Hand holding phone with instagram app(l), Trans flag(r)

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Instagram suspended Trans March organizer’s accounts over casting call—citing ‘human exploitation’

The account for San Francisco Trans March was also suspended.

 

Tricia Crimmins

Tech

Update 11:20am CT, July 11: As of July 8, both Storment’s personal and the Trans March’s Instagram accounts were restored. The original story appears below.

Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, suspended San Francisco Trans March organizer and creative producer Niko Storment’s Instagram account for “human exploitation” over the weekend. Storment’s Instagram account focuses on connecting trans and queer artists with job opportunities in the art and creative world.

Meta defines “human exploitation” as sex trafficking, selling forced labor, forced criminal activity, and the recruitment of child soldiers, among other things—all of which Storment categorically denies he has ever engaged in.

Storment is the executive director of Rosen Creative House, a trans-owned creative agency that represents queer and trans people. He told the Daily Dot he has hired trans people via Instagram—”but not for human trafficking”—and said that Meta’s suspension of his account is “really appalling and disgusting.”

“I’m not a human trafficker,” Storment told the Daily Dot. “The only thing that I could think of that would be seen like that is the fact that we hire pretty much all queer and trans people.”

Screenshots shared with the Daily Dot by Storment, show the producer has posted casting calls for trans and queer models and performers. One was about an opportunity for queer, Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) models.

“Looking for 6 models that identify with both AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) and LGBTQ+ identities,” Storment wrote in his Instagram story. “Compensation: $50 Visa Gift Card.”

In Body Image
Niko Storment/Instagram

Another call was for a music video shoot for trans singer and performer Carter Ray. 

“We’re shooting a music video at sunset centering transmasculine individuals. We’ll hang out, party by the bonfire, and connect with each other,” Storment’s casting call said. “Bring two looks, one for daytime at the beach, and one for the nighttime bonfire.”  

The video’s final product is as Storment described in his casting call.

“This conflation [of sex work] and regulation around trans people working … is honestly really appalling and disgusting,” Storment told the Daily Dot.

Storment also runs the Instagram account for the San Francisco Trans March, which was also suspended as a result of his personal account being penalized.

The march took place on June 28 and was attended by over 10,000 people. The annual San Francisco Trans March is one of the largest trans events in the world and the Instagram account had over 5,000 followers.

Storment and the Trans March accounts were suspended the day after. In an email to Storment, Meta noted that all accounts associated with his personal account were shut down.

In Body Image
Niko Storment/Instagram

Storment also said that he believes Meta engages in algorithmic content policing that was “set up to silence queer and trans people.”

In 2021, @Autogyniphiles_Anonymous, a trans-led meme account with 26,000 followers at the time, was censored by Instagram after being mass-reported. And last year, Mashable reported that Instagram shadow-banned LGBTQ accounts, resulting in their content not appearing on their followers’ feeds.

Combating the misconception that the only work trans people do is sex work is something Storment and his peers have had to deal with before.

“The first time I ever tried to get event insurance and I spent about an hour on the phone with the guy and he essentially heard what we did and denied us for insurance because he thought I was basically a pimp,” Storment told the Daily Dot, “based solely on the fact we work with dancers, trans women, and burlesque performers.”

When Storment appealed Meta’s decision, he said the company doubled down and again accused his account of using Instagram to engage in human trafficking.

Storment said he spoke with a Meta employee who told him that it’s “highly likely” that the suspensions were the result of “mass reporting” and Storment said his case has been passed around to multiple different Meta customer service workers.

The Daily Dot could not independently confirm the Meta employee’s account.

Storment also theorized that his account being suspended was a result of the San Francisco Trans March posting in support of Palestine.

Since Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel, Meta has censored pro-Palestinian accounts and voices on its platforms.

In the post, @transmarch said Palestinian liberation and queer liberation are linked and called for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza.

“I think my account was on high alert/flagged because of Palestine posts on [@TransMarch],” Storment said. “And [Meta was] looking for a reason to be able to take it down completely.”

The Daily Dot has not been able to verify the claim about mass reporting. Meta did not immediately respond to the Daily Dot’s request for comment.


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