Elon Musk, world’s richest person and ostensible champion of free speech, took to Twitter late Tuesday to stoop to a fresh low. Responding to tweet complaining about being called “cis” — the shorthand version of the word “cisgender,” which simply means “not transgender” — Musk declared that from here on out both terms are now considered slurs on the social network.
The Twitter owner’s disdain for transgender people is no secret. His displeasure at conservative satire account The Babylon Bee getting suspended for misgendering U.S. health official Rachel Levine is part of what animated him to throw down $44 billion for the social network to begin with. Since then, he’s predictably dismantled what rules were once in place on Twitter to protect transgender people.
Musk’s latest transphobic foray comes in the middle of a Pride Month in which LGBTQ Americans are feeling particularly embattled, in light of a rash of potentially deadly anti-LGBTQ legislation and emboldened conservative discourse that promotes open discrimination against the queer community.
In April, Twitter quietly erased a portion of its hateful content policy that forbid users from deadnaming and misgendering transgender people — a move many people in the LGBTQ community anticipated given Musk’s specific animus toward trans people.
Musk’s most recent declaration takes his transphobic position to its illogical conclusion, declaring reverse discrimination when transgender people use a commonplace, neutral word to discuss people who are not like them.
The result predictably limits speech on the social network — but only the speech of Musk’s perceived ideological enemies, who are under a very real threat of harm across state legislatures, healthcare settings and public life in a way that their cisgender counterparts can’t begin to relate to.