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Fears that LGBTQ+ rights at heightened risk stoked after SCOTUS leak

A question also remains about what the draft opinion means for decisions on LGBTQ rights that have yet to come before the Supreme Court



Protestors at the Supreme Court May 3, 2022 (Blade photo by Michael Key)

WASHINGTON – Fears that same-sex marriage and other LGBTQ rights could be on the chopping block are at a new high after a leaked draft opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court that would explicitly overturn precedent in Roe v Wade, although the degree of perceived danger differs among legal observers.

Although language in the leaked draft by U.S. Associate Justice Samuel Alito, which was published late Monday by Politico and confirmed as “authentic” by the Supreme Court, specifically distances the potential ruling from Obergefell v. Hodges, the general reasoning against finding unenumerated rights in the U.S. Constitution could apply to challenges to the landmark 2015 marriage decision.

Karen Loewy, senior counsel for the LGBTQ group Lambda Legal, told the Washington Blade if the draft decision were to become final it would “have no good implications” for either the Obergefell or Lawrence decisions.

“The analysis that Justice Alito has laid out really calls into question the sort of underlying liberty and dignity jurisprudence that really was the underpinning of cases like Lawrence and Obergefell,” Loewy said. “It requires a really cramped vision of what is constitutionally protected, that is tied to histories of oppression that are really, really concerning.”

Alito obliterates long-standing precedent, as defined in the 1973 Roe. v. Wade decision and subsequently affirmed in the 1992 decision in the Planned Parenthood v. Casey, finding a woman’s right to have an abortion is protected under the 14th Amendment.

“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” Alito writes. “The Constitution makes no references to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision, including the one on which the defenders of Roe and Casey now chiefly rely — the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment.”

Alito makes clear for the Supreme Court to find any unenumerated rights under the 14th Amendment, the right must be “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition” and “implicit in the concept of ordered liberty.”

Such an analysis would directly impact LGBTQ rights found under the 14th Amendment. In fact, three separate times over the course of the draft opinion, Alito compares the right to abortion to rights for LGBTQ people as defined by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Those references, however, aren’t to threaten those decisions, but to bolster the case for overturning precedent as established by Roe and limit the impact of the draft opinion.

“Roe’s defenders characterize the abortion right as similar to the rights recognized in past decisions involving matters such as intimate sexual relations, contraception, and marriage,” Alito writes, “but abortion is fundamentally different, as both Roe and Casey acknowledged, because it destroys what those decisions called ‘fetal life’ and what the law now before us describes as an ‘un-born human being.’”

In another instance, Alito includes Obergefell and Lawrence among a multitude of cases in a multi-page footnote giving examples of where the Supreme Court has decided to overturn precedent, which the draft opinion would do for Roe v. Wade. Another time, Alito rejects arguments from the U.S. solicitor general that abortion and marriage are connected, asserting “our decision concerns the constitutional right to abortion and no other right.”

Loewy, however, said the fundamental nature of the draft opinion, despite Alito’s rejection that abortion is comparable to LGBTQ rights, undermines that analysis no matter how many times he articulates it.

“The third time is where he offers a fig leaf saying, ‘This analysis is just about abortion rights. It’s not about anything else,’ and so suggests that it would leave untouched a case like Obergefell, when the analysis that he has offered in this opinion clearly leads to the opposite result,” Loewy said.

Indeed, the sweeping nature of Alito’s reasoning against finding unenumerated rights under the Constitution has led some observers to believe the draft was written by Alito alone and without the input of the other eight justices, which could mean the final decision would be a consensus different from the opinion that was leaked. (Upon publishing the leaked opinion, however, Politico did report the Supreme Court has five justices who will vote in favor of overturning Roe, which means without question such a ruling has a majority.)

Not all observers see the opinion in the same way and are interpreting Alito’s references to Obergefell and Lawrence as less threatening.

Dale Carpenter, a conservative law professor at Southern Methodist University who’s written about LGBTQ rights, downplayed the idea the draft opinion against Roe would be a prelude to overturning Obergefell based on Alito’s words denying the connection.

“The opinion tries to make it clear that it does not affect other unenumerated rights, like Lawrence and Obergefell and other fundamental rights cases, like contraceptive cases and other marriage cases,” Carpenter said. “So that’s comforting, I think, to LGBT rights advocates. Second, it says that there’s a fundamental distinction between those other cases and the abortion cases in that the abortion cases involve fetal life or potential life. And so, that I think, is a ground for setting a difference between them.”

Carpenter, however, conceded the mode of analysis in the opinion overturning Roe “is not very friendly to unenumerated rights like marriage and sexual intimacy,” so while Obergefell and Lawrence may face no immediate threat “there might be a longer term concern about decisions like those.”

A follow-up ruling from the Supreme Court rolling back the right for same-sex couples to marry would be consistent with a 2020 dissent from Alito and U.S. Associate Justice Clarence Thomas essentially declaring war on the Obergefell decision, urging justices to revisit the case to make greater accommodations for religious objections.

Jim Obergefell, the lead plaintiff in the marriage equality case and now a candidate for a seat in the Ohio state legislature, said in a statement after the leak of the draft Alito opinion he was fearful that the same forces seeking to overturn precedent for abortion rights would go after LGBTQ rights next.

“It’s also concerning that some members of the extreme court are eager to turn their attention to overturning marriage equality,” Obergefell said. “The sad part is in both these cases, five or six people will determine the law of the land and go against the vast majority of Ohioans and Americans who overwhelmingly support a woman’s right to make her own health decisions and a couple’s right to be married.”

The Supreme Court, of course, couldn’t willy nilly reverse the Obergefell decision, which would require some case or controversy to wind its way through the judicial system before justices could revisit the ruling. Mostly likely, such a hypothetical case would be a state passing a law banning same-sex marriage or simply declaring it would no longer allow same-sex couples to wed in defiance of the Obergefell decision.

No state, however, is engaged in a serious effort to challenge marriage rights for same-sex couples. The last such challenge was in 2020 and from the solicitor general of Indiana, who was seeking to challenge the decision on the basis of birth certificates for the children of women in same-sex marriages. Even the current 6-3 conservative majority on the court declined to hear the case.

Additionally, as polls demonstrate, the nation is in a different place with abortion rights compared to the right for same-sex couples to marry. A recent Fox News poll found six in 10 registered voters still think the U.S. Supreme Court should uphold Roe v. Wade, but more than half of those responders favored banning abortions after 15 weeks. Comparatively, a Gallup poll in September 2021 found support for marriage equality is at a record high of 70 percent and, for the first time, a majority of Republicans back same-sex marriage.

A question also remains about what the draft opinion means for decisions on LGBTQ rights that have yet to come before the Supreme Court but may come at a later time, such as a legal challenge to the “Don’t Say Gay” measure recently signed into law by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Carpenter said he doesn’t think the observers can glean anything about a potential ruling on the “Don’t Say Gay” law based on the fact the legal challenge would be different than challenges to abortion or same-sex marriage.



New GLAAD report details Meta’s failure to stop anti-trans hate

GLAAD reported these posts but Meta either deemed to be not in violation of its policies or did not take action on



Entrance to Meta Headquarters Corporate campus in Menlo Park, California. (Los Angeles Blade file photo)

NEW YORK – GLAAD released a damning new report on Wednesday that showcases dozens of examples of extreme and disturbing anti-trans content targeting transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming people across all of parent company Meta’s social media platforms, Facebook, Instagram, and Threads.

GLAAD reported these posts but Meta either deemed to be not in violation of its policies or did not take action on. The posts, most by high-follower anti-LGBTQ hate accounts, target trans, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming people with slurs and false dehumanizing tropes (including describing trans people as “satanic,” “sexual predators,” “terrorists,” “mentally ill,” “perverts,” and “trannies”).

Other content features instances of violent speech; targeted harassment of individuals and violent incitement; targeted misgendering; content promoting so-called “conversion therapy;” and intentional coded, genocidal calls for “eradication.” All of these things are expressly prohibited in Meta’s Community Standards

The report is a follow up to a June 2023 LGBTQ Celebrities & Allies open letter facilitated by GLAAD and the Human Rights Campaign, which called on social media platforms, including Meta, to address the epidemic of anti-trans hate on its platforms — citing harmful lies about transgender healthcare, malicious anti-LGBTQ “groomer” narratives, and relentless bullying and harassment of trans public figures. The 250+ signatories of the letter, which received extensive national media coverage, included such high-profile names as Elliot Page, Laverne Cox, Jamie Lee Curtis, Shawn Mendes, Janelle Monáe, Gabrielle Union, Judd Apatow, Ariana Grande, and Jonathan Van Ness.

