Netflix suspends trans employee after viral tweets about Dave Chappelle special

After The Closer, Dave Chappelle’s latest comedy special was released on Netflix, several people that work with or work at the streaming service spoke out about the controversial remarks Chappelle made in the show.

One of them was Terra Field, who is a trans queer woman and a software engineer at Netflix. “I work at @netflix,” she wrote in the first tweet in a thread on October 6. “Yesterday we launched another Chappelle special where he attacks the trans community, and the very validity of transness – all while trying to pit us against other marginalized groups,” she said.

“You’re going to hear a lot about ‘offense’. We are not offended,” she proclaimed. Yet, Netflix was by her statements, as she has now been suspended by the mega-streaming company.

The Verge reports that the special has ignited “significant controversy inside Netflix,” and that it has culminated in Netflix attempting to do internal damage control. But then the company suspended Field, not explicitly for her viral thread, but “allegedly for trying to attend a meeting she wasn’t invited to, according to people familiar with the matter.”

According to the Verge, one other trans employee has decided to quit over Field’s suspension. Netflix declined to comment on the record for their story. INTO has previously requested comment about Chappelle’s special from Netflix, but has yet to receive a response as of this writing.

Field is far from the only person affiliated with Netflix that has denounced their decision to further platform Chappelle. Jaclyn Moore, a trans woman who is the showrunner for the final season of the Netflix series Dear White People, tweeted she will boycott the streaming service until they stop releasing “blatantly and dangerously transphobic content.”

Since Moore tweeted that, she has been subjected to transphobic abuse for days online, had several photos of her put side-by-side with Chappelle and innocuously posted by publications for no apparent reason, her words taken out of context, and receive the brunt of hatred from incited transphobes-turned-Chappelle fans.

While being interviewed by the Hollywood Reporter, Moore had derogatory slurs yelled at her from complete strangers on the street. “I’m literally getting yelled at now,” she said, “Where was I?”

She told the publication, “[Chappelle] says, ‘Please stop punching down.’ I don’t know in what world trans women control the universe because from where I’m sitting, Dave Chappelle has all the specials, all the money, all the things. I just want my friends to not get killed.”

She added, “I want to be clear that Dave Chappelle should be free to say whatever he wants and I should be free to say whatever I would like about him. Not to let Chappelle off the hook, but my bigger issue is with Netflix.”

Moore takes issue with Netflix because “I worked for Netflix for four years, and I told my coming-out story for their Pride [content] this year. In doing that, I said, ‘This is a place that cares about us and our community.’ Now, watching [The Closer], it’s really hard for me not to feel like I can no longer confidently say that.”

While the company hasn’t had the courage to defend the special publicly, co-CEO Ted Sarandos answered an internal Q&A by email on October 8, stating, “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.” (You can read all of Chappelle’s anti-trans remarks, including one where he literally labeled himself “Team TERF,” here.)

Sarandos bravely states in the internal message, “It never feels good when people are hurting, especially our colleagues… You should also be aware that some talent may join third parties in asking us to remove the show in the coming days, which we are not going to do.”

He then shielded him and the company from any responsibility for the transphobia promoted by Chappelle by pointing out they offer trans-affirming content such as the original show Sex Education and the award-winning documentary Disclosure, which they have licensed from the producers.

Another employee at the company dismissed Sarandos’ cop-out, telling the Verge, “You can’t do a carbon offset for bigotry.”

GLAAD, the National Black Justice Coalition, and other LGBTQ orgs have condemned Netflix, but the streaming service has remained mum on the controversy.

You can see Field’s full thread below.


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