Netflix has suspended three employees, including Terra Field, who identifies as queer and trans, after they crashed a leadership meeting and spoke out about transphobic jokes said during Dave Chappelle’s latest special, The Closer.
The quarterly business review meeting that the three employees attended uninvited, according to Variety, brought together the top 500 employees in the company. Terra Field and the other two unnamed employees were later suspended for crashing the event, after expressing their distaste for Chappelle’s offensive jokes, which have become a major staple on Netflix’s platform since his first in 2017.
The Closer marks his sixth special for Netflix and has sparked yet another clash with the LGBTQ community. For years, the group has demanded Netflix stop promoting his “humor.” In The Closer, Chappelle refers to himself as “team TERF,” referencing the term for “trans-exclusionary radical feminist,” misgenders a person multiple times in one of his stories, and declares his belief that “gender is a fact.”
In a lengthly message on Twitter, Terra Field, one of the suspended employees and a senior software engineer, criticized the special, writing that Netflix had, once again, “launched another Chappelle special where he attacks the trans community, and the very validity of transness.”
“Being trans is actually pretty funny, if you’re someone who actually knows about the subject matter,” Field wrote. “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.'”
“The problem is that people are responding to something we never said,” she explained. “We aren’t complaining about ‘being offended’ and we don’t have ‘thin skin’… What we object to is the harm that content like this does to the trans community.”
Over the course of dozens more tweets in the thread, Field went on to name 38 members of the trans community who have been murdered as part of a hate crime.
According to Variety, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos held a meeting to discuss the event and how the company should treat employees who object to Chappelle’s remarks.
Releasing a memo on Monday to the entire company, he said that Dave Chappelle “is one of the most popular stand-up comedians today, and we have a long standing deal with him.”
“His last special ‘Sticks & Stones,’ also controversial, is our most watched, stickiest and most award-winning stand-up special to date,” he wrote in the memo. “As with our other talent, we work hard to support their creative freedom — even though this means there will always be content on Netflix some people believe is harmful.”
Another statement put out by the company clarified that Terra Field and the two other employees were suspended for crashing the high-profile meeting, and not for their remarks on Twitter.
“Our employees are encouraged to disagree openly and we support their right to do so,” a Netflix spokesperson told Variety.
Along with Field, Dear White People writer and co-show-runner Jaclyn Moore has also spoken out, saying that The Closer was fundamentally different than even previous offensive Dave Chappelle specials.
Announcing that she’s boycotting the company following the release of the last season of Dear White People, which premiered in September, Jaclyn Moore said that she, “will not work with [Netflix] as long as they continue to put out and profit from blatantly and dangerously homophobic content.”
“This time it felt different,” she said of The Closer. “This is the first time I felt like, ‘Oh, people are laughing at this joke and they’re agreeing that it’s absurd to call me a woman.’”
It is unknown how long Terra Field, and her two fellow employees, will remain suspended.