“GLAAD, HRC, and 250+ LGBTQ celebrities and allies urged Meta nine months ago to create and share a plan to address the epidemic of anti-trans hate on their platforms,” said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “The company’s ongoing failure to enforce its own policies against anti-LGBTQ, and especially anti-trans hate is simply unacceptable. The ongoing inaction and silence is an active choice, showing that Meta is not living up to its company values and most importantly, is not protecting its trans and gender nonconforming users.”

Screenshot of Instagram post that calls trans people “devils” and depicts mob violence against them (March 30, 2023)

Disturbing and Violent Posts Permitted 

Among the disturbing, and often violent, posts are memes depicting mob violence against trans people while referring to them as “devils;” right-wing media pundits saying trans people are “disgusting perverts;” posts selling services claiming to be able to change people’s sexual orientation and gender identity (“conversion therapy”); and targeted harassment of healthcare providers featuring their names and photos with the ominous prompt “What do you think should be done to doctors that perform ‘gender affirming care’ surgeries on minors?” 

Alongside the posts, the report also includes excerpts from the policies they appear to violate (including Meta’s hate speechviolence and incitementbullying and harassment, and suicide and self-injury policies). All posts were reported by GLAAD via Meta’s standard platform reporting systems from June 2023 – March 2024. Meta determined that none are in violation of its policies or did not take action on them. 

The report comes on the heels of the January 2024 Oversight Board ruling in the “Post in Polish Targeting Trans People” case (which involved an anti-trans Facebook post that Meta content moderators repeatedly determined was not in violation of its policies, despite multiple reports from users).

In its ruling, the Oversight Board (the body that makes non-binding but precedent-setting rulings about Meta content moderation cases) cited “Meta’s repeated failure to take the correct enforcement action” on the extreme anti-trans hate post, which clearly violated Meta’s own policies

Meta’s enforcement failures have prompted repeated rebukes and concern from the Oversight Board. As Axios and The Verge have documented, some users find that their reports on harmful content are not reviewed at all. 

GLAAD Reiterates Demands for Action

Calling for urgent action from Meta, the report notes that: “LGBTQ people and other targeted groups experience an increasing number of well-documented real-world harms stemming from these long-term anti-LGBTQ propaganda campaigns, driven by the anti-LGBTQ extremists that Meta allows to flourish on its platforms.

Meta itself acknowledges in its public statements and in its own policies that hate speech ‘creates an environment of intimidation and exclusion, and in some cases may promote offline violence.’ Such acknowledgements of its own culpability make Meta’s negligence and refusal to protect people from such hate (not only trans, nonbinary, and LGBTQ people — but countless other historically marginalized groups) all the more shocking.”

The report concludes by reiterating the demands of the June 2023 LGBTQ Celebrities & Allies open letter: Meta (and other platforms) must urgently create and share plans for addressing: Content that spreads malicious lies and disinformation about healthcare for transgender youth; accounts and postings that perpetuate anti-LGBTQ extremist hate and disinformation (including the anti-LGBTQ “groomer” trope), in violation of platform policies; dehumanizing, hateful attacks on prominent transgender public figures and influencers; and anti-transgender hate speech, including targeted misgendering, deadnaming, and hate-driven tropes.

As highlighted in GLAAD’s 2023 Social Media Safety Index (SMSI) report, Meta is largely failing to mitigate dangerous anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ hate and disinformation, despite such content violating their own policies. The SMSI also recommends to Meta and others that they must better train moderators on the needs of LGBTQ users, and enforce policies around anti-LGBTQ content across all languages, cultural contexts, and regions. The 2024 edition of the SMSI is forthcoming this summer.

Additional Background on the Oversight Board Case:

On March 15, 2024, in response to the Oversight Board ruling, Meta’s Transparency Center issued an update that the company is “assessing feasibility” of ensuring that “flag-based visual depictions of gender identity … are understood as representations of a group defined by the gender identity of its members.” Read GLAAD’s full statement here.

The post was an egregious example of anti-trans hate advocating for transgender people to commit suicide, featuring an image of a striped curtain in the blue, pink, and white colors of the transgender flag with a text overlay in Polish saying: ‘New technology. Curtains that hang themselves.’ The post was repeatedly flagged by users, but Meta’s content moderators allowed the post to remain. The post was only removed after the Oversight Board alerted Meta. The case illuminates systemic failures with the company’s moderation practices — including widespread failure to enforce their own policies, as noted by the Oversight Board and in GLAAD’s September 2023 public comment to the Oversight Board for the adjudication of the case. 

In 2023 GLAAD Social Media Safety Index All Major Social Media Platforms Fail on LGBTQ Safety

The third annual GLAAD Social Media Safety Index (SMSI) & Platform Scorecard was released in June 2023. After reviewing the platforms on 12 LGBTQ-specific indicators, all platforms received low and failing scores:

  • Instagram: 63%
  • Facebook: 61%
  • TikTok: 57%
  • YouTube: 54%
  • Twitter: 33%

Key findings of the 2023 SMSI included:

  • Anti-LGBTQ rhetoric on social media translates to real-world offline harms.
  • Social media platforms are largely failing to mitigate this dangerous hate and disinformation and inadequately enforce their own policies. 
  • There is a lack of true transparency reporting from the platforms.

The 2024 GLAAD Social Media Safety Index is forthcoming in Summer 2024.

Read the full report hereUnsafe: Meta Fails to Moderate Extreme Anti-trans Hate Across Facebook, Instagram, and Threads.

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NY Times: Trans voices in stories about anti-trans legislation left out

The Times continued to exclude perspectives of trans people from its stories about anti-trans legislation after criticism of its coverage



Los Angeles Blade graphic

WASHINGTON – One year after The New York Times faced public criticism for its handling of coverage of transgender people and dismissed two separate open letters as merely “protests organized by advocacy groups,” a new study from Media Matters for America and GLAAD found that the newspaper failed to quote a trans person in 66% of its stories about anti-trans legislation from February 15, 2023, through February 15, 2024.

“The paper of record has an obligation to present its readers with the full human toll of the anti-trans legislative assault,” said Ari Drennen, LGBTQ Program Director at Media Matters. “Trans people are more than theoretical curiosities to be debated from afar. Each and every anti-trans bill affects living, breathing people whose voices deserve to be heard and whose stories deserve to be told.” 

18% of Times articles quoted anti-trans misinformation without pushback

In February 2023, The New York Times received two separate open letters: one from a coalition of 150+ organizations and leaders, including GLAAD, and a separate letter signed by hundreds of Times contributors that criticized the outlet’s contributions to a deadly anti-LGBTQ culture war. 

This study reviewed coverage for a full year starting on February 15, 2023, when both letters were separately delivered, until February 15, 2024, The New York Times published at least 65 articles that mentioned U.S. anti-trans legislation in either their headline or lead paragraphs.

“The New York Times did not quote any transgender people in a majority of their articles about anti-trans legislation in the past year,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, President & CEO of GLAAD. “One of the first recommendations we make during the hundreds of LGBTQ education briefings we hold with national and local newsrooms is to include LGBTQ voices in LGBTQ stories: interview the people impacted by your coverage and include their perspectives. The New York Times failed that basic reporting lesson 101, and replaced it with a pattern of obfuscating sources’ anti-trans affiliations and allowing their misinformation to go unchecked. Our coalition of more than 150 organizations, community leaders, and notable LGBTQ people and allies remains steadfast in our calls for the Times to improve their coverage of transgender people.”


