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Celebrities who have shunned Netflix and Dave Chappelle in trans rights debacle

A Dave Chappelle routine poking fun at trans people has sparked a furious backlash from activists, celebrities and workers at Netflix, which aired the comedian’s stand-up special.

A trans employee tweeted her anger at the release of the special, called The Closer, while Jaclyn Moore, a showrunner for Netflix’s Dear White People, said she would boycott the platform for future projects. Staff at the streamer have also taken part in a walkout and a pro-trans rally in California.

In his routine, Chappelle declared himself to be a “Terf,” which stands for trans-exclusionary radical feminist and is used to describe some anti-trans campaigners.

He also defended Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, who has been accused of transphobia, and called a trans woman’s genitalia “not quite what it is.”

Chappelle said: “They canceled JK Rowling—my God. Effectually, she said gender was fact, the trans community got mad as s***, they started calling her a Terf … I’m Team Terf.”

The comedian also told a long joke about a fight with a lesbian, calling the woman “him” throughout, and said “gender is a fact,” discounting the identity of trans people.

After The Closer‘s release, Terra Field, a trans woman and senior software engineer at Netflix, shared her dismay on social media, listing the names of trans people who have suffered violence in a lengthy Twitter thread.

However, the comedian was defended by Netflix’s co-CEO Ted Sarandos in letters to staff. A memo obtained by Variety read: “Chappelle is one of the most popular stand-up comedians today, and we have a longstanding deal with him. His last special ‘Sticks & Stones,’ also controversial, is our most watched, stickiest and most award-winning stand-up special to date.

“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.”

This prompted the walkout by Netflix employees, which was supported by a number of celebrities. Sarandos has since admitted that he “screwed up” in his communications with staff, but has continued to defend Chappelle’s routine. These are some of the celebrities and performers who are backing the Netflix protesters.

Dan Levy

Dan Levy at the 2021 Met Gala
John Shearer/Getty Images

Schitt’s Creek creator Dan Levy shared his support for the protest on Instagram, saying he stands with “every employee at Netflix using their voice to ensure a safe and support work environment.” He said there “isn’t a debate” around the harmfulness of transphobia.

Levy’s award-winning sitcom is not made by Netflix, but has streamed on the platform for some years.

Jaclyn Moore

In a blistering thread of tweets, Dear White People showrunner Jaclyn Moore said watching The Closer made her cry.

Doing that Pride interview talking about transitioning was me lending my face to promote @Netflix as inclusive. I want to believe that’s true. I cried telling that story. I cried watching Chappelle today too. Different reasons. https://t.co/2naqrzW0G2

— Jaclyn Moore (@JaclynPMoore) October 7, 2021

She said: “I told the story of my transition for @netflix and @most’s Pride week. It’s a network that’s been my home on @DearWhitePeople. I’ve loved working there.

“I will not work with them as long as they continue to put out and profit from blatantly and dangerously transphobic content.”

Jameela Jamil

Jameela Jamil
Actress Jameela Jamil
Amanda Edwards/Getty Images

British actress Jameela Jamil, who stars in Netflix comedy The Good Place, attended the rally in California and reportedly took part in a video for the Netflix CEO, discussing the damage caused by transphobia.

I really wish I hadn’t seen Chapelle’s closing show. I hope he stays away for a long time, maybe until this legit OBSESSION with undermining trans people goes away. Such a smart man, so willfully misinformed and committed to showing us what an out of touch bellend he’s becoming💔

— Jameela Jamil 🌈 (@jameelajamil) October 8, 2021

She tweeted: “I really wish I hadn’t seen Chapelle’s closing show. I hope he stays away for a long time, maybe until this legit OBSESSION with undermining trans people goes away. Such a smart man, so willfully misinformed and committed to showing us what an out of touch bellend he’s becoming.”

Elliot Page

Elliot Page
Elliot Page
ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

Elliot Page, who came out as trans in December 2020 and stars in Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy, also shared a tweet of support for the employees walking out.

He wrote: “I stand with the trans, nonbinary, and BIPOC employees at Netflix fighting for more and better trans stories and a more inclusive workplace #NetflixWalkout.”

George Takei

George Takei
George Takei
Getty/Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for PFLAG

Veteran Star Trek actor and campaigner George Takei also spoke out against Chappelle, asking whether the response would have been the same if the comedian had mocked a group based on their race or religion.

If Dave Chappelle had so blatantly attacked another minority group, such as Asians, Muslims, or Jews, would Netflix have so readily stood by his artistic freedom? It’s hard not to feel like trans people are considered fair game in today’s America. This is why we must speak out.

— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) October 15, 2021

He tweeted: “If Dave Chappelle had so blatantly attacked another minority group, such as Asians, Muslims, or Jews, would Netflix have so readily stood by his artistic freedom? It’s hard not to feel like trans people are considered fair game in today’s America. This is why we must speak out.”

Billy Eichner

Billy Eichner
Billy Eichner
Rich Fury/Getty Images for Vanity Fair

Billy Eichner, also known as Billy on the Street, whose game show of the same name is available on Netflix, spoke out in support of the rally, retweeting numerous posts about changes of venues to aid the event.

He tweeted: “Sending my love and full support to all trans employees and their allies participating in the #NetflixWalkout today.”

Other celebrities who appeared in support of the pro-trans walkout in a video sent to Sarandos include Jonathan Van Ness from Queer Eye, Colton Haynes, Angelica Ross, Sara Ramirez, Our Lady J and Eureka O’Hara.



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