The decline of Twitter continues.
In a quiet new rule change, Twitter has rolled back its prior protections for transgender users amid an international anti-trans movement on both sides of the pond, a worrying step backward for the Elon Musk-led company.
In a statement, LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD noted that Twitter has removed a line from its Hateful Conduct Policy meant to punish those who deliberately use the previous names or incorrect pronouns of transgender people, known respectively as "deadnaming" and "misgendering."
The rule change isn't exactly surprising, considering Musk has made his fair share of transphobic remarks on the platform. Besides, members of the transgender community have long voiced fears that they could face more harassment on Twitter under his leadership.
Before slashing the trans protections, the policy stated Twitter "prohibit[s] targeting others with repeated slurs, tropes or other content that intends to dehumanize, degrade or reinforce negative or harmful stereotypes about a protected category. This includes targeted misgendering or deadnaming of transgender individuals."
Captures taken by the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine show that on April 7, the line pertaining to trans people was still present in the policy, but by April 8, it was gone.
Enacted back in 2018, the anti-transphobia section of the policy was never enforced very well, as Harvard instructor and civil rights attorney Alexandra Caraballo pointed out on Twitter.
Nevertheless, slashing trans people from the Hateful Conduct Policy "greenlights further targeting of trans users," Caraballo noted.
In its statement, GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said that Twitter's "decision to covertly roll back its longtime policy is the latest example of just how unsafe the company is for users" and shows how "out of step" the Elon Musk-owned company is with other social media giants like TikTok and Meta-formerly Facebook.
Both TikTok and Meta "maintain similar policies to protect their transgender users at a time when anti-transgender rhetoric online is leading to real-world discrimination and violence," according to Ellis.
Indeed, this rule change comes in the wake of growing transphobic sentiment and legislation in both the United Kingdom and the US, where there's been a wave of laws targeting trans kids' access to affirming medical care. There have been several incidents of violent speech and actions directed at drag queens, trans people, and other LGBTQ and gender non-conforming folks.
Futurism emailed Twitter's press account for comment about the rule change and, like everyone else who's tried to get in touch with the account since March 19, was treated to an auto-response consisting of a poop emoji.
In a sense, getting a literal piece of shit response from Twitter makes sense in this case given that the company's new owner seems more bent on turning the site into an open-air sewer than one where people actually want to post.
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