  • Two-thirds – 66% — of the articles did not quote even one trans or gender-nonconforming person. 
    • Only 1 of 19 articles covering anti-trans legislation from July through September quoted a single member of the community.
  • 18% of the articles included anti-trans misinformation in quotes without adequate fact-checking or additional context.
    • One example of this comes from The New York Times’ coverage of a Florida law banning gender-affirming care for minors that repeatedly quoted DeSantis spreading anti-trans misinformation. In one instance, the Times quoted the governor’s false claim that  “gender-affirming care” is a euphemism for “sex-change operations.” Two other articles quoted DeSantis’ claim that offering gender-affirming care to children amounts to “sexualizing” them.
  • 6 of the articles identified obscured the anti-trans background of sources, erasing histories of extremist rhetoric or actions.
    • One example of this comes from an April 12 story about a North Dakota law banning trans girls and women from participating in women’s sports. In the story, The New York Times quoted a member of North Dakota Can, an organization that has called LGBTQ pride “predatory” and has ranted about “child predator apologists” in “Big Education.” Despite the organization’s radical record, The New York Times merely identified it merely as a “conservative advocacy group.” 

With more than 470 bills targeting LGBTQ people having already been introduced by state legislatures around the country in 2024, The New York Times has a responsibility to not feed a moral panic that is being seeded by right-wing media about trans identity and instead should focus on improving its coverage by centering the voices of those being impacted by these harmful bills. 

Media Matters looked at how often the paper quoted openly trans or gender-nonconforming sources, instances in which articles cited anti-trans misinformation or talking points without context or adequate fact-checking, and whether the paper accurately represented the records of anti-trans figures mentioned in its stories.

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Anti-Trans Legislative Risk Assessment Map: March 2024 

Updates come to both the transgender youth and transgender adult maps as we prepare for the 2024 election cycle



Movement of anti-trans adult legislation in Idaho has led to an increase in its risk level towards adults. For transgender youth, Wyoming enters the “worst” category, Arizona improves, and a ballot initiative in Washington offers some level, though low, of risk.

By Erin Reed | WASHINGTON – I have tracked anti-transgender legislation for 5 years @erininthemorn on Twitter and TikTok. Every day, I’ve gotten messages from worried people wondering how they are supposed to assess their risk of staying in their home state.

The messages range from parents of trans youth wondering if their children will be taken from them to trans teachers wondering if their jobs will be safe in coming years. Sometimes people just want to know if there is a safer state they can move to nearby.

I created the legislative risk map specifically to help answer that question. Now more than ever, it is a question that needs answering for so many transgender people facing forced medical detransition, arrests for using the bathroom, bans on the use of our names, pronouns, and identification documents, and many other curtailments of our rights to exist in public life.

In previous iterations of the map, the focus was entirely on the risk to transgender youth. When the map was first developed, bills targeting transgender youth were far more common. Unfortunately over the last year, the transgender youth map has lost all granularity, largely reducing to just two colors: red and blue, a set of states criminalizing trans youth and a set of states protecting them. You can still find this map at the end of the document, and it will be continually updated. The primary map of focus, though, will be the transgender adult map, as bills targeting trans adults have become far more common.


The methodology used is primarily qualitative, with a scoring-rubric element for the worst bills. Part of the methodology is my own expert assessment of laws, of which I am well equipped to do. I have read all 550 bills that target trans people in America in 2023 and 500 so far in 2024. I have watched hundreds of hours of hearings on anti-trans legislation and am fully aware of all of the players nationally as well as where they are making their pushes against trans rights. I have followed the vote count and talk to activists on the ground in each state. I am looking at how similar states are moving in their legislative cycles. Lastly, I watch for statements by governors and bill drafts to see if the Republican party in various states seems to be pushing anti-trans legislation heavily – you can see many examples of such legislation in this newsletter.

In terms of actual laws, I keep a rubric of the various types of laws that target transgender people. For transgender youth, the most concerning laws are those that prohibit gender-affirming care and mandate detransition. Additionally, bathroom bans, laws that rigidly define sex as binary, and restrictions on social transition are other key factors that negatively impact a state’s ranking. For transgender adults, the primary legislative concerns include adult gender affirming care bans, bathroom bans, prohibitions on drag specifically aimed at trans people and pride events, restrictions on changing birth certificates and drivers licenses, and laws that end legal recognition for trans people entirely. These factors play a significant role in how I assess and rank a state’s legislative risk.

The Adult Trans Legislative Risk Assessment Map

This updated map delineates the legislative risks concerning laws aimed at transgender adults in the United States. States like Florida have eliminated 80% of all trans adult care, adults can be thrown in jail for using the bathroom of their gender identity, and trans people with correct gender markers on their drivers licenses can be charged with fraud. Multiple states have passed laws ending all legal recognition for trans people. As such, starting this year, adult risk levels for trans people will be tracked on its own map.

Moves in this update: Idaho (Medium Risk → High Risk)

  • Summary of updates: There was only one major move this month for transgender adults: Idaho has moved from a medium risk level to a high risk level after the state passed a ban on state facilities for gender affirming care at any age. The bill has not been signed by Governor Little as of the time of making this map.

Nationwide Risk: Moderate. Although recent spending bills failed to include anti-trans provisions, the 2024 election cycle remains a great danger to transgender people nationwide.

Here are the categories:

  • Do Not Travel (FL): The only state earning a “Do Not Travel” advisory is Florida. Florida has a law that allows for the arrest of transgender people for using bathrooms according to their gender identity and another policy targets transgender people’s drivers licenses. Florida has also put into effect a policy that says trans people “misrepresenting” their gender on their drivers license could be guilty of fraud. Local LGBTQ+ orgs as well as HRC have issued travel advisories for the state. This analysis likewise concurs with such a rating.
  • The Worst States (KS, MT, OK, ND, TN, UT): These states have passed deeply troubling legislation targeting transgender adults in extremely harmful new ways. Kansas and Utah have bathroom bans for transgender adults, while Tennessee briefly enacted a law requiring signage to warn of the presence of transgender individuals in restrooms. Many, including Kansas, Montana, Oklahoma, and Tennessee, have gone so far as to legislatively erase transgender people, effectively removing any legal rights associated with their gender identities. Other states, such as Kansas, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Tennessee, prohibit any changes to birth certificates, forcing trans people to out themselves when showing their documents. In Kansas, this law could even force individuals who have updated their driver’s licenses and birth certificates to see their gender markers reverted. These states also could start targeting adult gender affirming care – Florida has already done so, banning 80% of such care.
  • High-Risk States (AL, AR, ID, IA, IN, LA, MO, MS, NE, OH, SC, TX, WV): All of these states have passed some anti-trans adult laws, but they haven’t reached the same level of severity as the worst states. Missouri and West Virginia, for example, prohibit gender-affirming care for incarcerated adults as well as transgender youth and have seen new laws proposed this cycle going even further. Nebraska’s governor has issued an executive order ending legal recognition of trans people. Additionally, some of these states, including Alabama and Arkansas, have laws that permit the refusal of medical care to LGBTQ+ individuals on religious grounds. Iowa may soon require trans people to have special markers on their birth certificates identifying them as trans. Although each of these states has laws targeting transgender adults, none have done so to the extent of the worst states.
  • Moderate-Risk States (AK, GA, KY, NC, NH, SD, WY): These states have either passed one or two laws aimed at transgender adults or have enacted multiple laws targeting transgender youth, or are advancing negative laws quickly. For states focusing on trans youth, history shows they are more likely to introduce anti-trans legislation for adults in subsequent years. All of these states are under Republican control, either through supermajorities in the legislature or Republican governorships. Many have enacted “Don’t Say Gay” provisions, which frequently result in the banning of transgender teachers – in Georgia, for instance, a teacher was fired for merely reading a book with a character that could vaguely be interpreted as transgender. Additionally, many have passed religious refusal rights bills. However, most of these states have either not yet ventured into anti-trans adult legislation or have only passed milder forms of such laws.
  • Low-Risk States (AZ, DE, ME, MI, NV, PA, RI, VA, WI): These states have largely refrained from targeting transgender adults, although they haven’t taken extraordinary steps to protect adult transgender rights either. For example, Arizona and Virginia have enacted anti-trans policies affecting youth but, due to state-specific factors, appear unlikely to extend such policies to adults. Conversely, MichiganMaine, and Nevada have enacted fairly robust non-discrimination policies but fall short in ensuring healthcare equity and providing protections for incarcerated transgender individuals. While these states generally offer a safer environment for transgender adults, they stop short of going the extra mile to make their jurisdictions unequivocally safe places to reside.
  • Most Protective States (CA, CO, CT, DC, HI, IL, MA, MD, MN, NJ, NM, NY, OR, VT, WA): These states have gone above and beyond in safeguarding the rights and well-being of transgender individuals, making them highly desirable places to live for those in search of security. States like ColoradoHawaiiMaryland, and Washington have enacted comprehensive health insurance laws that cover facial hair removal and an expanded range of medical procedures. Each of these states offers refugee protections for individuals fleeing more repressive states with anti-trans laws. Care is not only supported but also enjoys legal reinforcement from the state, ensuring accessibility as long as such treatments remain lawful at the national level. These states are the most likely to counteract federal anti-trans regulations if faced with a Republican presidency.Please support my independent reporting and advocacy on transgender legislation by subscribing. You help me keep this going and keep people informed.Subscribed

The Youth Trans Legislative Risk Assessment Map

Very few states now occupy the middle ground in the realm of anti-trans legislation for transgender youth. Those marked in dark red have enacted bans on gender-affirming care for transgender youth, with many even mandating medical detransition for these young people. Conversely, states shown in dark blue have implemented refugee protection laws for trans youth seeking to escape the harsh legal environments of more restrictive states.

