HERE WE GO AGAIN on Gender Pronouns: Is Elon Musk Backsliding on Free Speech?

March 1st, 2024 12:40 PM

Elon Musk appears to have resurrected Twitter’s infamous policy of censoring those who refuse to use a person’s preferred pronouns. What’s worse is that he is now trying to defend it.

In January, X (formerly Twitter) quietly changed its “Abuse and Harassment” policy to state that the platform “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.” The changes echo the old Twitter regime’s deadnaming and misgendering policy. But the difference between the old gender pronoun policies and the new one is that X spun the latter with sanitized language and included a slightly lighter penalty. But censorship by another name still stinks to high heaven. 

The platform’s revised policy is ripe for abuse as X claims it will rely on the subjective opinions of transgender users to determine whether or not they have been harassed. “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,” the X policy reads.

Libs of TikTok creator Chaya Raichik called Musk out on his platform’s censorship backsliding in an X post. “Apparently X might’ve reinstated their ‘misgendering’ rule so I gotta test it out…,” she wrote. Raichik proceeded to bluntly refer to a number of high-profile transgenders by their biological sex to test how heavy-handed X’s new policy would be: “Richard Levine is male. He is a man. Dylan Mulvaney is male. He is a man. Ellen Page is female. She is a woman. If I get suspended you can find me at @libsoftiktok.” She continued: “In all seriousness @elonmusk can you please clarify this? Why the change?”

Musk responded by weakly defending the policy. “This is just about repeated, targeted harassment of a particular person,” he retorted. Musk’s response fails to recognize that the new policy makes X the referee between transgender users who may arbitrarily claim harassment and non-compliant users who refuse to bend the knee to leftist activists and lie about a person’s sex and self-appointed pronouns. 

Raichik pointed out this exact problem and the resulting unequal treatment. “Using the correct sex based pronouns for someone is ‘harassment’? We’re being forced to lie?” she asked. “What about harassment in general? There are accounts who repeatedly target and harass specific individuals in an obsessive way. What constitutes ‘repeated’ and ‘targeted’ and why do only one group of people get this special treatment?” 

Musk tried to reassure Raichik: “You’re not going to get suspended.” But Racihik dismissed Musk’s assurances as just empty talk: “Yeah just shadowbanned and less tweet visibility.” 

Musk appears to have a pattern of flip-flopping on this particular issue. Last April, Twitter took deadnaming and misgendering out of its “Hateful Conduct” policy after MRC called the platform out for a massive spike in censorship related to transgender-related posts. In June, despite the change, X pulled out of a deal with The Daily Wire after it had previously agreed to promote the What Is a Woman documentary reportedly due to “misgendering” in the film.

At the time, Musk responded with the complete opposite of what his Trust and Safety chief had previously claimed about the documentary. “This was a mistake by many people at Twitter. It is definitely allowed,” he said in a post at the time. “Whether or not you agree with using someone’s preferred pronouns, not doing so is at most rude and certainly breaks no laws.” 

Musk added, “I should note that I do personally use someone’s preferred pronouns, just as I use someone’s preferred name, simply from the standpoint of good manners. However, for the same reason, I object to rude behavior, ostracism or threats of violence if the wrong pronoun or name is used.”

It seems X is returning to Musk’s preferences as opposed to trying to mirror the law as he has continuously claimed. 

Conservatives are under attack. Contact your representatives and demand that Big Tech be held to account to mirror the First Amendment while providing transparency and an equal footing for conservatives. If you have been censored, contact us at the Media Research Center contact form, and help us hold Big Tech accountable.