Online Anti-LGBTQ Hate Terms Defined: “Gender Ideology”
This entry is part of the GLAAD Guide to Anti-LGBTQ Online Hate and Disinformation, an ongoing project to identify some of the most prevalent and egregious terms, tropes, and concepts that are used to harass, attack, and spread malicious misinformation about LGBTQ people on social media. Learn more here.
The example below includes a hateful term, phrases and imagery.
Employed by prominent anti-LGBTQ accounts and similar to the trope “transgenderism,” “gender ideology” falsely asserts that LGBTQ — notably trans — people are an ideological movement rather than an intrinsic identity.
As the ADL notes, “proponents of the phrase often use it to oppose school curricula that feature and/or celebrate LGBTQ+ history or experiences, falsely claiming that such materials promote the sexualization of minors and/or coerce children into identifying as members of the LGBTQ+ community.” The Southern Poverty Law Center adds: “Anti-LGBTQ+ groups often employ the term to claim any kind of positive affirmation of trans young people is a nefarious method of creating or recruiting new trans kids.” On Twitter/X, for example, far-right outlet The Daily Wire widely promoted a speech by anti-trans commentator Matt Walsh, who said in April 2023, “I truly see the fight against gender ideology as the last stand for Western civilization.” Other extremist accounts have used the phrase as a dog whistle to spread animus against trans people. That same month, Gays Against Groomers posted across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter/X: “Gender ideology must be completely abolished and destroyed.”
According to some studies researching the origin of the phrase, “gender ideology” as an anti-LGBTQ trope can be traced back to publications in the 1990s by Catholic conservative groups in the U.S. In recent years, anti-LGBTQ commentators and politicians have employed the term — on social platforms, in mass media, and in legal contexts — to promote and rationalize their dehumanization of trans people and opposition to LGBTQ rights. Explore more via GLAAD’s Guide to Anti-LGBTQ Online Hate and Disinformation.
This is just one example of anti-LGBTQ online hate and disinformation. Every term and concept should be evaluated in context. For instance, LGBTQ people and allies may use hashtags with hate terms as counterspeech, or slurs such as “tranny” or “dyke” may be used self-referentially to reclaim them. This guide will be updated on an ongoing basis. Please see the latest GLAAD Social Media Safety Index report for a deeper exploration of the current social media landscape for LGBTQ people, including GLAAD’s recommendations and thought leadership in the field.
How to Report Anti-LGBTQ Online Hate Speech and Harassment
Every major social media platform has policies which prohibit hate and harassment on the basis of protected characteristics, including sexual orientation and gender identity. To learn how to report potentially violative content, check out GLAAD’s LGBTQ Digital Safety Guide, which includes basic tips on helping our community be more safe online.
A Note of Acknowledgement
GLAAD is grateful to the many organizations and individuals doing this important work. We especially want to acknowledge the team at Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center and the ADL’s Hate On Display™: Hate Symbols Database, which has served as a model for this project.
About the GLAAD Social Media Safety Program
As the leading national LGBTQ media advocacy organization GLAAD is working every day to hold tech companies and social media platforms accountable, and to secure safe online spaces for LGBTQ people. GLAAD’s Social Media Safety program actively researches, monitors and reports on a variety of issues facing LGBTQ social media users — with a focus on safety, privacy and expression — advocating for solutions in numerous realms: online hate and harassment, AI bias, polarizing algorithms, data privacy, and more. The annual Social Media Safety Index (SMSI) provides recommendations for the industry at large and reports on LGBTQ user safety across the five major social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok. Learn more by reading the annual GLAAD Social Media Safety Index & Platform Scorecard.