Twitter Removes Protections for Trans Users as Elon Musk Posts Constant Transphobia

Musk's behavior and business decisions have made the platform increasingly dangerous for trans people.

Twitter Removes Protections for Trans Users as Elon Musk Posts Constant Transphobia
Photo:Chesnot (Getty Images)

At a time when protections for transgender individuals are already being rolled back and legislated against, Twitter has seemingly chosen which side of history they want to cozy up next to. Today, under Elon Musk’s leadership, Twitter dropped language from its Hateful Content Policy that penalized users for targeted deadnaming and misgendering of trans people. Given Musk’s track record of being a transphobic troll, this is unfortunately not surprising at all.

The Hateful Content Policy originally read:

“We prohibit targeting others with repeated slurs, tropes or other content that intends to dehumanize, degrade or reinforce negative or harmful stereotypes about a protected category. This includes targeted misgendering or deadnaming of transgender individuals.”

But as of Tuesday, that last sentence has been removed. The language that prohibits attacks against people based on their gender or gender identity remains but, for reasons unknown, Twitter no longer feels they have to clarify that that includes attacks against transgender people. A bold and frankly bigoted policy change amidst the current political landscape.

And a peek at Musk’s recent Twitter account shows that in between sharing jokes fit for 2013 Reddit, he’s been in top-tier transphobic troll mode as of late. “What’s a woman?” he replied to a Twitter survey about accounts that use women in profile pictures. (The survey itself was tweeted out by Steven Mark Ryan, a Musk superfan and Musk-news Youtuber, and seemed to be intended as a bit of a rabble-rouser.) The “what’s a woman?” response has been gaining popularity as a clap back for right-wingers attempting to catch people in a “gotcha moment.” Musk has also been keen to recycle hack pronoun wisecracks, almost like he thinks there’s a chance Dave Chappelle might ask him to be the opener on his next tour.

Musk also has an estranged transgender daughter who filed papers to change her name in June. On the legal forms, she cited that her reason for doing so was “Gender Identity and the fact that I no longer live with or wish to be related to my biological father in any way, shape or form.” Who could possibly blame her?
In October, Musk told the Financial Times of their relationship: “It’s full-on communism . . . and a general sentiment that if you’re rich, you’re evil.” He blamed her elite schools for teaching her about communism and keeping them apart.

Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and CEO of GLAAD, condemned Twitter’s latest move in a statement:

Twitter’s decision to covertly roll back its longtime policy is the latest example of just how unsafe the company is for users and advertisers alike. 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 decision to remove protections for transgender people is consistent with this ghoul’s disregard for trans people’s safety, including the safety of his own child. I’m sure it flatters Musk to the legion of hateful, conservative legislators who are working on their home turfs to restrict transgender protections—the same legislators who oversee regulatory committees like the Senate Judiciary or Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation committees, that Musk might eventually be held accountable to.

Jokes and wisecracks aside, this removal of protective language makes clear exactly where Musk stands on the matter. And it surely is not on the side of transgender people or their allies.

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