Hundreds of Netflix employees, activists, and allies took to the streets of Hollywood on Wednesday in protest of the streaming company after defending ‘transphobic’ comments made in Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special The Closer.
After Chappelle’s special premiered on October 8, critics and employees called out Netflix and Chappelle for his transphobic remarks. Chappelle called himself “team TERF,” or aligned with trans-exclusionary radical feminists who do not consider transgender women to be women.
On October 13 a Bloomberg report revealed that some Netflix employees spoke out about the special internally and that the company's leadership was in support for the comedian.
Netflix later fired an employee, identified as B. Pagels-Minor, for “sharing confidential information externally from their Netflix email on several occasions,” per a statement to the New York Times. Pagels-Minor has denied the allegation through their lawyer.
Netflix’s CEO, Ted Sarandos, has also defended the streamer’s partnership with Chappelle on multiple occasions through internal memos and statements.
Sarandos says the company tries to support “creative freedom.” But on October 19, the CEO told multiple outlets he “screwed up” handling The Closer internally and should have “led with humanity.”
The walkout was organized by Netflix’s Trans* Employee Resource Group in order to show support and seek justice for their transgender employees and community.
“I encourage all [members of] Trans* and allies not to work for Netflix that day,” an employee wrote in a Netflix Slack channel for trans employees and allies on October 11, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“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.”
In preparation for the walkout, organizers put together a PSA supporting their message. Featured in the video are big names like ‘Drag Race’s’ Peppermint, Jameela Jamil, Sara Ramierez, and Johnathan Van Ness.
Rally organizers created multiple demands they want from Netflix. First reported by The Verge, the list includes hiring trans and nonbinary people to executive positions, creating a fund to support trans and nonbinary talent, and adding disclaimers "that specifically flag transphobic language, misogyny, homophobia, hate speech, etc. as required."
While the demands don’t ask for any content to be removed from the platform it does ask for the promotion of trans-affirming content alongside any content deemed as anti-trans.
Event organizer Ashlee Marie Preston claims that she and other organizers invited Chappelle to speak with them but the invitation was denied.
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