Trans Netflix staff plan mass walkout after CEO refuses to back down on Dave Chappelle

Dave Chappelle

Trans employees at streaming giant Netflix are planning a company-wide walkout in response to the latest Dave Chappelle special.

The walkout, scheduled for 20 October, is being organised by Netflix’s internal trans employee resource group in response to a statement by co-CEO Ted Sarandos defending Chappelle’s The Closer, according to The Verge. The comedy special has been widely criticised for its anti-trans content.

“Trans Lives Matter. Trans Rights Matter. And as an organisation, 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 [people],” wrote a leader of the trans employee resource group in an internal organising message. “We can and must do better!”

Chappelle’s latest specialwhich premiered on 5 October on Netflix, sees the comedian make explicit jokes about trans women’s genitals and defend DaBaby and JK Rowling, before declaring himself “Team TERF“.

In response, trans writer and showrunner Jaclyn Moore, who worked on Dear White People, quit her job at Netflix on 7 October, saying: “I will not work with them as long as they continue to put out and profit from blatantly and dangerously transphobic content.”

The backlash against the comic peaked this week with more than 7,000 people signing a petition urging Netflix to drop Chappelle’s special, saying: “By providing a platform to Dave Chappelle and his transphobic ‘jokes’, Netflix is perpetuating violence and hostility towards transgender people.”

In response, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos said it would not be dropping The Closer, adding that Chappelle’s previous special, 2019’s Sticks & Stones, is the streamer’s “most watched, stickiest, and most award winning stand-up special to date”.

“Several of you have also asked where we draw the line on hate. 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,” Sarandos added.

This statement did not go down well with Netflix employees. Organisers at Netflix’s trans group wrote: “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.

“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.”

News of the walkout comes as Netflix reinstated trans employee Terra Fields, who was suspended after criticising the company for platforming transphobia and for attending a director level meeting without being invited.

Chappelle’s The Closer follows his 2019 special Sticks & Stones, which also included anti-trans material. Chappelle is reportedly making at least $20 million per special.