Elon Musk’s Twitter rolls back policy protecting trans users from misgendering and deadnaming

Elon musk twitter

Twitter has quietly dropped a longstanding policy protecting transgender people from targeted deadnaming and misgendering.

The social media site, owned by CEO Elon Musk, has changed its hateful content policy to remove a sentence about targeted misgendering or deadnaming of individuals, that specifically protects the trans community.

Twitter’s policy, which prohibits “targeted harassment, including repeated slurs, tropes” or content intended to dehumanise protected categories, has been in effect since 2018, prior to Musk’s acquisition.

Prior to this move, the platform’s hateful content policy read: “We prohibit targeting others 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.”

The removal of the final section, which referring to deadnaming and misgendering, was described by LGBTQ+ nonprofit GLAAD as “the latest example of just how unsafe the company is for users and advertisers alike”.

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GLAAD CEO and president Sarah Kate Ellis said: “This decision to roll back LGBTQ+ safety pulls Twitter even more out of step with TikTok, Pinterest and Meta, which all maintain similar policies to protect their transgender users at a time when anti-transgender rhetoric online is leading to real world discrimination and violence.”

The move means that Twitter is falling behind other social media companies including TikTok and Pinterest, which have both explicitly banned misgendering, deadnaming, misogyny and the promotion of ‘conversion therapy’ practices.

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Similarly, Facebook owner Meta has publicly stated that it prohibits “violent or dehumanising content directed against people who identify as LGBTQ and remove claims about someone’s gender identity upon their request”.

It also ignores overwhelming evidence that targeted harassment has an adverse effect on the wellbeing of LGBTQ+ people.

Targeted misgendering and deadnaming were identified by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) as a form of hate speech in a March report that addressed anti-trans rhetoric at the right-wing conference CPAC this year.

The advocacy group described the acts as rejecting the “existence of trans people” and denying them “recognition and respect”.

“Social media companies committed to maintaining safe environments for LGBTQ+ people should be working to improve hate speech policies, not deleting long-standing ones,” Ellis continued.

Twitter has seen a major rise in anti-trans rhetoric following Musk’s acquisition

After the world’s second-wealthiest man reluctantly bought the platform in October 2022, transphobic remarks were found to have risen by at least 1,458 times per day across the remainder of last year.

Additionally, racist, anti-Black comments increased to a height of 3,876 times a day.

After the CEO claimed that hate speech impressions were lower than expected with a vague graph posted in November, users asked how he was defining hate speech.

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A survey in February 2023 also found that 60 per cent of LGBTQ+ organisations and activists had reported an increase in abusive speech since Musk’s takeover.

Musk himself has posted several anti-LGBTQ+ tweets in the past, including claims that a “woke mind virus” needs to be defeated, blaming “communist” universities for his trans daughter’s fraught relationship with him, and making false claims about gender-affirming surgery.

His historically anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric caused several queer pundits to predict that Twitter’s hateful conduct policy would be changed in future.

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