Moves in this update: Washington (Safe → Low Risk), Arizona (Medium Risk → Low Risk), Wyoming (Medium Risk → “Worst”)

  • Summary of updates: A number of shifts have occurred on the recent iteration of the youth map. In Washington, a ballot initiative was passed by the legislature that could be used to target LGBTQ+ youth with forced outing of trans and LGBTQ+ youth who come out to their counselors. Though it is uncertain how this ballot initiative will actually impact things, with some LGBTQ+ leaders in Washington assuring it will have no major impact, the use of ballot initiatives remains a potential vector for anti-trans laws. Washington State will thus be given a “low risk” classification, a small downgrade to its status. California and Colorado currently have ballot initiatives moving or gathering signatures, although the risk levels for those two states will not increase unless they gather enough signatures to go on the ballot. Arizona, on the other hand, failed to pass a ballot initiative through the legislature, and therefore returns back to low risk. Meanwhile, Wyoming has entered the “worst” category after passing a trans care ban for trans youth.

Nationwide Risk: Moderate. The 2024 election cycle remains a great threat towards transgender youth.


Erin Reed is a transgender woman (she/her pronouns) and researcher who tracks anti-LGBTQ+ legislation around the world and helps people become better advocates for their queer family, friends, colleagues, and community. Reed also is a social media consultant and public speaker.


The preceding article was first published at Erin In The Morning and is republished with permission.

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News Analysis

A.I., TikTok, big tech, & 2024 elections: Experts break down risks

Spread of misinformation through online platforms increasing as A.I. is now capable of generating “deepfake” audio & video content



Chris Bronk and Barb McQuade (Photos courtesy of the subjects, composite image by Christopher Kane/Washington Blade)

WASHINGTON — On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case that could decide whether government actors can pressure social media companies to remove certain harmful content from their platforms. A ruling is expected to come in June, just a few months ahead of the 2024 elections.

Meanwhile, as America’s relationship with China has become more strained than ever, the U.S. Congress may force a divestiture of TikTok from Chinese parent ByteDance over concerns with how the platform’s use in the U.S. could imperil national security. The bill would ban TikTok’s use in the U.S. if a sale is not completed within six months.

At the same time, the spread of misinformation and disinformation through online platforms, while not a new phenomenon, is abetted by increasingly sophisticated A.I. technologies that are now capable of generating “deepfake” audio and video content. The associated risks to the information ecosystem could influence American elections in ways that were not possible in years past.

In conversations this week with the Washington Blade, two experts outlined the threat landscape with respect to Big Tech, identifying election-related risks that are both preexisting and new. They also shared ideas for regulatory solutions and thoughts about the advantages and disadvantages of various moves that have been undertaken by U.S. lawmakers and other officials.

Chris Bronk is an associate professor with tenure at the University of Houston’s Hobby School of Public Affairs, having previously directed the university’s graduate cybersecurity program and served on the faculty of the College of Technology. He previously held high-profile positions, including a senior adviser role, at the U.S. Department of State. Bronk’s areas of expertise include internet censorship, online surveillance, border security, public diplomacy, organization information technology, and critical infrastructure protection. 

Barbara (“Barb”) McQuade is a lawyer who served as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan from 2010 to 2017, becoming deputy chief of the National Security Unit and prosecuting high-profile cases from public corruption and bank fraud involving elected officials to the theft of trade secrets. She is a professor of practice at the University of Michigan Law School as well as a legal analyst for NBC News and MSNBC. McQuade’s areas of expertise include criminal law and procedure, national security, data privacy, and civil rights.

Is TikTok more dangerous than American tech platforms?

Some critics of the TikTok bill feel the platform has been unfairly singled out, especially since the major American-owned competitors in online social media or short-form video sharing platforms have themselves faced scrutiny over many of the same issues lawmakers have identified with TikTok, from risks associated with the improper collection and misuse of data to design features that knowingly amplify the spread of harmful content.

LA Blade graphic

The difference, McQuade said, is that when it comes to American tech platforms, the “U.S. government could impose laws that could control their bad behavior” whereas because foreign owned entities largely operate beyond the reach of U.S. regulations, “we have to be extra mindful when a social media platform that has so much power is outside of the control of American government.”

“There are a lot of things we just don’t have visibility into,” she said. “So it could be that [foreign actors are] engaging in influence campaigns by putting certain videos online,” and even though “we don’t know that that’s happening,” McQuade noted “it’s a possibility and we lack recourse.”

“With regard to scraping data, I mean, we know Facebook is doing this, scraping our data and giving it away to researchers or selling it, but we have some recourse if we choose to exercise it,” McQuade said. “If it is the government of China who is doing that, we don’t have visibility into what they’re doing with it.”

She added, “Maybe they’re only using [the data] for helpful purposes, like in the same way Netflix suggests content that we like and we look at it and say, ‘yes, in fact I do’ — or is it being used to build dossiers on [users] so that we can be recruited for and leveraged and extorted to engage in espionage?”

“People make a lot of, essentially, the intelligence and information gathering aspect of TikTok, and I don’t know if it’s a whole lot different than what people do on Facebook,” Bronk said, adding that there is probably “too little” concern about Facebook’s conduct and influence among U.S. lawmakers and government officials.

At the same time, he said, “the issue I have with TikTok is that it’s a social media tool from China, or a social media platform from China, and U.S. social media platforms are banned in China,” which has long enforced prohibitions against the use of products made by companies like Google, YouTube, X (formerly Twitter), Instagram, WhatsApp, and Facebook.

In the U.S., Bronk said, free speech and expression, including criticism of the U.S. government, are protected (so long as the conduct does not involve, say, leading an insurrection by storming the U.S. Capitol Building). By contrast, he said, “when we were doing our censorship research on China, you know, if you complain about pollution in China, on any given day, no big deal; if you do it for two days in a row, maybe not a problem; but on the third day, you’re gonna get censored because you’re complaining too much.”

Likewise, Bronk said, the information ecosystem in the U.S. is shaped, at least to some extent, by a free and independent press, while China’s is not — further complicating the role played by social media and online platforms in the dissemination of news. And the two countries also have very different records with respect to human rights, Bronk added, noting that LGBTQ Americans enjoy many freedoms and protections that are not available to their Chinese counterparts.

“We’re pretty tolerant and China is not,” Bronk said. “So the idea that China exports this social media platform that it attempts to control very vigorously at home, I think that’s the issue I have, that it’s not a level playing field. And as long as it’s not a level playing field, the question is why should we play at all?”

Part of the problem, Bronk said, stems from the worsening geopolitical relationship between the two countries. “We in diplomacy circles hear this term, ‘no guardrails; no bottom’ — so we don’t know how much worse it can get, and we don’t really have the guideposts that we would have on a relationship like that that we had during the Cold War, through summits and things like that.”

The tussle now unfolding over TikTok, he said, “is part of a much larger geopolitical contest between the West and China. And not even just the West and China, now, but with China and its friends, which means North Korea, which is the only country that has a pact with China, and Russia and Iran. And so the question really becomes, how much are we going to delink the United States from China?”

