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Trans Employees at Netflix Openly Critical for Airing of Dave Chappelle’s Special

Comic Dave Chappelle has received a lot of press about his recent comedy special airing on Netflix. Many individuals believe Chappelle’s performance reflected transphobia, with GLAAD asserting it “ridiculed trans people.” An executive producer on another Netflix show announced she would no longer work with Netflix because they “continue to put out and profit from blatantly and dangerously transphobic content.” According to The Verge, employees questioned whether Netflix included trans people in their consideration of the content and where the line is between commentary and transphobia. Trans workers are reportedly planning a walkout.

Following the public criticism of the show, Netflix’s co-chief executive put out a statement defending the choice to air it. He asserted that he did not believe Chappelle’s special was “designed to incite hate or violence” but said stand-up comedy pushes boundaries and can be difficult for some.

On October 6th, Terra Field, a transgender software engineer at Netflix, tweeted that Chappelle’s special “attacks the trans community, and the very validity of transness.” Field asserted Chappelle was trying to pit marginalized groups against each other and that his content harms members of the trans community, particularly Black trans women. According to the Human Rights Campaign, 38 transgender or gender non-conforming individuals have been killed just this year. Most of those individuals were Black and Latinx. A few days later, Netflix suspended Field and two other employees after they attended a virtual business meeting with top Netflix executives. Netflix had not invited the employees to the meeting. Netflix made it clear that it had not suspended Field because of the critical tweets, stating that employees are encouraged to “disagree openly.” On October 13th, Netflix reinstated Fields after finding that she did not have “ill intent” and believed she could join the meeting.