Celebrities like Lilly Wachowski, Billy Eichner, Elliot Page and more are publicly offering their support to trans Netflix employees and their allies at the company who are staging a walkout Wednesday in protest of the streaming service's response to backlash over Dave Chappelle's comedy special "The Closer."
"#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!" "The Matrix" director Wachowski tweeted.
Eichner wrote: "Sending my love and full support to all trans employees and their allies participating in the #NetflixWalkout today."
"I stand with the trans, nonbinary, and BIPOC employees at Netflix fighting for more and better trans stories and a more inclusive workplace #NetflixWalkout," "Umbrella Academy" star Page tweeted.
Several more stars participated in a video that was posted to YouTube this morning, which you can view above, in support of the trans community at Netflix and their list of demands for changes to corporate culture at the streaming giant. The video was headed up by Ashlee Marie Preston, a trans activist who organized a rally in support of Netflix employees, and featured celebs Jonathan Van Ness, Angelica Ross, Jameela Jamil, Mason Alexander Park, Kate Bornstein, Our Lady J, Sara Ramirez, Peppermint and Colton Haynes lending their voices to the cause.
Netflix employees who were participating in the walkout Wednesday 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 L.A. office and was organized by trans activist Ashlee Marie Preston.
Netflix said on Wednesday morning before the walkouts that it would “respect the decision” of those employees who joined in the protest.
The list of demands from the Netflix employees participating in the walkout (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 includes 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 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 half-hour 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.)
“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.”
See messages offered on social media in support of Netflix employees' walkout below.