News (USA)

X reinstates ban on anti-trans hate speech, but Elon Musk implies it’s meaningless

Elon Musk stands between the logos for X and Twitter
Elon Musk stands between the logos for X and Twitter Photo: Shutterstock

X has quietly reinstated an anti-harassment policy that forbids users from misgendering or deadnaming others. However, X’s transphobic billionaire owner Elon Musk — who removed the policy in April 2023 — suggested he may repeal the policy once again after complaints by anti-LGBTQ+ troll Chaya Raichik, who goes by Libs of TikTok online.

In a recently updated section of X’s policies covering the “Use of Prior Names and Pronouns,” the site’s administrators said that X will “reduce the visibility of posts that purposefully use different pronouns to address someone other than what that person uses for themselves, or that use a previous name that someone no longer goes by as part of their transition.”

The updated policy says that X administrators “must always hear from the target [of misgendering and deadnaming] to determine if a violation has occurred,” essentially leaving it up to targeted people to report any such harassment, the tech website Ars Technica reported.

Musk initially repealed X’s ban on misgendering and deadnaming, initially instated by the social media platform in 2018, when he realized his own transphobic tweets possibly violated the ban.

Shortly after news of the reinstated policy spread online, Raichik tested it by deliberately misgendering and deadnaming three famous trans individuals. In response to her February 29 post violating the policy, Musk wrote, “You’re not going to get suspended,” implying that the policy exists only in theory and won’t be consistently enforced, even if Raichik’s targets report her harassment.

The twitter exchange

In a subsequent exchange, Musk wrote that the policy only applies to “repeated, targeted harassment of a particular person.”

Predictably, Raichik responded, “Using the correct sex based pronouns for someone is ‘harassment’? We’re being forced to lie? What about harassment in general? There are accounts that repeatedly target and harass specific individuals in an obsessive way. What constitutes ‘repeated’ and ‘targeted’ and why do only one group of people get this special treatment?”

Her argument is disingenuous since even cisgender people can be misgendered and deadnamed. Moreover, X’s policies ban harassment against anyone; the policy in question just notes that deadnaming and misgendering are forms of harassment that are banned.

As Raichik’s followers complained about the policy while misgendering other well-known trans individuals, another X user eventually asked Musk, “Will you reverse the Pronoun policy on X because it will definitely lead to censorship on this platform?” Musk replied, “Looking into it.” His response suggested that the policy may be repealed.

Musk has a long history of spreading transphobic rhetoric, and trans people have long been worried about the effects his purchase of X would have on them. Studies have found that hate speech has proliferated on the site, generating millions of dollars for the website since Musk purchased it, scaring away big-name advertisers in the process.

X quietly updated its policy around the same time that the LGBTQ+ media watchdog GLAAD issued a report asking social media platforms to explicitly recognize targeted misgendering and deadnaming as forms of hate speech.

Of the six major social media platforms — Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Threads, YouTube, and X — only TikTok “expressly prohibits targeted misgendering and deadnaming in its hate and harassment policy,” GLAAD wrote.

Ari Drennen, LGBTQ+ program director for the hate speech watchdog site Media Matters, recently predicted that X will quietly reimplement policies repealed by Musk to win back advertisers who don’t want their brands featured next to hate speech.

Don't forget to share:

Support vital LGBTQ+ journalism

Reader contributions help keep LGBTQ Nation free, so that queer people get the news they need, with stories that mainstream media often leaves out. Can you contribute today?

Cancel anytime · Proudly LGBTQ+ owned and operated

Two states defeated anti-trans bills while the APA denounced gender-affirming care bans

Previous article

Here’s this week’s Weekly News Quiz

Next article