Transgender Netflix employees are planning a walkout to protest a Dave Chappelle comedy special they say is transphobic as the streamer's content chief again defended the controversial episode, US media reported Thursday.

In "The Closer," stand-up star Chappelle asserts "gender is a fact" and criticizes what he says is the thin skin of the trans community. The episode has been condemned by multiple LGBTQ groups.

An internal message among trans employees this week accuses Netflix of "repeatedly releasing content that harms the Trans community and continually failing to create content that represents and uplifts Trans content," according to The Verge.

The walkout is reportedly planned for next Wednesday.

Trans identity has become a contentious topic within entertainment in recent years, as those in the industry have waded into a debate increasingly dominated by fluid notions of gender.

"Harry Potter" author JK Rowling sparked an uproar last year with controversial comments asserting the reality of biological sex that many deemed to be transphobic.

Dave Chappelle
Dave Chappelle, 48, has been accused of transphobia over Netflix specials including "The Closer" Photo: / Robyn Beck

The planned protest comes after co-CEO Ted Sarandos sent a company-wide email seen by multiple US outlets that said the Chappelle episode was popular, an important expression of artistic freedom, and would not cause real-world harm.

He previously told employees that Netflix would not be removing the show, which first appeared on the platform last week.

Three Netflix employees were reportedly suspended after crashing a virtual meeting for executives over the episode.

But Terra Field, a software engineer who identifies as queer and trans, tweeted Tuesday that she had been "re-instated" and "felt vindicated."

In his latest routine, Chappelle says he does not hate transgender people, and tells a long anecdote about a trans woman comic, whom he describes as a friend, who came to his defense in earlier entanglements with the community.

Chappelle, 48, has also been accused of transphobia over previous Netflix specials.

Netflix did not immediately respond to AFP request for comment.

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