Understanding Targeted Misgendering and Deadnaming as Hate Speech

Leanna Garfield is the Manager of the Social Media Safety program at GLAAD and Jenni Olson is the Senior Director. LGBTQ Pride Month is an appropriate time to reflect on the topic of targeted misgendering and deadnaming online — especially in light of the dramatic departure last week of Twitter’s head of trust & safety, after Elon Musk overruled his staff’s decision to limit the reach of a notorious anti-trans video by far-right extremist and Daily Wire pundit Matt Walsh (the video was specifically flagged for targeted misgendering).   Alongside inflammatory mischaracterizations of transgender healthcare and baseless assertions of trans and LGBTQ people being threats to children, the practice of targeted misgendering and deadnaming has emerged in recent years as one of the most common modalities for expressing contempt toward trans and nonbinary people across social media platforms.  The trope is extremely popular amongst high-follower anti-LGBTQ accounts and is especially utilized to bully, mock, and harass prominent trans public figures (Admiral Rachel Levine, Dylan Mulvaney, 16-year-old Zaya Wade to name a few), while simultaneously expressing hatred of trans and nonbinary people in general.*  As is true with other hate-driven tropes, the far-right pundits, politicians, and accounts who engage in the practice tend to disingenuously feign that such expression is not hate speech, even as their animus is unmistakable, both from the posts themselves and from their clearly stated positions on the basic rights and dignity of trans and LGBTQ people. To be very clear — this isn’t about accidentally getting someone’s…Understanding Targeted Misgendering and Deadnaming as Hate Speech