As Netflix’s trans employees and their allies begin their walkout Wednesday in protest of Dave Chappelle’s “The Closer” comedy special, here is what the streaming giant’s trans employees are demanding.
For starters, the list of demands (which was posted by trans employee resource group in an internal message) does not include taking down Chappelle’s special, which has been harshly criticized for the comedian’s transphobic jokes.
“We want the Company to adopt measures in the areas of Content Investment, Employee Relations and Safety, and Harm Reduction, all of which are necessary to avoid future instances of platforming transphobia and hate speech, and to account for the harm we have caused and will continue to cause until the below measures are put in place,” the employees wrote (which was first reported by The Verge).
More specifically, the list asks for Netflix to create a fund to develop trans and nonbinary talent; revise the company policies when it comes to “releasing potentially harmful content”; hire trans and nonbinary content executives and recruit more of them for leadership roles; allow employees to remove themselves from promotional content; take down “references and imagery” of transphobic titles within the company offices; acknowledge the harm and Netflix’s responsibility of transphobic content; and add a disclaimer ahead of any potentially harmful content.
“We are employees, but we are members, too. We believe that this Company can and must do better in our quest to entertain the world, and that the way forward must include more diverse voices in order to avoid causing more harm,” the group said.
Netflix employees who were participating in the walkout began at noon local time (i.e., the New York based employees have already begun, while the California-based workers will start theirs at noon PT).
At the same time, a rally, called “‘Stand Up’ in Solidarity,” is taking place Wednesday morning at 10:30 a.m. PT in Hollywood near Netflix’s LA office and was organized by trans activist Ashlee Marie Preston.
Netflix said on Wednesday morning before the walk outs that it would “respect the decision” of those employees who joined in the protest.
“We value our trans colleagues and allies, and understand the deep hurt that’s been caused,” a Netflix spokesperson said on Wednesday in a statement shared with TheWrap. “We respect the decision of any employee who chooses to walk out, and recognize we have much more work to do both within Netflix and in our content.”
Netflix and Chappelle came under fire from prominent social justice organizations earlier this month for the comedian’s jokes targeting trans and other LGBTQ+ people in his new special. “Gender is a fact,” he says at one point in the hour-plus set. “Every human being in this room, every human being on Earth, had to pass through the legs of a woman to be on Earth.” Chappelle then joked about the genitalia of trans women, which he described as “not what it is.”
Sarandos said on Oct. 11 in a memo to employees that he would not take down Chappelle’s special, writing, “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.” He went on to say that artistic freedom” is different for stand-up comedy than it is for other forms of expression.
(After doubling down on his stance in a followup note to staff, Sarandos admitted on Tuesday he didn’t handle the initial communication about his decision with the “humanity” the situation called for.)