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Elon Musk’s X has a new policy that discourages — but doesn’t prohibit — anti-trans hate


X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, just became a slightly safer space for its transgender users – even if Elon Musk would prefer his right-wing fans not pay too much attention to it.

On Thursday, tech news outlet Ars Technica noticed that the Musk-owned social media platform quietly added new rules to its “Abuse and Harassment” policies. Under a newly added section titled “Use of Prior Names and Pronouns,” X added policies that protect the site’s transgender users from misgendering and dead naming harassment. 

The new X policy reads as follows:

“We 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. Given the complexity of determining whether such a violation has occurred, we must always hear from the target to determine if a violation has occurred.”

Basically, these new rules discourage targeted harassment of individual transgender users by using incorrect pronouns or addressing them by their former name prior to their transition. It should be noted that X is not prohibiting this type of content outright, just making it harder to find. 

These new policies aren’t perfect but they are certainly welcome additions to X. GLAAD’s senior director of social media safety Jenni Olson told Ars Technica that while the self-reporting mechanism required by the targeted user is not ideal, X’s specificity in discouraging anti-trans harassment by explicitly creating rules around deadnaming and misgendering is a step in the right direction. 

Previous transgender protections removed by Musk

This rule change is an uncharacteristic move for the platform under Musk.

X, then known as Twitter, used to have policies in place prohibiting deadnaming and misgendering of users on the platform. 

Those rules read as follows:

“We prohibit targeting others with repeated slurs, tropes or other content that intends to degrade or reinforce negative or harmful stereotypes about a protected category. This includes targeted misgendering or deadnaming of transgender individuals. In some cases, such as (but not limited to) severe, repetitive usage of slurs, or racist/sexist tropes where the context is to harass or intimidate others, we may require Tweet removal. In other cases, such as (but not limited to) moderate, isolated usage where the context is to harass or intimidate others, we may limit Tweet visibility as further described below.”

Then, in April of last year, just months after Musk acquired the platform, those anti-trans harassment rules were quietly removed from Twitter’s policies.

Further signaling support for the right-wing audience Musk has cultivated over the past few years, the X-owner even went so far as declaring the terms “cisgender” and “cis” to be slurs that sometimes even appear with a warning label on the platform.

Musk receives backlash from the right-wing

X’s new rules discouraging harassment of trans users are a bit weaker than the guidelines it had in place last year. Most notable is the fact that these hate posts won’t be removed nor will users be suspended for publishing them. X will just limit the visibility of this type of content so fewer users see it in their feeds. 

Also, interestingly, the new policy doesn’t use the terms “misgendering” or “deadnaming,” even though it does describe what the terms are.

It’s unclear exactly why X has somewhat reversed course. Since Musk has taken over X, the company has lost significant advertising revenue due in part to hate speech permeating on the platform. The move to make X a marginally safer place for even more of its users is also a likely move to make it a safer place for advertisers to spend their money.

However, Musk’s right-wing fanbase have already voiced their disapproval of these new rules.

For example, the owner of the anti-LGBTQ account “Libs of TikTok” Chaya Raichik tested out the new rules by purposefully misgendering transgender influencers and celebrities in a post and telling users to find her on her other account if she gets suspended over it.

“You’re not going to get suspended,” Musk replied.

Raichik responded by complaining that she will still get “shadowbanned” and lose visibility. When Raichik asked why there needed to be a change, Musk said that the new rules were “just about the repeated, targeted harassment of an individual or person.”

But, these assurances from Musk were not enough. Right-wing X users continued to complain that their anti-trans harassment wouldn’t be promoted on the platform.

And it appears the right-wing blowback may work, as Musk has already signaled he may relent.

Replying to a user complaining about the new policy leading to “censorship,” Musk replied:

“Looking into it.”





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