TikTok’s algorithmic recommendation engine is owned and controlled by ByteDance, and the company would have to obtain permission from the Chinese government to license or sell the technology, which is likely to complicate negotiations over a divestiture.

Should TikTok’s ownership change hands, Bronk said the company would still face an uncertain future — partly because the sale would cause a “forking of the algorithm,” with the underlying software being developed simultaneously by ByteDance in China and by a different firm in the U.S., and also partly because TikTok’s success relies on the scale of its user base and volume of content hosted on the platform.

“Even if the ownership changes, platforms die,” he said. “Facebook is decidedly uncool for a generation of Americans now. X’s usership has declined precipitously since its purchase. MySpace is dead and buried. So what’s to say that TikTok isn’t bought by American buyers who spend billions of dollars and then the train wrecks?”

Election interference, misinformation, disinformation, and A.I.

“This idea that that they have all the interest in the world to try to manipulate — the Chinese and the Russians — to manipulate electoral behavior in the United States to get the candidate they want, I find it very frightening,” Bronk said. “And I think we’re very poorly prepared to monitor the situation.”

However, 2024 would not be the first time in which individuals and groups overseas, acting in the interest of foreign governments hostile to the U.S., have sought to influence American elections through social media and other channels.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election, which was released in 2019, “identified a lot of Russian influence actors,” McQuade said, pointing to the propaganda-peddling Internet Research Agency, a “troll farm” financed by an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin with ties to Russian intelligence that supported former President (then-candidate) Donald Trump’s bid for the White House.

She noted that the firm was known to publish fake posts on social media and build large online followings for fake accounts like “Blacktivist,” which posed “as a very reasonable, interesting, Black activist” and “then when it came close to the election said things like, ‘we should not vote for Hillary Clinton because she’s taken our vote for granted. Let’s send a message that we should not be ignored by not showing up at the polls and voting for her.'”

McQuade was quick to point out that these tactics to subvert American elections have been used by American actors, too. She noted, for example, a campaign in which U.S.-based political operatives sought to suppress the vote in Black communities during the 2016 presidential election by telling Black voters voters that they could cast their ballots via SMS text messages.

Drawing a distinction between the various different methods by which American elections might be manipulated, McQuade noted that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has declared election-related “hardware-software processes ‘critical infrastructure'” and is therefore “looking to anything that might intrude upon that or hack into that.”

“Equally important are influence campaigns that peddle in false information and use information as a weapon,” she said. “And I think that’s something that our Department of Homeland Security, our FBI, needs to be looking at” alongside the “private actors who look at disinformation at all of the social media companies.”

LA Blade file photo

Anti-LGBTQ misinformation is an example of how “the far right extreme portion of the Republican Party is trying to sow discord in society” with influence campaigns designed to exploit differences between different people and different groups for purposes of sowing discord, McQuade said.

“This false narrative that the LGBTQ community wants to groom your children for pedophilia,” she said, is evidence of the extent to which rhetoric that was once considered hyperbolic and out-of-bounds for political discourse is no longer taboo. “I used to joke,” McQuade said, that politicians would say to voters, “my opponent wants to eat your children.”

When online content is false or deceptive, McQuade said, “it’s really about flagging, and one hopes that the social media companies” will take steps like directing users “to accurate information rather than taking down information that [they] might find misleading.”

“The other brand, I think, is actual disinformation about the process of voting and I worry about that, which could cause people to become confused about the rules for voting or exhausted by trying to figure it out and discouraged from casting a ballot altogether,” she said.

McQuade said A.I. technologies might continue to play a role in this type of election interference, pointing to a scam in January, days before the 2024 New Hampshire primary elections, in which residents received robocalls in which an A.I.-generated clone of President Joe Biden’s voice urged them not to vote.

It can be difficult to convince people who have been duped by a convincing artificially generated deepfake, McQuade warned, which could show audio or video “evidence” of a candidate saying or doing something objectionable.

Bronk agreed, noting “every generation of those Nvidia chips that gets better, I mean, things look more and more real.” The company on Monday introduced its Blackwell B200 GPU, which according to The Verge is “the ‘world’s most powerful chip’ for AI” and according to Bronk is “30 times more powerful than the prior version.”

How can individuals defend themselves?

When asked how best to mitigate these attacks on elections, McQuade and Bronk agreed the American public must learn how to identify trusted and trustworthy sources of news and information and develop the skills to spot online content that might be false, misleading, manipulative, or artificially generated.

“What we need to do is push people in the direction of credible sources of information so that if and when this wave of disinformation comes around elections, people know their trusted sources online,” like the official government websites for the offices of secretaries of state or content published by nonprofit groups like the League of Women Voters, McQuade said.

“Some of this we’re doing to ourselves,” Bronk said, pointing to the fact that televised ads for political candidates are required to include disclaimers to indicate whether, for instance, the ad was authorized by the candidate or her campaign but funded by a political action committee (PAC), whereas political advertising on social media is regulated much more loosely.

Education is key, McQuade said, so that “when people are reading things online, they are able to be appropriately skeptical. They’re able to ask good questions, you know not just looking at the headline [but] looking for a second source, looking to a sizable data set if there’s a statistical study, understanding the difference between causation and correlation — there are a lot of things that we could all use to learn to build resilience against disinformation.”

She and Bronk both pointed to Finland as an example of a country that has sought to address the scourge of misinformation and disinformation spread by social media and online platforms by promoting digital and media literacy.

McQuade noted that, “in Finland, a country that has been affected by disinformation for a long time because of their proximity to Russia, they have introduced media literacy into their school curriculum to great success.”

The Supreme Court steps in

On Monday, The New York Times reported that the Supreme Court justices largely seemed receptive to arguments that U.S. government actors are free to contact social media companies over concerns about content on their platforms that may be harmful, so long as there is no coercion involved.

United States Supreme Court (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

McQuade said this analysis “strikes me as the correct outcome” because so long as the government is not urging the platforms to take action by “coercing” them or making demands “with repercussions and consequences and threats, then I think it does not amount to any sort of prior restraint where they’re telling them what they can and cannot publish.”

In many cases, she said, the government is simply flagging content that runs afoul of — or seems likely to violate — the companies’ own terms of service or community standards, which would include, for instance, materials for the recruitment of users into terrorist groups like ISIS or promoting “purported cures for Covid that are, in fact, fatal.”

“Sometimes,” McQuade said, “there are statements that have a grain of truth, and then are pitched in a misleading way to advance a political agenda, and that’s where it gets tricky, because I think the government doesn’t want to be in the business of suggesting any sort of message that would favor one political party over another or one political candidate over another.”

Ultimately, though, responsibility over how to handle content moderation decisions lies with the social media company or online platform, McQuade said. “I don’t think that the government should be telling social media platforms what to do really in any circumstance,” but instead should be “merely flagging things which can be problematic and then letting the social media companies decide for themselves how they want to deal with it.”

Stronger regulation is needed

“We can regulate social media without running afoul of our First Amendment rights,” McQuade said. She suggested, as a “first step,” regulating the algorithms used by the tech platforms, pointing to Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen’s 2021 testimony before Congress about how the platform’s software was deliberately designed to amplify content that drives outrage and, therefore, engagement.

“Why couldn’t we regulate the algorithms,” McQuade asked, “to either prevent them from stoking outrage or at least requiring them to disclose the way they’re stoking outrage so that people would know when they’re being manipulated and could choose to avoid it?”

“When you look at other industrial processes, like oil fracking, the federal government and state governments have a pretty accurate idea of how it works and what they’re doing with it, what chemicals they put in the fluids, all the processes — the oil companies have to explain all this stuff,” Bronk said.

By contrast, he said, “we don’t have transparency into any” of the algorithms used by large digital platforms. “We don’t know what the Facebook algorithms look like; we don’t know what the Google algorithms look like.”

Online platforms and social media companies “don’t want to be regulated,” Bronk said. “This is where we live now: We have all this technology that we don’t really understand how it works, we don’t know what the second and third-order effects of it are gonna be. And, you know, basically the companies are saying, ‘trust us, it’ll be fine,’ and I don’t think that’s necessarily the truth.”

