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Twitter issued a non-apology over transphobia on its platform, and trans people aren’t having it

bm.iphone/Flickr Dlloyd (CC-BY) Ana Valens

Transphobia on Twitter is a matter of ‘when,’ not ‘if.’

It’s no secret that Twitter has been filled with transphobic users and rhetoric for years, and yet the social media platform has refused to acknowledge the problem.

That’s why it was a bit of an eye-roll on Thursday, when Twitter published a half-hearted apology encouraging users to report transphobic abuse on the site. In response, trans users and their allies are pointing out all the terrible things Twitter does to trans people.

Nearly two weeks after it was reported by the New York Times that the Trump administration is proposing to define gender as one’s assigned sex at birth, Twitter’s official LGBTQ group TwitterOpen condemned this proposal. In a statement on Twitter, TwitterOpen stressed that the site “recognizes that trans people exist and welcomes them to the flock.” It also went on to say that trans peoples’ experiences and identities “are valid and vital to our world,” and that Twitter “stands with trans people, not because we are radical, but because we are human.”

First off, Twitter spoke out a little too late. But Twitter is also ignoring the fact that being trans is a pretty radical political existence. The right-wing actively targets trans people by attacking trans children, refusing service to trans people, and attempting to strip away basic rights like using the bathroom. Like it or not, simply being trans has become a politicized existence, which means standing for trans people is just as much of one.

While ideally, trans peoples’ existence shouldn’t be politicized, Twitter is trying to simultaneously come out for trans people while distancing itself from the political circumstances trans people experiences, and it can’t have it both ways. Condemning discrimination is not neutral.

But that’s not all. TwitterOpen didn’t even acknowledge that transphobia is an inherent problem on its platform. Instead of promising real change, TwitterOpen simply invited trans people and their allies to report abuse “if you have experienced” it.

“If you have experienced or seen the harassment of trans people on our platform, we apologize deeply,” the statement reads. “We are constantly improving our safety tools and your reports are our greatest tool in that process.”

It’s an apology that reads more like something a waiter would tell you when your meal is 30 minutes late, not a sincere promise to do better over an ongoing and well-documented problem with sexual harassment on social media. From the start, trans people and their allies were far from happy.

Instead of improving the site by actively culling transphobic users, Twitter is putting the onus on trans people and trans allies to police the site and report harassment. Which is lazy and doesn’t curb the initial problem.

https://twitter.com/AccioBooks/status/1058283154765742081

Other Twitter users pointed out the site’s terrible report feature. More often than not, Twitter outright bans trans people and their allies who strongly criticize TERFs (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists) instead of protecting its trans users. Meanwhile, transphobes get a free pass for their endless dog whistles against trans people.

Twitter has a lot of work to do, and it doesn’t want to admit it.

https://twitter.com/earthlycmfrt/status/1058116879594741760

Others just want the TERFs and Nazis off the site, which Twitter has refused to do for years now.

This isn’t the first time Twitter users have universally condemned the social media platform publicly. Two weeks ago, Twitter received the roasting of a lifetime after its official account told users to “be sweet when you tweet.” Across the site, users were quick to point out that Twitter lets a cornucopia of bigots tweet things that are not so sweet by simply allowing them on the platform.

“So does this mean you’re going to get rid of the Nazis and TERFs then?” one Twitter user asked. Evidently, no.

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The Daily Dot reached out to Twitter for comment but has not received a response.

Ana Valens

Ana Valens

Ana Valens is an LGBTQ reporter and essayist for the Daily Dot. Her work has previously appeared in Bitch, the Establishment, Vice's Waypoint, Rolling Stone's Glixel, and the Toast. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.