‘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.

“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…

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“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.

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.

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