The government could also establish stronger guardrails around how social media companies collect user data and sell it for purposes of micro-targeted advertising, whether for products or electoral candidates, McQuade said. “There are a number of things we can do without running afoul of the First Amendment.”

Additionally, while the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. FEC established that “corporations and other organizations have a First Amendment right to unlimited spending on campaigns,” McQuade said “we could require disclosure of how they are spending that money.”

“All we see are these big ads with Super PACs, with names like The Red, White, and Blue Grandmothers of America, and we don’t know who they are,” she said. So, “bringing some transparency to campaign finance would be a really good first step to avoiding the influence of big money” from individual donors or special interest groups whose campaign funding apparatuses and lobbying efforts are often deliberately disguised to look like popular grassroots organizing efforts.

The practice is often called “astroturfing.” “The internet makes it so easy,” Bronk said.


Bronk is the author of “Cyber Threat: The Rise of Information Geopolitics in U.S. National Security.”

McQuade is the author of “Attack from Within: How Disinformation Is Sabotaging America.”

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Cable news coverage of anti-trans bills: No voices of trans people

Cable coverage varied widely across networks in a record year for anti-LGBTQ bills both countering & perpetuating anti-trans narratives



Graphic by Andrea Austria for Media Matters

By Alyssa Tirrell & Ari Drennen | WASHINGTON – A record number of anti-LGBTQ bills were introduced in state legislatures across the country in 2023, including bills targeting the rights of trans people to use public bathrooms or access lifesaving gender-affirming care.

New data from Media Matters finds that while 2023 coverage of anti-trans legislation varied widely in terms of tone and time spent across cable networks, reporting on this onslaught consistently failed to include the first-person perspectives of trans or gender-nonconforming people. 

  • Cable coverage varied widely across networks in a record year for anti-LGBTQ legislation
  • 2023 saw more than 500 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced in state legislatures across the country, 75 of which became law. More than 20 states have now passed bans on gender-affirming therapy, puberty blockers, or surgeries for minors, while nine states restrict or block trans people’s access to bathrooms or other facilities consistent with their gender identity. A Media Matters study found that coverage of anti-trans legislation in 2023 — specifically, in this case, laws introduced into state legislatures that sought to ban or restrict trans people’s access to gender-affirming care or public facilities — varied widely in terms of tone and time spent across cable networks.
  • Time by network
  • Of all the cable networks that covered anti-trans legislation in 2023, MSNBC dedicated by far the greatest amount of time, with 4 hours and 27 minutes of airtime — accounting for almost half of the combined cable total of 9 hours spread over 137 segments and nearly as much as both CNN and Fox News combined. Fox News spent the least time — 2 hours and 11 minutes — covering specific bans or restrictions on health care or bathroom access for trans people, and CNN covered such legislation for 2 hours and 22 minutes. 
  • While networks across the political spectrum covered the same story, the tenor varied significantly. On MSNBC and CNN, 42% and 36% of segments, respectively, cited research to counter anti-trans narratives or misinformation, while 49% of Fox News segments argued in favor of restrictions on gender-affirming care or bathroom access for trans people. 
  • Network coverage failed to include trans and gender-nonconforming people in discussions of anti-trans legislation
  • Across MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News, the vast majority of segments covering anti-trans legislation did not include the voices of openly trans or gender-nonconforming people. MSNBC included trans or GNC guests in 22% of its segments while CNN included trans or GNC guests in 16% of its segments. Coverage was even more grim on Fox News, where no segments included a trans or GNC person — even though the network counts media personality Caitlyn Jenner, who is trans, among its employees
  • Segments and guestsEven accounting for segments which featured the parents of trans children — a total of 10 interviews on either MSNBC or CNN – only 19% of all segments analyzed in this study included a trans or GNC person or one of their parents as a guest.
  • More than a quarter of segments that featured a trans or GNC guest featured the same trans woman, Montana legislator Zooey Zephyr, who was banned from the floor of the Montana House chamber by her colleagues after she gave a passionate speech accusing them of having “blood on their hands.” 
  • Networks both countered and perpetuated anti-trans narratives and misinformation
  • The majority of segments on MSNBC and CNN placed discussions of anti-trans legislation within a broader political context, noting, for example, the uptick in anti-LGBTQ measures or the prevalence of anti-trans rhetoric and violence. No segments on either of these networks advanced common anti-trans talking points or endorsed the legislation.
  • By contrast, on Fox News nearly half of segments included anti-trans rhetoric or endorsed the legislation in question. 49% of segments on Fox News argued that bans on transition care would protect minors, while 40% of segments advanced arguments questioning either the science behind gender-affirming care or the credibility of the scientific institutions supporting access to gender-affirming medicine. All major medical associations in the U.S. support youth access to gender-affirming care. Unlike hosts and guests who claim that banning gender-affirming care will protect young people, an overwhelming number of experts agree that gender-affirming care is medically necessary and lifesaving. Experts also note that social affirmation of gender identity is key to a healthy transition.
  • Coverage favored gender-affirming care bans over legislation restricting access to bathrooms or facilities
  • Coverage of bills introduced into state legislatures largely favored discussions of gender-affirming care restrictions over public facility restrictions. While 97% of all segments discussed gender-affirming care bans, only 11% of segments discussed bathroom bans. 
  • Total segments by topic
  • CNN and Fox News watchers would have had to pay close attention to know that Florida and other states advanced legislation banning trans people from using public bathrooms or facilities: Just two segments on CNN and three on Fox News discussed the bills. MSNBC dedicated a total of 10 segments to at least some discussion of legislation restricting bathroom or facilities access at the state level.  
  • 2024 threatens to break the previous record for anti-LGBTQ legislation introduced in state legislatures
  • So far in 2024, state legislatures have already introduced at least 478 bills targeting LGBTQ people. Ninety-nine of these bills aim to restrict trans people’s access to health care in some way. Twelve of these bills aim to restrict trans people’s access to public accommodations, such as bathrooms and locker rooms, while an additional 31 bills pertain specifically to school facilities. As legislators in these states discuss an “endgame” that includes total bans on treatment for gender dysphoria and as families of trans people plead for funding to be able to flee their homes for states where they can receive care, the spotlight of media coverage will play an increasingly important role in the way that Americans understand this quiet crisis of internal displacement. The quality of this coverage and its real-world impacts depend on cable news networks including the perspectives and experiences of the trans and gender-nonconforming people most impacted by these legislative efforts. Charts by Molly Butler. 
  • Methodology
  • Media Matters searched transcripts in the SnapStream and Kinetiq video database for all original programming on Fox News Channel, CNN, and MSNBC for any of the terms “trans,” “transgender,” “biological boy,” “biological men,” “biological male,” “biological girl,” “biological women,” “biological female,” “gender identity,” or “single sex” within close proximity of any of the terms “restroom,” “bathroom,” “locker room,” “women’s spaces,” “girls room,” “boys room,” “gender affirming,” “health,” “puberty,” “surgery,” “surgical,” “therapy,” “counsel,” “dysphoria,”  “mutilation,” “mutilate,” or “hormone” from January 1, 2023, through December 31, 2023. We included segments, which we defined as instances when gender-affirming care or bathroom bans were the topic of significant discussion or when we found significant discussion of such anti-trans bans. We defined significant discussion as instances when two or more speakers in a multitopic segment discussed such anti-trans bans with one another.
  • We did not include mentions, which we defined as instances when a single speaker in a segment on another topic mentioned such anti-trans bans without another speaker in the segment engaging with the comment, or teasers, which we defined as instances when the anchor or host promoted a segment about such anti-trans bans scheduled to air later in the broadcast.
  • We then reviewed the identified segments for whether they discussed gender-affirming care or bathroom bans; featured a trans or gender-nonconforming guest; contextualized the legislation within a larger wave of anti-LGBTQ legislation, sentiment, and violence; echoed anti-trans talking points, such as claims that trans women pose a particular danger to cis women in public facilities or that trans identity is the product of mental illness, rendering gender-affirming care unnecessary or abusive; or cited statistical or scientific evidence to rebut the aforementioned anti-trans talking points.


The preceding article was previously published by Media Matters for America and is republished with permission.

