Netflix’s trans staff and their allies staged a company-wide walkout on 20 October in protest of Dave Chappelle’s comedy special.
Two weeks after The Closer debuted on Netflix, members of the Netflix employee resource group Trans* and their allies took a “day of rest”.
This is in response to the transphobic remarks it features, as well as Netflix’s handling of the situation.
“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 have united in protest of Netflix giving Chappelle a platform to voice these views.
Netflix’s Chief Content Officer, Ted Sarandos previously defended the streaming giant’s decision to air the programme.
In a leaked staff memo, he insisted that “content on screen doesn’t directly translate to real-world harm”, emphasising “artistic freedom”.
However, in a later interview with Deadline, Sarandos said he “screwed up the internal communication”.
“I should’ve made sure to recognise that a group of our employees was hurting very badly from the decision made,” he added.
“I respect them deeply, and I love the contribution they have at Netflix. They were hurting, and I should’ve recognised that first.”
An array of high profile figures stood in solidarity with the protest, including Ashlee Marie Preston – the walkout’s organiser – who made a video to show support for those protesting.
“I know many of you are feeling the fatigue that I’m feeling of being involved in a movement where we learn tools to move forward but not everybody is on the same page, not everybody has the same tools of accountability,” she said.
Sharing the clip to Twitter, actor Elliot Page also backed those taking a stand against Netflix.
He wrote: “I stand with the trans, nonbinary, and BIPOC employees at Netflix fighting for more and better trans stories and a more inclusive workplace #NetflixWalkout.”
Schitt’s Creek star Dan Levy took to social media to voice his support of those walking out, stating that he stands with every employee at Netflix using their voice to ensure a safe and supportive work environment.”
See how other celebrities reacted below:
— Elliot Page (@TheElliotPage) October 20, 2021
— Wanda Sykes (@iamwandasykes) October 20, 2021
— dan levy (@danjlevy) October 20, 2021
#NetflixWalkout If you're not standing up for trans lives, you need to take a good look at who you ARE standing with. Good luck today everybody! ⚡️🎸⚡️
— Lilly Wachowski (@lilly_wachowski) October 20, 2021
— billy eichner (@billyeichner) October 20, 2021
TODAY’s #NetflixWalkout has been organized by the Trans Employee Resource Group at Netflix
TODAY’s rally is at the below address and is in support of the Netflix TERG walkout
— Sara Ramirez 🐜 (@SaraRamirez) October 20, 2021
The calls to action by trans Netflix staffers remind me of Danez Smith’s poem: TONIGHT, IN OAKLAND.
“I did not come here to sing a blues. Lately, I open my mouth and out comes marigolds. I came to make the sky a garden.”
May your demands bloom as change.https://t.co/4xjvMdtINn
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) October 20, 2021