Terra Field is a trans Netflix employee who was suspended following a Twitter thread taking a stand on the new Dave Chappelle special, “The Closer,” The Verge reported. Sources told The Verge the suspension was due to Field trying to enter a director-level meeting she was not invited to attend, the news outlet reported.
Field’s LinkedIn page says she is a senior software engineer at Netflix, based in San Francisco, California.
Netflix sent a statement to The Verge saying Field was not suspended for her tweets. The Verge was the first news outlet to report the story. The news outlet reported two other employees, who also were not invited to the meeting, were also suspended for trying to attend it.
“It is absolutely untrue to say that we have suspended any employee for tweeting about this show,” the statement said, according to The Verge. “Our employees are encouraged to disagree openly and we support their right to do so.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Field Wrote a Twitter Thread About the Chappelle Special, Which Went Viral
Field wrote a lengthy Twitter thread October 6, 2021, responding to comments Chappelle made about the trans community on his new Netflix special, “The Closer.” She said Chappelle “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,” she goes on to say. “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 continued the thread, listing cases of deadly violence against trans people. The first tweet in the thread had 13,500 retweets October 11, 2021.
Field did not comment directly on the suspension, but wrote on Twitter, “I just want to say I appreciate everyone’s support. You’re all the best, especially when things are difficult.”
A few minutes later, she wrote, “Someone I chatted with on Grindr years ago just messaged me to tell me they’re proud of me for standing up for myself. True allyship right there.”
Field also shared comments she received on her thread, which included people saying she was “a gay dude.” She described a second shot of screenshots as “a tasting flight of bigotry.”
While she thanked the public for their support, she said she “will be completely fine atop my pile of privilege.” She directed those who want to support the community to “#BlackTransCrowdFund and #TransCrowdFund.”
2. Field, Who Is From New Jersey, Previously Held Positions With Other Major Tech Companies Including Blizzard & Cloudera
Field details her work with Netflix on her LinkedIn profile, which she writes began in February 2019. For 10 months, she has served as the Vice President of the Trans Netflix Employee Resource Group, which “exists to make Netflix a great place for Trans* people to work,” she writes. “We work to advocate for and represent transgender and gender non-conforming individuals in the workplace by way of increasing awareness, visibility and education about the Trans* experience. I also lead the Education and Talent Acquisition Pods of the ERG.”
She became a senior software engineer in April, she wrote.
“Part of the Compute Platform group within Netflix’s Cloud Infrastructure Engineering org. I work on the base operating system images (both AMIs & containers),” Field wrote.
She identifies herself as a “Jersey Girl” on her Twitter profile. She wrote on her profile that her career began in 2004 as an IT manager and network administrator for the Clayton Board of Education in Clayton, New Jersey. She went on to hold positions including work as a Solutions Consultant for Cloudera. She worked for Blizzard Entertainment for about four years, according to her profile, and held positions including Senior Systems Engineer.
3. Field Drew a Spotlight to Deadly Violence Against the Transgender & Gender Non-Conforming Community in Her Viral Twitter Thread
Field’s Twitter thread highlights deadly violence against the transgender and gender non-conforming community, referencing information from the Human Rights Campaign on deadly violence against the community in 2021. The HRC wrote about 38 people who died in 2021 up to September 30.
Field wrote in her thread that comments about “The Closer,” and taking a stand against negative comments against the transgender community is not about being “offended.” She wrote that she routinely faces negative comments, but said her experiences do not reach the level perpetuated against people of color and especially trans women of color.
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. ‘Thin skin.’ What we object to is the harm that content like this does to the trans community (especially trans people of color) and VERY specifically Black trans women. People who look like me aren’t being killed. I’m a white woman, I get to worry about Starbucks writing ‘Tara’ on my drink. Promoting TERF ideology (which is what we did by giving it a platform yesterday) directly harms trans people, it is not some neutral act. This is not an argument with two sides. It is an argument with trans people who want to be alive and people who don’t want us to be.
She went on to write brief memorials to each of the 38 people who have died this year in acts of violence.
“38 members of our community who are dead because our society devalues trans people and trans experiences. 38 people who just wanted to be themselves. 38 people who in many cases struggled with not having the means to transition the way they wanted to, but did it anyway,” she wrote. “These are the people that a callous disregard for the lives of trans people by our society have taken from us, and they all deserved better.”
4. Netflix & Its Employees Had Internal Discussions About the Line Between Commentary & Hate
The Verge reported that Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos sent an email to its employees responding to questions about content offered by the streaming platform. Sarandos said in the email that the show would not be removed, according to The Verge.
“It never feels good when people are hurting, especially our colleagues,” the email said, according to The Verge. “You should also be aware that some talent may join third parties in asking us to remove the show in the coming days, which we are not going to do.”
He went on to say that Netflix does not offer content “designed to incite hate or violence,” and that they do not believe “The Closer” crosses that line.
“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,” he wrote, according to The Verge. “I recognize, however, that distinguishing between commentary and harm is hard, especially with stand-up comedy which exists to push boundaries. 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.”
Here is the email in its entirety, according to The Verge:
I wanted to follow up on The Closer – Dave Chappelle’s latest special – as several of you have reached out following QBR asking what to say to your teams. It never feels good when people are hurting, especially our colleagues, so I wanted to give you some additional context. You should also be aware that some talent may join third parties in asking us to remove the show in the coming days, which we are not going to do.
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. 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, like Cuties, 365 Days, 13 Reasons Why, or My Unorthodox Life.
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. 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.
In terms of our commitment to inclusion, we’re working hard to ensure more people see their lives reflected on screen and that under-represented communities are not defined by the single story. So we’re proud of titles like Sex Education, Young Royals, Control Z and Disclosure. Externally, particularly in stand-up comedy, artistic freedom is obviously a very different standard of speech than we allow internally as the goals are different: entertaining people versus maintaining a respectful, productive workplace.
Today’s conversation on Entertain the World was timely. These are hard and uncomfortable issues. We all bring different values and perspectives so thank you for being part of the conversation as it’s important we’re clear about our operating principles.
5. Field’s Comments About ‘The Closer’ Were Among a Wave of Criticism for the Chappelle Special From Advocacy Groups & Others
GLAAD took a stand against “The Closer,” retweeting a review from NPR which said the new special “goes too far.”
GLAAD wrote, “Dave Chappelle’s brand has become synonymous with ridiculing trans people and other marginalized communities. Negative reviews and viewers loudly condemning his latest special is a message to the industry that audiences don’t support platforming anti-LGBTQ diatribes. We agree.”
The National Black Justice Coalition said in a statement to Variety that “The Closer” should be pulled from its platform, and that Netflix should issue an apology to the transgender community.
“With 2021 on track to be the deadliest year on record for transgender people in the United States — the majority of whom are Black transgender people — Netflix should know better,” NBJC executive director David Johns said in the statement to Variety. “Perpetuating transphobia perpetuates violence. Netflix should immediately pull ‘The Closer’ from its platform and directly apologize to the transgender community.”
Jaclyn Moore, the writer, executive producer and showrunner of “Dear White People,” wrote on Twitter that she will no longer work with Netflix “as long as they continue to put out and profit from blatantly and dangerously transphobic content.”
Moore wrote in a thread:
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.
I love so many of the people I’ve worked with at Netflix. Brilliant people and executives who have been collaborative and fought for important art… But I’ve been thrown against walls because, “I’m not a ‘real’ woman.” I’ve had beer bottles thrown at me. So, @Netflix, I’m done.