Netflix’s trans employee resource group has sent the company a list of demands, among them, that the company acknowledges that transphobic content causes harm. Last week, in a company-wide memo responding to critics of Dave Chappelle, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos specifically rejected that this is a fact. “While some employees disagree, we have a strong belief that content on screen doesn’t directly translate to real-world harm,” he wrote. Counterpoint: the internet.
Employees are planning a virtual walkout on Wednesday, October 20th.
In a letter shared with The Verge, the group asks that Netflix take responsibility for the harm, as well as add disclaimers specifically warning about “transphobic language, misogyny, homophobia, hate speech, etc.” The employees also demand that promo and references to transphobic talent and programs be removed from the office.
The letter goes further in imploring Netflix to rethink its product. It asks that Netflix set aside a fund to platform more non-binary and trans creators, including an investment in trans and non-binary content that is “comparable to our total investment in transphobic content.” Yesterday, Bloomberg reported that Netflix paid $24.1 million for Chappelle’s latest special “The Closer.”
In the memo, Sarandos lumped Chappelle in with a group of totally unrelated acts that represent his vision of “marginalized communities,” suggesting that comedian Hannah Gadsby, who is gay, automatically cleanses Netflix of any offense. “We are working hard to ensure marginalized communities aren’t defined by a single story,” he wrote. “So we have Sex Education, Orange is the New Black, Control Z, Hannah Gadsby, and Dave Chappelle all on Netflix.”
Netflix hasn’t shown a receptive mood; last week, it reportedly terminated a Black and pregnant protestor who organized the walkout. According to The Verge, Netflix had fired them on the belief that they’d leaked details about the number of people who viewed Chappelle’s special and how much Netflix paid for it. Netflix also suspended and later reinstated three employees who walked into an executive meeting uninvited, as well as an employee who said that the special “attacks the trans community” on Twitter.
As of last week, 1,000 employees reportedly planned to join the walkout.