Bias Watch

Rightwing group Prager U spends $1 million to “take over” Twitter/X with a transphobic film

A grey-haired white man in glasses, a suit, and tie sits and looks downward as a brick wall is behind him.
Dennis Prager Photo: C-SPAN screenshot

The conservative Prager University Foundation has paid over $1 million to X (formerly known as Twitter) to promote its 21-minute transphobic film, Detrans: The Dangers of Gender-Affirming Care. The “takeover” ads for the film will appear on the top of X users’ feeds as a result. The ads also show Twitter’s increasing willingness to allow transphobia under the ownership of transphobic billionaire Elon Musk.

Though the film warns against trans-related medical care for minors, it features Daisy Strongin and Abel Garcia, two de-transitioned individuals who initially transitioned as adults. The film also features no physicians, NBC News reported. Most major medical associations recommend gender-affirming care as safe, effective, and essential to the well-being of trans people, and only 1% of people who receive gender-affirming care ever de-transition.

“Viewers [of the film] will have a better understanding of how young Americans are being manipulated by social media and medical professionals to undergo life-altering surgeries that often come with major regret,” Craig Strazzeri, PragerU’s chief marketing officer, said, according to the aforementioned publication.

The film echoes right-wing narratives about gender-affirming care at a time when 22 states have passed restrictions on puberty blockers, hormone therapy, and other such care methods for minors. Some of these restrictions have been blocked in courts as a form of sex-based medical discrimination that denies the bodily autonomy and medical decision-making of young people and their supportive families.

While right-wingers have embraced de-transitioners like Chloe Cole as proof that some trans people regret their medical transitions, a 2021 review of 27 studies on recipients of gender-affirming surgery found that only about 1% regretted their transitions. Studies have shown that gender-affirming care improves mental health and reduces suicidality in trans youth.

Prager University is not a nationally accredited institute of higher learning and its founder, Dennis Prager, does not possess any graduate degrees. Nevertheless, the organization releases videos that vilify racially inclusive education, deny the existence of the gender wage gap, and claim that white people are unfairly villainized for stealing the land of Native Americans.

Twitter removed its policy against misgendering in April, and it removed the ability for users to specifically report anti-trans harassment on the site in October. The social media platform’s owner, Musk, has a long history of spreading transphobic rhetoric. In June 2022, his trans daughter legally changed her name because she wanted no connection to her “biological father in any way, shape, or form.”

At the start of Pride month, Musk tweeted out The Daily Wire‘s transphobic film What Is A Woman? The film was created by anti-trans extremist and Daily Wire broadcaster Matt Walsh and is filled with misinformation and distortions. 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.

On 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.” He 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.

In March, the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) found that posts linking LGBTQ+ people to “grooming” and pedophilia have increased by 119% under Musk.

According to the study, five high-profile anti-LGBTQ+ accounts — including Chaya Raichik’s Libs of TikTok, Jaimee Michell’s Gays Against Groomers, and those of right-wing pundit Christopher Rufo, YouTuber Tim Pool, and James Lindsay — were set to generate $6.4 million in ad revenue per year for Twitter.

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