Musk Revisits X’s Misgendering Policy Amid Controversy

Last week, Elon Musk found himself at the center of a heated debate surrounding his social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter. The issue centers on the platform’s policy on misgendering and “deadnaming.” The public perception of the company’s shift in “woke” ideology caused a rapid backlash from multiple users, including some high-profile accounts.

A recent report by The Hill highlighted a “quiet update” on X’s website that seemed to revert to pre-Musk standards, aimed at reducing the visibility of posts that misuse pronouns or former names of transgender individuals as part of their transition.

Major podcaster Tim Pool got Musk’s attention when he threatened to pull all advertising from X, following what he perceived as a reinstatement of a policy against the “targeted misgendering or deadnaming of transgender individuals.” Pool canceled a $25,000 ad campaign and hinted at withdrawing an additional $200,000 planned for March.

In a series of responses, Musk appeared to initially defend the policy by attributing its enforcement to a court judgment in Brazil, emphasizing that it “should not apply outside of Brazil.” His reply appeared to satisfy Pool, who later acknowledged Musk’s efforts to “do the right thing or try your best.”

However, the controversy didn’t end there. The owner of the popular LibsOfTikTok account, Chaya Raichik, put the policy to the test with provocative posts challenging the platform’s stance on gender identity. Musk’s reply to Raichik suggested that the policy was more about preventing “repeated, targeted harassment” rather than policing specific words or phrases.

Other critics, including conservative commentators Auron MacIntyre and Christopher Rufo, have blasted Musk’s perceived capitulation to what they describe as “wokeness.” They argue that the policy on misgendering and deadnaming reflects a broader cultural malaise and infringes on free speech, a point echoed by other commentators who believe that truth should not be considered harassment.

Musk’s acquisition of the platform was initially seen as a victory against censorship, particularly following the suspension of accounts like the Babylon Bee, which faced action for misgendering public figures. Musk’s past actions suggested a crusade against what he termed the “woke mind virus.” Yet, the recent policy updates and Musk’s responses to the backlash point how difficult it actually is to manage a major social media platform in a way that protects free speech and disallows illegal activities.