Dave Chappelle Criticised for Transphobic Comedy Special

Pressure to remove Dave Chappelle’s special from Netflix has mounted both from inside and outside of the transgender company over Chappelle’s controversial jokes.

Dave Chappelle in his latest Netflix special 'The Closer'
Image: Time

Netflix’s co-chief executive in an internal memo defended Dave Chappelle and said the streaming platform will not remove “The Closer.” The executive, Ted Sarandos, cited “creative freedom” as one reason the company intends to keep the show online.

Sarandos wrote although some people may find stand-up comedy to be mean-spirited, “Our members enjoy it, and it’s an important part of our content offering.”

In his memo to employees, however, Sarandos said the special’s content does not violate company policy.

“Chappelle is one of the most popular stand-up comedians today, and we have a long-standing deal with him,” Sarandos added in the memo obtained by news outlets. “His last special ‘Sticks & Stones,’ also controversial, is our most-watched, stickiest, and most award-winning stand-up special to date.”


The memo followed condemnation from Jaclyn Moore, a transgender writer who worked on the Netflix original “Dear White People.” Terra Field, a transgender software engineer at Netflix, also criticized the special.

Advocacy groups, including GLAAD and the National Black Justice Coalition, also condemned the special and asked for its removal.

During his routine, Chappelle joked about transgender genitalia, said: “gender is a fact” and told his audience he was on “team TERF,” an acronym for a trans-exclusionary radical feminist. He also defended J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books, who has been criticized for making transphobic statements. Chappelle was criticized for joking about the trans community in the previous special mentioned by Sarandos, “Sticks & Stones.”

Trans Rights Advocates

The National Black Justice Coalition, a civil rights advocacy group, said in a statement to CNN that “Netflix should immediately pull The Closer from its platform and directly apologize to the transgender community.”

Likewise, GLAAD, a group that advocates for the LGBTQ community, tweeted last week that “Dave Chappelle’s brand has become synonymous with ridiculing trans people and other marginalized communities.”

It added that “audiences don’t support platforming anti-LGBTQ diatribes.”

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