Twitter ‘banned transphobia’ more than a year ago – but research shows the ban is failing trans people

Piers Morgan smokes a cigar whilst watching the racing on day two of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 19, 2019 in Ascot, England.

Despite having banned misgendering and deadnaming in what was hailed by many as a pro-trans move, Twitter remains a site of abuse for the trans community.

A year ago, Twitter updated its terms of service to prohibit misgendering and deadnaming on its platform in an effort to curtail anti-trans abuse.

The social-media company clearly said when it made the changes last year that any user deliberately or repeatedly targeting a trans person with deadnaming or misgendering would face having their account permanently suspended.

And in the first six months of 2019, Twitter actioned more than half a million reports of incidents that breached the hateful conduct policy.

But research released last month by Ditch the Label, which compared transphobia across a range of sites including social-media platforms, found that five per cent of general discussion about trans issues on Twitter contained abuse.

The terms of service, updated last year, say: “We prohibit targeting individuals with repeated slurs, tropes or other content that intends to dehumanise, degrade or reinforce negative or harmful stereotypes about a protected category. This includes targeted misgendering or deadnaming of transgender individuals.”

But multiple people that Forbes spoke to disputed that the policy has had an impact on the amount of abuse they receive on Twitter.

The US activist Rain Dove told Forbes that if Twitter was serious about banning transphobic abuse like deadnaming and misgendering, people like Piers Morgan would have been banned from the platform.

“Piers has broken the rules that exist about targeting trans people several times and should be banned from Twitter,” Dove said. “People like Piers often only rage out online for clicks. To test the principles to free speech. And keep inching for space in what they believe to be a closing world for their voices.”

And non-binary filmmaker Fox Fisher told Forbes that they’d been trolled by Piers Morgan just a few weeks ago.

“I feel the level of hate hasn’t decreased,” they said, adding, “Piers Morgan trolled me just a few weeks ago.”

Twitter told PinkNews in a statement: “Under our hateful conduct policy, we take robust action when we see behaviour that includes targeted abuse based on a protected characteristic on our service.

“If you target an individual and deliberately deadname or misgender them, action will be taken. Accounts whose primary purpose is inciting harm towards others on the basis of ace, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or disease – have no place on our service.”