Amid the controversy surrounding Dave Chappelle’s special The Closer, which many have deemed transphobic, the comedian said he’s down to talk with the Netflix employees who staged a walkout on Wednesday.
In a statement shared with TMZ, a representative for Chappelle said that he would be up for speaking with those at the streaming giant who feel comments he made in the special were harmful towards the LGBTQ+ community. The representative added that Chappelle hasn’t been contacted about starting a dialogue or organizing a meeting to discuss the issue further.
One of the walkout organizers, Ashlee Marie Preston, previously claimed she invited Chappelle to talk about what he said in the controversial special, which Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos defended in leaked internal communications. Since then, Sarandos has admitted that he “screwed up the internal communication” regarding the backlash to The Closer.
Trans employees and allies staged their walkout on Wednesday, prompted by Sarandos’ defense of the special and Chappelle’s seemingly dismissive response to criticism. GLAAD and other civil rights organizations have slammed the special. The National Black Justice Coalition requested that Netflix remove The Closer altogether, highlighting that 2021 is “on track to be the deadliest year on record for transgender people in the United States.”
Around halfway through The Closer, Chappelle brought up the criticism that Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling had faced after she shared transphobic sentiments online. "They canceled her because she said in an interview—and this is not exactly what she said but effectually—she said gender was a fact," he said. "And then the trans community got mad as shit. They started calling her a TERF."
TERF, which stands for trans-exclusionary radical feminist, is often used as a label to refer to individuals who believe the existence of trans women poses a threat to the safety of cisgender women. “I’m team TERF,” Chappelle said. “I agree, Man. Gender is a fact.”
He did, however, insist he doesn’t believe “trans women aren’t women,” which he then followed with regressive comments. “I am just saying that those pussies that they got, you know what I mean? I’m not saying it’s not pussy but that’s like Beyond Pussy or Impossible Pussy,” Chappelle continued.