Dave Chappelle has never been one to shy away from controversy and polarizing topics, but his latest stand-up comedy special, The Closer, has gone farther than any of his previous specials. During The Closer, Chappelle refers to himself as a "TERF" and asserts that "gender is a fact."
The National Black Justice Coalition, GLAAD and a number of other organizations raised issues with Chappelle's comments. Also, Netflix employee Terra Field put together a thread of thoughts on the matter that was retweeted more than 3,000 times.
"Being trans is actually pretty funny, if you're someone who actually knows about the subject matter. How could volunteering for a second puberty *not* be funny? That isn't what he is doing though. Our existence is 'funny' to him - and when we object to his harm, we're 'offended,'" Field wrote.
"The problem is that people are responding to something we never said. We aren't complaining about 'being offended' and we don't have 'thin skin.' You try going to a pharmacy and having them call you 'sir' in front of everyone while you pick up your estradiol."
Disturbed by Chappelle's comments and Netflix's decision to air The Closer, Field and two other Netflix employees reportedly tried to attend a "director-level" meeting and discuss the matter further. According to The Verge, the trio was suspended shortly thereafter. The decision to suspend Field and several others has garnered push back from a variety of viewers.
"Netflix chose profits over the lives of trans people. Dave Chappelle uses his platform to spread transphobia refusing to pull The Closer, and suspending Terra Field, the trans woman who criticized the show, makes Netflix complicit with Chapelle’s bigotry," one user tweeted.
"For the record, this is actually what silencing someone looks like. Queer and trans Netflix employee, Terra Field, was suspended from her job for confronting management for platforming Chappelle's transphobic comedy special," another user tweeted.
Despite the pushback from several viewers, Netflix has refuted the idea that Field was suspended for her Twitter thread or her criticism of Chappelle's The Closer.
"It is absolutely untrue to say that we have suspended any employee for tweeting about this show,” a Netflix spokesperson told The Verge.
“Our employees are encouraged to disagree openly and we support their right to do so.”
Netflix has also indicated that it will not remove The Closer from its platform.
"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. I recognize, however, that distinguishing between commentary and harm is hard, especially with stand-up comedy which exists to push boundaries," Netflix Co-CEO Ted Sarandos wrote in an internal memo obtained by Variety.
"Some people find the art of stand-up to be mean spirited but our members enjoy it, and it's an important part of our content offering."
Chappelle has not responded to Sarandos' unofficial statement or Field's suspension.