Online Anti-LGBTQ Hate Terms Defined: “Transgenderism”
The example below includes a hateful term, phrases and imagery.
“Transgenderism”The current usage of “transgenderism” as a term arises from anti-trans extremists and is crafted to delegitimize and dehumanize trans people by implying that being trans is an ideology rather than an identity. In her March 2023 essay, “On the Right’s Call to “Eradicate Transgenderism” (It Means Exactly What You Think It Means)” Parker Molloy explains: “A reminder that words like ‘transgenderism’ and ‘gender ideology’ are almost exclusively used by anti-trans activists to obscure the fact that trans people are simply people who just happen to be trans. It’s not a belief system.” While the anti-trans usage of the term has been in place for some years it was notably weaponized in a vicious March 2023 speech by right-wing extremist Michael Knowles at CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference, in which Knowles made the inflammatory pronouncement that “transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely.” Knowles posted versions of the speech on YouTube, as well as variations of the same rhetoric on his other social media accounts, while disingenuously asserting that his genocidal phrasing was not genocidal. From a social media strategy standpoint, the trope (along with other variations of the concept such as “gender ideology”) has served Knowles and other far-right media figures to disingenuously evade the hate speech and harassment policies of the platforms — which prohibit speech targeting people with hate on the basis of protected characteristics, such as gender identity, (while speech targeting ideologies is allowed). Anti-trans figures and groups continue to utilize the term online and offline as a dog whistle expressing contempt and hatred of transgender people. 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.