t authorized to discuss the situation publicly, said the workers were suspended as a result of an investigation and not for speaking out, but for attending the virtual meeting uninvited.

‘It is absolutely untrue to say that we have suspended any employees for tweeting about this show. Our employees are encouraged to disagree openly and we support their right to do so,’ Netflix said in a statement on Monday.

Award-winning author and poet Saeed Jones, who is black and gay, became one of the latest critics to slam the Netflix special and said he used to value Chappelle’s comedy, but The Closer made him feel as though ‘I’d just been stabbed by someone I once admired and now he was demanding that I stop bleeding,’ he wrote in an opinion piece for GQ.

At one point in the Netflix special – Chappelle’s sixth on the platform – he joked that the gay community is leagues ahead of the black community in terms of civil rights. 

‘We blacks, we look at the gay community and we go “Goddamn it! Look how well that movement is going,’ Chappelle quipped.

Jones, who won the Kirkus Prize for his 2019 memoir How We Fight For Our Lives, was not laughing.

‘Never mind that, in addition to being both black and gay, I also happen to live in the state of Ohio, as does Chappelle himself, where our governor just signed a provision that will allow doctors and other medical professionals to deny healthcare to LGBTQ patients,’ he wrote. 

Poet Saeed Jones slammed Dave Chappelle for his jokes about trans people in his latest Netflix special The Closer

Other critics of Chappelle’s special included David J. Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, who asked Netflix to apologize to the transgender community and pull The Closer from its streaming service.

‘We do not condone violence against any members of our community and our feelings and existence as trans, queer, and non-binary/non-conforming people matter too,’ Johns said in a statement.

‘What’s being missed at this moment is the extreme rate at which Black trans women are murdered, annually. All of this to say, we should think and engage more critically so we can all get free.’

His jokes also didn’t sit well with America’s leading LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD, which issued a scathing statement about his standup routine.

‘Dave Chappelle’s brand has become synonymous with ridiculing trans people and other marginalized communities,’ GLAAD tweeted.

‘Negative reviews and viewers loudly condemning his latest special is a message to the industry that audiences don’t support platforming anti-LGBTQ diatribes.’ 

National Black Justice Coalition executive director David Johns wants the show cancelled

National Black Justice Coalition executive director David Johns wants the show cancelled 

His transgender jokes angered LGBQT advocates such as GLAAD, which blasted him on Twitter

His transgender jokes angered LGBQT advocates such as GLAAD, which blasted him on Twitter

NPR TV critic Eric Deggan said Chappelle also ventured into anti-Semitism during his routine by kiddingly pitching a movie called ‘Space Jews,’ about a diaspora of former Earthlings who return to the planet to take it over.

‘I don’t really care what point he’s trying to make,’ Deggan wrote. ‘A joke that sounds like anti-Semitism gets a hard pass from me.’ 

But not everyone’s a critic.

The sisters of Daphne Dorman – a transgender friend of Chappelle’s who died by suicide in 2019 – said they were appalled at suggestions the comedian was transphobic.

‘Daphne was in awe of Dave’s graciousness,’ her sister Becky told The Daily Beast. ‘She did not find his jokes rude, crude, off-coloring, off-putting, anything.

‘Daphne understood humor and comedy – she was not offended. Why would her family be offended?’

Her younger sister Brandy told The Daily Beast that Chappelle is an ally to the LGBTQ community.

She said: ‘His entire set was begging to end this very situation.’ Chappelle’s family said she also appreciated that humor was about the ability to offend everyone equally – and to be able to laugh at being mocked. 

The family of transgender woman Daphne Dorman, who died by suicide, defended Chappelle

.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.