X reconsiders its misgendering policy following criticism from conservative groups

X has, once again, quietly changed its rules around deadnaming and misgendering without an explanation. With the latest change, it seems that there will be no penalties for misgendering or deadnaming people on X after all, except in cases when it may be “required by local laws.”

The update, which was first spotted by Mashable, comes after X appeared to reinstate some aspects of Twitter’s former policy, which fell under its hateful conduct rules. Prior to Elon Musk’s takeover, Twitter had barred targeted deadnaming and misgendering. That section of the company’s rules then disappeared last April. Then, last week, ArsTechnica noted that the policy was quietly updated to indicate that X would “reduce the visibility of posts that purposefully use different pronouns to address someone other than what that person uses for themselves, or that use a previous name that someone no longer goes by as part of their transition.”

While it wasn’t a full reversal of the earlier policy — under the company’s previous leadership, intentional misgendering was grounds for a suspension — it seemed that there once again would be penalties for this type of harassment. Now, that section of Twitter’s rules is prefaced with “where required by local laws.”

As with so much of what happens at X, there is significant confusion about the policy as the company’s rules seem to change based on the whims of Musk rather than a considered process. This was on display over the last few days as Musk fielded several complaints from right-wing personalities about last week’s change. On Thursday, Musk told one such account that the update “is just about repeated, targeted harassment of a particular person.” But by Saturday, Musk was offering a new explanation. “Turns out this was due to a court judgment in Brazil, which is being appealed, but should not apply outside of Brazil,” he said.

X didn’t respond to a request for comment about the policy or why it was changed twice in a matter of days. But Musk is known to be sympathetic to people who regularly engage in anti-trans harassment. One of his first moves after taking over the company was to reinstate a number of accounts banned for violating the company’s previous hateful conduct policy. He has also repeatedly mocked people who specify their pronouns and publicly criticized X staff for attempting to apply the company’s “freedom of speech, not reach” policy to a transphobic documentary.

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