Twitter owner Elon Musk seemingly made a sweeping policy decision Tuesday by declaring that “cisgender” and its abbreviation “cis” are considered slurs on Twitter.
The controversy started when users mocked anti-transgender activist James Esses for not wanting to be called cisgender.
He claimed in the tweet that he received messages calling him a “cissy” and telling him he is cis “whether he likes it or not.”
The term cisgender is common in LGBTQ0centered discussions, and is used to refer to someone whose gender corresponds with their biological sex — or someone who is not transgender.
Mr. Musk replied to Mr. Esses’s tweet with outrage at what he called harassment.
“Repeated, targeted harassment against any account will cause the harassing accounts to receive, at minimum, temporary suspensions,” he tweeted. “The words ‘cis’ or ‘cisgender’ are considered slurs on this platform.”
After users called Mr. Musk a hypocrite for wanting to curb free speech, Mr. Esses clarified that Mr. Musk meant that people would only be suspended for targeted harassment. Mr. Musk confirmed this by replying “Yes.”
Before Mr. Musk bought the social media platform, Twitter considered intentionally misgendering users or “deadnaming” a user — the practice of referring to a transgendered person by their given name rather than their preferred name — to be harassment. Under Mr. Musk, that policy has been removed.
The episode is the latest indication that Twitter under Mr. Musk is attempting to repair relationships with conservative commentators.
Many popular voices on the right have had their tweets boosted and prominently displayed on the feeds of users who do not follow them since the change in ownership.
This is in part due to Mr. Musk’s own fascination with the conservative movement as he has become more openly political.
When Tucker Carlson parted company with Fox News recently, he and Mr. Musk quickly announced the right-wing talker would produce a new show on Twitter exclusively.