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Elon Musk kicks off Pride Month by tripling down on transphobia

SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk at the SpaceX Falcon Heavy Flight 1 post launch press conference on February 6, 2018
SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk at the SpaceX Falcon Heavy Flight 1 post launch press conference on February 6, 2018 Photo: Daniel Oberhaus/Wikimedia Commons

Transphobic billionaire and Twitter owner Elon Musk tripled down on transphobia by allowing a transphobic film and hate speech on the platform and personally pledging to lobby against gender-affirming healthcare for transgender youth.

Last Thursday, Jeremy Boreing, CEO of the right-wing media outlet The Daily Wire, wrote on Twitter that the platform had canceled a distribution deal to promote The Daily Wire‘s transphobic film “What Is A Woman?” because the film misgenders trans people. The film was created by anti-trans extremist and Daily Wire broadcaster Matt Walsh.

“Twitter let us know that not only could we no longer purchase the package they offered, they would no longer provide us any support and would actually limit the reach of the film and label it as ‘hateful conduct’ because of ‘misgendering,’” Boreing wrote.

While Twitter removed its policy against misgendering in April, its policies still forbid directly attacking other people on the basis of gender identity.

“This was a mistake by many people at Twitter,” Musk wrote in response to Boreing’s complaint. “It is definitely allowed. Whether or not you agree with using someone’s preferred pronouns, not doing so is at most rude and certainly breaks no laws.” 

Musk later tweeted out the film, adding, “Every parent should watch this.” The film, which was posted by The Daily Wire on June 1, had been viewed 89.4 million times by early Monday morning. Walsh tweeted, “What a great way to ring in Pride Month,” after the film was allowed to run on Twitter.

Walsh’s film is filled with misinformation and distortions, including claims that gender-affirming surgeries are dangerous and experimental (they aren’t), that children can’t know if they’re transgender (they can), and that trans identities are a modern and Western invention (they’re not).

The decision to allow the film reportedly led to the departure of Twitter’s chief trust and safety Ella Irwin, its head of brand safety and ad quality, and A.J. Brown, and another brand safety program manager, NBC News reported.

Om June 1. Musk announced that he would “be actively lobbying to criminalize making severe, irreversible changes to children below the age of consent,” adding, “Shame on those who advocate this! It is utterly contemptible.” His pledge echoed right-wing misinformation about gender-affirming care for trans youth. Puberty blockers and hormone therapy are reversible, and gender-affirming surgeries aren’t conducted on minors.

Musk later tweeted his support for a comment made by anti-trans activist Jordan Peterson, who suggested that gender-affirming healthcare providers and therapists should be given long-term prison sentences without any parole or mercy. Musk wrote “Absolutely,” in agreement with Peterson’s suggestion.

A recent study from the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) found that Twitter ignores 99% of hate speech posted by Twitter Blue subscribers.

The CCDH’s study found that “Twitter failed to act on tweets containing racist, homophobic, neo-Nazi, antisemitic or conspiracy content posted in the last month” even though these tweets “clearly violate the platform’s policies against hateful conduct.”

Some of the tweets included “Tr**nies are pedophiles,” and “LGBTQ+ rights activists need IRON IN THEIR DIET. Preferably from a #AFiringSquad.”

The study noted that Twitter Blue users are given “prioritized rankings in conversations and search.”

“What gives blue tick hate actors confidence to spew their bile is the knowledge that Elon Musk simply doesn’t care about the civil and human rights of black people, Jews, Muslims, and LGBTQ+ people, as long as he can make his eight bucks a month,” Imran Ahmed, chief executive of the CCDH, said.

Musk has a transgender daughter who wants nothing to do with him and an ex-wife who left him to start dating a trans woman. Twitter is now worth only $15 billion, about a third of the $44 billion that Musk paid for it in 2022, CBS News reported.

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