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Libs of TikTok is going beyond anti-LGBTQ attacks

Raichik has publicly pushed the white nationalist “great replacement” conspiracy theory & posted about a so-called “planned invasion”



Graphic by Molly Butler for Media Matters

By Camden Carter | WASHINGTON – Chaya Raichik, who started the Libs of TikTok social media accounts known for anti-LGBTQ posts with context-free clips and videos that are regularly followed by harassment and threats of violence, recently told journalist Taylor Lorenz the U.S. is “importing people who want to destroy America” and is “bringing them in to replace us.”

Raichik’s comments to Lorenz mirror a dogma that has been pushed in right-wing media over the past decade: Migrants are “invaders” who are being “imported” by Democrats to “replace” white voters — also known as the “great replacement” conspiracy theory.

As the 2024 election approaches, right-wing media have renewed their push to convince voters that an “invasion” is unfolding at the U.S. southern border and violent crime is rampant across the country. Simultaneously, Libs of TikTok has seemingly expanded its focus to include fearmongering about immigration and violent crime. In these posts, she has used context-free clips and videos, alleging migrants and Black people are committing heinous crimes in the U.S.

Libs of TikTok has a history of posting hateful anti-LGBTQ content, some of which has been linked to harassment and violent threats

  • The Libs of TikTok social media accounts have spread anti-immigrant bigotry
  • In the last few months, Libs of TikTok has made numerous posts pushing “invasion” rhetoric, including spreading the debunked narrative that migrants are a danger to the U.S. Many of Libs of TikTok’s posts use single incidents of crime to assert that undocumented migrants are “harming Americans” and “putting Americans’ lives in danger.”
    • Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis even criticized the account “for lying about FL law,” in regards to immigrants and drivers’ licenses. The initial post, which was viewed at least 2.9 million times, claimed that “Apparently FL also gives illegals drivers licenses! Biden’s open borders allows v*olent criminals to terrorize Americans.” In a response post on X, DeSantis emphasized that the account “got community noted for lying” and said the post is among “attempts to generate clicks and engagement farm.” Libs of TikTok also posted this claim on Instagram, earning thousands of likes. [Twitter/X, 3/13/243/12/24; Instagram, 3/13/24]
    • Libs of TikTok posted a video of a group of migrants supposedly crossing a river in Eagle Pass, Texas, and claimed that it showed “someone is giving migrants GPS coordinates to invade our country,” arguing that “the invasion at the border is a coordinated plan.” [Instagram, 11/27/23
    • In a video that supposedly showed “a group of mostly military-age Chinese nationals entering our Country illegally,” Libs of TikTok claimed that “this is a planned invasion.” Right-wing student organization Turning Point USA Events commented on the post, writing, “100% planned.” [Instagram, 12/4/23, accessed 3/7/24]
    • Libs of TikTok posted with a caption claiming that “Illegals are invading our country and harming Americans!” The caption accompanied a photo of a person whom the post referred to as an “an illegal from Haiti” who had supposedly been “arrested for r*ping a developmentally disabled person.” [Instagram, 1/22/24]
    • Libs of TikTok posted a claim that “Haitian cannibal gangs coming soon to a city near you! Joe Biden’s America.” The post, which seemingly refers to claims related to a falsely captioned video spreading on social media, also shared another post from TPUSA’s Charlie Kirk about anticipated “mass migration” of Haitians to the U.S. [Twitter/X, 3/12/24; Snopes, 3/13/24]
    • On X and Instagram, Libs of TikTok claimed that “local woke courts” released a man from El Salvador who supposedly killed a 2-year-old, asking, “How many more people need to die before Biden does something about our nonexistent border?!” [Twitter/X, 2/27/24; Instagram, 2/29/24]
    • In response to an X user claiming the Biden “administration is never going to secure the border regardless of the number of crimes they commit,” Libs of TikTok responded, “Because they need their new voters.” The X user had been commenting on Libs of TikTok’s post about the “local woke courts.” [Twitter/X, 2/27/24]
    • In another post, Libs of TikTok claimed that “Biden’s open border is leading to crimes all over the country and putting Americans’ lives in danger. We have no idea who’s in our country.” The post claimed that three men — whom Libs of TikTok referred to as “Mexicans” — had been caught “recruiting other illegals to commit theft for fake IDs.” [Instagram, 2/2/24]
    • Libs of TikTok has posted individual acts of violence and fearmongered about migrants committing crimes at least 7 other times on Instagram and X. One of those posts claimed that “Biden’s border policies allow v*olent criminals, pedos, and r*pists to put Americans’ lives in danger!” [Instagram, 1/30/242/14/2412/11/23; Twitter/X, 2/27/242/28/242/27/242/27/24
  • Libs of TikTok has also pushed anti-Black narratives and claimed that white people are being demonized in mainstream media
  • In addition to pushing anti-immigrant rhetoric, Libs of TikTok has also been posting about isolated cases of Black people allegedly committing violent crimes against white people, arguing that such cases aren’t reported by media outlets because they “don’t fit the narrative.” While no doubt tragic, these incidents are not representative of the larger reality of crime in America, and white supremacists have historically used instances of Black crime to push their bigotry.
    • In one post, Libs of TikTok claimed that a scene from a Netflix show “demonizes white people,” adding, “They’re injecting anti-white racism into movies.” [Instagram, 12/22/23]In another post, the account claimed that the gun used in the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl parade shooting had been “stolen” and that because the alleged shooters “weren’t white” the public “won’t hear about this story from the MSM [mainstream media] because it doesn’t fit their narrative.” In reality, mainstream outlets extensively covered the shooting, though they did not reveal certain details about the suspected shooters because they were juveniles. [Twitter, 2/21/24; NBC, 2/20/24; CNN, 2/14/24; Associated Press, 2/16/24]Libs of TikTok claimed in another post that “you won’t hear about this story” of an alleged incident of a Black person murdering a white person from the mainstream media because it “doesn’t fit the narrative.” This story was in fact reported by local media, as well as several larger outlets. [Instagram, 2/20/24; New York Post, 2/18/24; Daily Mail, 2/19/24; WISN, 2/16/24; Fox 6 Milwaukee, 2/16/24]In other posts, Libs of TikTok highlighted incidents of nonwhite suspects supposedly killing white law enforcement officers. [Twitter, 2/21/24; Instagram, 2/18/242/19/24
    Other far-right social media accounts on Instagram that similarly post about isolated incidents of crimes supposedly committed by nonwhite suspects to promote racist stereotypes have avoided moderation from social media platforms by leaving it to the audience to glean the implied racist narrative.
  • The Libs of TikTok social media accounts have historically spread vile hatred and misinformation about LGBTQ people, which has been linked to harassment and threats of violence against at least 39 institutions, events, or individuals. The account once mocked a trans murder victim, and it has repeatedly equated being LGBTQ with sexually “grooming” children. On her personal account, Raichik has also falsely claimed that there is an “epidemic” of trans people committing violence. [Media Matters, 11/2/231/23/23; Twitter/X, 2/12/24]
  • Libs of TikTok has amassed a robust social media following, with more than 2.9 million followers on X (formerly Twitter) and nearly 500,000 followers on Instagram. The account has been temporarily suspended on multiple platforms. It remains on Facebook and Instagram, even though some of its posts seemingly violate Meta’s content moderation policies. [Media Matters, 10/3/228/18/22, Twitter/X, accessed 3/7/24; Instagram, accessed 3/7/24]


The preceding article & research study was previously published by Media Matters for America and is republished with permission.

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New MAP Report: The far right’s battle to control America

The far-right forces attacking diverse freedoms across the nation ultimately want to create a rigid, restrictive society




BOULDER, Colo. – Across virtually every aspect of life, people’s freedoms are under assault in the United States. The forces attacking these diverse freedoms ultimately want to create a rigid, restrictive society  according to their worldview only, with little room for  those of different beliefs, values, or expression.

Amid a continuing onslaught of political attacks on LGBTQ people, abortion access, the right to vote, and much more, the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) released a new report that describes the web of attacks on virtually every area of American’s lives, including who people can be, what they can do with their bodies, and how to live their lives.

“These varied attacks may seem disparate and disconnected, but in fact they are part of a coordinated campaign. The goal is to force all of us into lockstep with far-right extremists’ narrow and exclusionary view of the world,” said Tessa Juste, a researcher at Movement Advancement Project.

