Twitter Fail

Why Did Elon Musk Tweet That ‘Cis’ Is a Slur?

In case you missed it, calling someone “cis” on Twitter is a slur and CEO Elon Musk is ready to suspend you if you tweet it. 

On Monday, writer, podcaster, and former therapist trainee James Esses tweeted about alleged messages he received from trans activists calling him “cis”. Why did he receive an onslaught of messages confirming his cisgender identity? Because he tweeted about rejecting the word “cis”. The word describes a person whose gender identity corresponds with the sex they were assigned at birth, something that Esses is. 

But what can you expect from someone who was expelled from their graduate degree program for their anti-trans rhetoric? So his response was to ask for folks to imagine if the roles were reversed, implying what if transgender folks were being berated online for being who they are. 

“Yesterday, after posting a Tweet saying that I reject the word ‘cis’ and don’t wish to be called it, I receive a slew of messages from trans activists calling me ‘cissy’ and telling me that I am ‘cis’ ‘whether or not I like it’. Just imagine if the roles were reversed.”

It’s almost like it’s hard for trans folks to imagine if the roles were reversed, right? Well, on Tuesday, Twitter CEO felt the need to weigh on Esses’ tweet and fixed his fingers to tweet about a new hill to die on: declaring the word “cis” a slur on Twitter. 

“Repeated, targeted harassment against any account will cause the harassing accounts to receive, at minimum, temporary suspensions,” Musk tweeted out. “The words ‘cis’ or ‘cisgender’ are considered slurs on this platform.”

Well, it seems like cis folks are a protected class on Twitter, but the LGBTQ+ community still has to deal with being deadnamed and misgendered due to the platform’s lack of policy protection. Musk’s latest move adds to more of the nonsensical policies that he seems to be rolling out on the social media platform. His latest declaration piles on to the ongoing anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment spreading throughout Twitter, with several incidents coming from him. 

In 2020, he mocked pronouns on Twitter with a tweet that read, “I absolutely support trans, but all these pronouns are an esthetic nightmare.” Last year, Musk tweeted about his unfounded theory that 4-year-old children were receiving HRT, something he would know if he was involved in his trans child’s life. During this year’s Pride month he also promoted a transphobic video called What Is a Woman on his personal Twitter account, followed by a series of transphobic tweets. Additionally, among the many transphobic things he tweeted about, he also promoted a tweet that compared gender-affirming care to “mutilation”. 

Unfortunately, it’s only downhill from here. There has been a significant rise in anti-LGBTQ+ hate speech since he took over Twitter. GLAAD’s 2023 Social Media Safety Index (SMSI) found that Twitter was the most dangerous platform for LGBTQ+ people to use. It also was the only platform to not improve on its SMSI from 2022. Twitter’s low score is attributed to its lack of policy protecting LGBTQ+ individuals from deadnaming and misgendering, lack of transparency in diversifying its workforce, and lack of user control over the platform’s collection of sexual orientation and gender identity information. 

With Musk at the helm of Twitter, absurd policies like making “cis” and “cisgender” slurs on Twitter, supersede creating a safe space for the LGBTQ+ community, especially for trans and nonbinary folks. As long as he stays in charge, it seems that Twitter will continue to be a platform that erroneously promotes hate and cisgender people being a marginalized group. 

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