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Elon Musk's X, formerly Twitter, restricts accounts that use the term ‘cisgender’

Twitter X Blocks Users Over Cisgender Word Use
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It’s the latest attack on transgender people by Elon Musk’s company.

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Elon Musk’s social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, has begun restricting accounts for using the terms “cis” and “cisgender,” labeling them as slurs. According to the Independent, users attempting to post these terms now receive warnings stating that they may be considered slurs and could be used in violation of X’s rules.

“Cisgender” is an adjective used to refer to individuals whose gender identity corresponds with their sex assigned at birth. The term “cis” comes from the Latin prefix meaning “on this side of,” contrasting with “trans,” which means “across from” or “on the other side of.” These terms are widely accepted in social and medical contexts. The Canadian government uses these classifications in its census, and the American Psychological Association includes them in its glossary.

Despite the widespread acceptance of these terms, Musk declared last October that they would be treated as slurs on the platform. Enforcement of this policy began recently, with users reporting restricted visibility and warnings when attempting to post using the terms. According to TechCrunch, users who write “cis” or “cisgender” on the X mobile app receive a full-screen message stating, “This post contains language that may be considered a slur by X and could be used in a harmful manner in violation of our rules.” Users can choose to continue publishing the post or delete it.

This policy enforcement has sparked significant backlash. A spokesperson for GLAAD told TechCrunch, “Elon Musk has been engaging in this disingenuous and inherently bigoted effort to redefine this term for nearly a year. This would appear to be another of Musk’s endless exercises in catering to his new right-wing extremist user base of X — one more coded, but very clear, signal from the company that transgender people are not welcome on the platform, and another strong indicator to advertisers that X is not a safe platform for their brands.”

X received a record-low score of 33 percent in GLAAD’s 2023 Social Media Safety Index report, primarily due to Musk’s rollback of policy protections for LGBTQ+ people, especially transgender individuals.

Some of Musk’s supporters disagreed with his stance on the terms. One user wrote, “I was interested in this post and looked up the term. It does not read as a slur by definition. I can’t believe I am disagreeing with @elonmusk.”

The new enforcement moves highlight the ongoing tensions and challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community on social media platforms, particularly those involving transgender rights and recognition.

The Advocate has contacted X to comment, but the company has not responded.

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Christopher Wiggins

Christopher Wiggins is a senior national reporter for The Advocate. He has a rich career in storytelling and highlighting underrepresented voices. Growing up in a bilingual household in Germany, his German mother and U.S. Army father exposed him to diverse cultures early on, influencing his appreciation for varied perspectives and communication. His work in Washington, D.C., primarily covers the nexus of public policy, politics, law, and LGBTQ+ issues. Wiggins' reporting focuses on revealing lesser-known stories within the LGBTQ+ community. Key moments in his career include traveling with Vice President Kamala Harris and interviewing her in the West Wing about LGBTQ+ support.

Christopher Wiggins is a senior national reporter for The Advocate. He has a rich career in storytelling and highlighting underrepresented voices. Growing up in a bilingual household in Germany, his German mother and U.S. Army father exposed him to diverse cultures early on, influencing his appreciation for varied perspectives and communication. His work in Washington, D.C., primarily covers the nexus of public policy, politics, law, and LGBTQ+ issues. Wiggins' reporting focuses on revealing lesser-known stories within the LGBTQ+ community. Key moments in his career include traveling with Vice President Kamala Harris and interviewing her in the West Wing about LGBTQ+ support.