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    Online Anti-LGBTQ Hate Terms Defined: “Transgenderism”

    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.


    Screenshot, Facebook
    Screenshot, Facebook

    The current usage of “transgenderism” arises from anti-trans extremists who seek to delegitimize and dehumanize trans people by implying that being trans is an ideology rather than an identity. (See here for a longer history of the term’s usage.)

    The ADL notes: “By using the term ‘transgenderism’ instead of ‘trans people,’ anti-trans activists call for online and offline marginalization of and/or harm to transgender individuals under the guise of opposing an ideology.” In her March 2023 essay, “On the Right’s Call to “Eradicate Transgenderism” (It Means Exactly What You Think It Means)” Parker Molloy further 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.” 

    The term “transgenderism” was notably weaponized in a vicious March 2023 speech by right-wing extremist Michael Knowles at CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference, where Knowles pronounced that “For the good of society … 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 call was not genocidal.

    On social media, Knowles and other far-right media figures employ the term (along with other variations of the trope such as “gender ideology”) to disingenuously evade platforms’ hate speech and harassment policies — 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 promote 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.

    stay tuned!