Photo: Netflix

Trans employees and their allies are planning a company-wide walkout at Netflix in protest of its handling of Dave Chappelle’s comedy.

On 20 October, two weeks after Chappelle’s new comedy special debuted on Netflix, members of the Netflix employee resource group Trans* and their allies will take a “day of rest”.

This is in response to The Closer, which faced immediate backlash due to the transphobic remarks it features.

“They cancelled J.K. Rowling — my God. [Effectively] she said gender was a fact, the trans community got mad as shit, they started calling her a TERF,” Chappelle says during the episode.

The term “TERF” references “trans-exclusionary radical feminists” whose views are widely seen as transphobic.

After making jokes about the bodies of trans women, he goes on to say: “Gender is a fact. Every human being in this room, every human being on earth, had to pass through the legs of a woman to be on earth. That is a fact.”

Despite this, Chappelle then claims that he is “not saying that to say trans women aren’t women” and that “people who watch his specials would know that I never had a problem with transgender people”.

Now, trans employees and allies will be staging a walkout in protest of Netflix giving Chappelle a platform to voice these views.

“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 Slack message sent on 11 October to over 800 Netflix employees, seen by the Los Angeles Times, says.

“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,” the message continues.

“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.”

According to a staff member speaking to the Los Angeles Times, the walkout is being held to pressure the streaming platform into acknowledging the harm Chappelle’s comedy caused.

There are also demands for Netflix to release more LGBTQ+ content, but they are not demanding the removal of the special – especially in the wake of the company’s co-Chief Executive, Ted Sarandos, saying it will be remaining on the platform.

Terra Field, a Netflix employee, went viral the day after The Closer premiered when she shared a thread about why Chappelle’s words are so harmful to the community.

“I work at @netflix,” Field’s first tweet reads. “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. You’re going to hear a lot of talk about ‘offense’.”

In another of the thread’s tweets, she adds: “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.”