'Misgendering' a Transgender Can Now Get Your Social Media Shut Down


As I write this, Louis Farrakhan’s now-infamous speech where he alludes to Jews as “termites” is still up on Twitter. Apparently, this is the sort of stuff that @jack and his minions think is OK on the social media platform.

But don’t you dare point out that the celebrity known as Caitlyn Jenner was once Bruce Jenner. That’ll get you banned like whoa.

In a profoundly disquieting addition to Twitter’s terms of service quietly rolled out in October, “misgendering” or “deadnaming” a transgender individual can result in a permanent ban from the service, particularly if the individual doing the “misgendering” is “engaging primarily in abusive behavior.”

So, you may be wondering what those two words mean if you’re not up on your trans terminology.

“Misgendering” is fairly simple: It means saying that Caitlyn Jenner (or someone in a similar situation) is actually a biological man and using personal pronouns to that effect.

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“Deadnaming” is a similar concept; it’s using the name the transgender person used when identifiying with the biological gender of birth. That name is “dead” to trans advocates, hence “deadnaming.”

“We recognize that if people experience abuse on Twitter, it can jeopardize their ability to express themselves,” the terms of service state. “Research has shown that some groups of people are disproportionately targeted with abuse online. This includes; women, people of color, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual individuals, marginalized and historically underrepresented communities. For those who identify with multiple underrepresented groups, abuse may be more common, more severe in nature and have a higher impact on those targeted…

“For this reason, we prohibit targeting individuals 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.”

A lot of what this means for those who don’t ascribe to liberal orthodoxy on gender depends on what “targeted” means. In an ideal universe, it would simply affect those who were using it to troll trans individuals. My guess, however, is that it means whatever the hell Twitter wants it to mean in the situation — which means a bludgeon against anyone Twitter considers troublesome.

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The move was extra-controversial as it began making the media rounds concurrently with the mysterious perma-ban of conservative pundit, Marine veteran and former congressional candidate Jesse Kelly from the platform.

In social media reaction, as reported by The Hill, Kelly has been presented as a sort of secular saint on Twitter in the wake of the ban, a milquetoast whose politics are well within the mainstream of conservative thought. #FreeJesseKelly-hashtagged posts abound, all of which seem to insist that we’re dealing with the second coming of William F. Buckley.

Well, to quote Patrick Swayze’s philosophically inclined bouncer in “Road House,” opinions vary. The radio host was preternaturally fond of saying that we were heading toward a second civil war with a kind of barely restrained glee, which never sat right with this observer even as he agreed with most of Kelly’s positions.

Nevertheless, none of that should constitute a bannable offense on Twitter and the company can’t seem to actually point to a tweet that was against its terms of service, nor can Kelly’s detractors on either the right or left. To say this is deeply disturbing is akin to saying that Myspace has lost a bit of its social media clout.

When Alex Jones and Infowars were banned, there was at least the fig leaf of “fake news” and terms of service violations that Twitter tried to put over it. With James Woods, there was the ridiculous excuse that a months-old joke meme could affect the midterm elections. Now Twitter’s not even trying to come up with excuses. You want to know why Jesse Kelly was banned? Because we said so, that’s why.

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So be good and don’t “deadname” — unless you want to be next. You don’t want to be next, do you? Remember what happened to Meghan Murphy. She was a progressive feminist — and she still got banned for questioning transgenderism. If progressivism can’t protect you, what makes you think hiding behind the free exchange of ideas will?

It’s pointed out, ad nauseum, that Twitter is a private company and can ban whoever it wants. A company doing something legal doesn’t necessarily make it right, however.

When the once-“free speech wing of the free speech party” decides that only one type of speech on an issue needs to be heard, or that a certain tenor of speech shouldn’t be allowed even if it isn’t prima facie offensive, that’s a serious ethical issue, particularly when you consider the air Twitter takes up in the social media room.

It’s now official: Their terms of service when it comes to “hate” consists of whatever breeze is blowing at the left’s empty sails.

The message is clear: If you’re right-of-center and want to use Twitter, you aren’t safe. When it comes to conservatives, Twitter doesn’t care when it decides to “jeopardize their ability to express themselves.”

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture