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Twitter made it easier to harass transgender users

Twitter made it easier to harass transgender users


The platform quietly removed specific protections against targeted misgendering and deadnaming from its Hateful Conduct Policy.

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An illustration of the Twitter logo.
Illustration: Alex Castro / The Verge

Twitter has quietly altered its Hateful Conduct Policy to remove long-standing protections for its transgender users, as spotted by the nonprofit organization Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). In a section that prohibits attacking other users with “repeated slurs, tropes or other content that intends to dehumanize, degrade or reinforce negative or harmful stereotypes about a protected category,” Twitter removed a line that specifically includes the “targeted misgendering or deadnaming of transgender individuals.”

According to Wayback Machine, the inclusion of misgendering and deadnaming was removed on April 8th — the day after Twitter announced it had updated the policy to clarify how it defines targeted harassment. The company had initially adjusted the same policy back in 2018 to better clarify that its protections against abuse applied to misgendering and deadnaming. GLAAD describes the adjustments as “the latest example of just how unsafe the company is for users and advertisers alike.”

Twitter’s modified policy is a step back for the platform, especially when Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube don’t even maintain the same protections for trans people that Twitter once had. Last year, GLAAD gave each of these platforms fairly low scores in regard to LGBTQ safety, privacy, and expression but noted that Twitter and TikTok were the only two platforms out of the bunch that had specific policies against deadnaming and misgendering trans users.

“Social media companies committed to maintaining safe environments for LGBTQ people should be working to improve hate speech policies, not deleting long-standing ones,” said GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis in a statement.

Sadly, this change doesn’t come as much of a surprise with Elon Musk at the helm of Twitter. Musk has espoused transphobic ideologies in the past and also implemented a policy that let transphobic users and other controversial figures back on Twitter. Last year, Musk’s daughter, who is trans, reportedly cut ties with her father.

Twitter hasn’t completely pulled protections for trans users, however. Its Hateful Conduct Policy still explicitly prohibits attacking others based on “race, ethnicity, national origin, caste, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease,” but the choice to intentionally remove all mention of misgendering and deadnaming seems like a calculated jab at the trans community.