MAP’s new report, Freedom Under Fire: the Far Right’s Battle to Control Americaconnects the dots on extremist politicians’ attempts to fundamentally remake this country.  These attacks affect nearly every aspect of our lives, including the following: 

Restrictions on health care and the right to make decisions about one’s body  

  • Lawmakers want to decide what kind of health care people can receive, including limiting the ability to get an abortion, receive medical care as a transgender person, and access preventative care like contraception and PrEP.  

Restrictions on the freedom of ideas and the ability to get a comprehensive education 

  • Recently passed laws include censor what schools can teach about a range of important topics such as slavery and the Holocaust, and about the contributions of people of color and LGBTQ people. Similarly, the surge in banning books from public libraries and schools limits the ability to learn about topics the far right disagrees with.  

Restrictions on the freedom of travel and the ability to be in public places 

Restrictions on accurate legal recognition of people’s identities 

  • Attacks include making it harder, if not impossible, for people to obtain ID documents. This puts transgender people, undocumented immigrants, and others at risk and limits their ability to move through daily life.  

Restrictions on freedom of the press and freedom of expression 

  • Despite the First Amendment as a core principle, attacks in this area include policies that limit and punish free expression and that infringe on freedoms of the press, speech, and protest. Efforts to force journalists to register with the state, to restrict the right to protest, to ban drag shows, and to remove LGBTQ Pride flags from public spaces speak to the pervasiveness of these efforts. 

Restricting the right to vote and participate in free, fair elections 

  • Far-right politicians are attacking the cornerstone of our democracy with a range of restrictions on the right to vote. Targeted efforts disenfranchise younger voters and voters of color and limit people’s ability to elect leaders to represent their values. Further, even elected officials who advocate for their constituents’ freedoms have been censured, trying to silence them. 

“These attacks are a deeply connected part of a broad, coordinated effort to strip people of their basic freedoms and to enact authoritarian state control over American life. The forces behind these attacks want to create a rigid society that conforms to a Christian nationalist worldview that demands obedience and leaves no room for individuality. The reality is that this harms people across all backgrounds, religions, and political beliefs,” said Juste. 

For additional research and analysis, see the following reports from MAP: 


MAP’s mission is to provide independent and rigorous research, insight and communications that help speed equality and opportunity for all. MAP works to ensure that all people have a fair chance to pursue health and happiness, earn a living, take care of the ones they love, be safe in their communities, and participate in civic life. 

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Gallup Poll: 7.6% of adults in the U.S. identify as LGBTQ+

Increases in LGBTQ+ identification in recent years have occurred as members of Gen Z and the millennial generation have entered adulthood



Graphic by the Hlliburton Foundation

WASHINGTON – Researchers from the Gallup Polling organization released the results of the latest Gallup Poll that LGBTQ+ identification among adults continues to grow, with 7.6% of the population in the United States now identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or some other sexual orientation besides heterosexual.

The current figure is up from 5.6% four years ago and 3.5% in 2012, Gallup’s first year of measuring sexual orientation and transgender identity.

Graphic via Gallup Poll

According to Gallup Polling:

These results are based on aggregated data from 2023 Gallup telephone surveys, encompassing interviews with more than 12,000 Americans aged 18 and older. In each survey, Gallup asks respondents whether they identify as heterosexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or something else. Overall, 85.6% say they are straight or heterosexual, 7.6% identify with one or more LGBTQ+ groups, and 6.8% decline to respond.

Bisexual adults make up the largest proportion of the LGBTQ+ population — 4.4% of U.S. adults and 57.3% of LGBTQ+ adults say they are bisexual. Gay and lesbian are the next-most-common identities, each representing slightly over 1% of U.S. adults and roughly one in six LGBTQ+ adults. Slightly less than 1% of U.S. adults and about one in eight LGBTQ+ adults are transgender. The most commonly volunteered LGBTQ+ identities are pansexual and asexual, mentioned by less than 2% of LGBTQ+ adults each.

Graphic via Gallup Poll

LGBTQ+ identification higher among Gen Z

Increases in LGBTQ+ identification in recent years have occurred as members of Generation Z and the millennial generation have entered adulthood. Adults in these younger generations are far more likely than those in older generations to identify as LGBTQ+.

Researchers reported that overall, each younger generation is about twice as likely as the generation that preceded it to identify as LGBTQ+. More than one in five Gen Z adults, ranging in age from 18 to 26 in 2023, identify as LGBTQ+, as do nearly one in 10 millennials (aged 27 to 42). The percentage drops to less than 5% of Generation X, 2% of baby boomers and 1% of the Silent Generation.

Graphic via Gallup Poll

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YouTube lets right-wing creators misgender & deadname trans folks

Right-wing YouTubers & Daily Wire personalities with millions of subscribers regularly misgender and deadname trans people in content with ads



Graphic by Molly Butler for Media Matters

By Payton Armstrong | WASHINGTON – YouTube is allowing right-wing creators with millions of subscribers to misgender and deadname trans people on its platform — and monetizing that content through advertising. 

YouTube has claimed for years to be committed to protecting trans people from hate speech and harassment on the platform while resisting advocates’ calls to explicitly prohibit intentionally deadnaming or misgendering trans people — forms of harassment that involve using a trans person’s former name or incorrect pronouns. 

Media Matters reviewed the YouTube channels of popular right-wing pundits including The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh, Ben Shapiro, Michael Knowles, and Candace Owens and found that they have repeatedly misgendered and deadnamed high-profile trans people, including minors. What’s more, their content misidentifying trans people was frequently monetized, meaning that YouTube and the creators likely profited from this bigotry.

Though YouTube has temporarily suspended or demonetized accounts in the past for violating its hate speech and harassment policies by promoting bigotry against LGBTQ people, the platform’s lack of explicit rules around misgendering and deadnaming has left YouTube rife with monetized anti-trans vitriol.

YouTube has unevenly penalized right-wing creators for misidentifying trans people while ignoring advocates’ calls to strengthen its hate speech policies

  • YouTube’s guidelines claim to protect trans people but as Axios reported, the platform’s inconsistent moderation of anti-trans content indicates that YouTube “doesn’t view deliberately misgendering someone, even repeatedly, as a violation” of its policies. 
  • YouTube’s hate speech and harassment policies prohibit “content that promotes violence or hatred against individuals or groups” or “targets someone with prolonged insults or slurs based on their physical traits or protected group status,” including gender identity or sexual orientation. But the platform does not explicitly mention misgendering or deadnaming in its policies. In 2022, after YouTube demonetized two videos from right-wing pundit Jordan Peterson that misgendered actor Elliot Page, Axios reported that YouTube was “actively looking at this policy,” but it appears no changes were made with respect to misgendering or deadnaming. [YouTube hate speech policy, accessed 2/13/24; YouTube harassment policy, accessed 2/13/24; Axios, 8/2/22; GLAAD, 12/11/23]
  • YouTube has resisted advocates’ calls to ban targeted deadnaming and misgendering. 
  • In 2021, 20 organizations (including Media Matters) called on YouTube to ban targeted deadnaming and misgendering trans people. In December 2023, GLAAD once again called on YouTube and other social media platforms to prohibit targeted misgendering and deadnaming. As noted by GLAAD for Tech Policy Press, “the practice of targeted misgendering and deadnaming has emerged in recent years as one of the most common modalities for expressing contempt toward trans and nonbinary people across social media platforms.” [Media Matters, 8/12/218/12/21; GLAAD, 12/11/23; Tech Policy Press, 6/7/23]
  • YouTube has stated publicly that it views “deliberate misgendering as potentially violative of its monetization” guidelines. 
  • YouTube claims to set “a higher bar for monetization,” and it deems videos ineligible for ads if their content “incites hatred against, promotes discrimination, disparages, or humiliates an individual or group of people,” including attacks based on gender identity. In June 2023, Candace Owens claimed YouTube told her that instances of misgendering individuals were considered “hateful conduct,” and a Google spokesperson told NBC News that the company, which owns YouTube, had blocked ads on “several videos on Candace Owen’s channel for violating our monetization policies, including those against hateful and derogatory content.” [YouTube content monetization policies, accessed 2/13/24; YouTube advertiser-friendly content guidelines, 2/13/24; NBC News, 6/8/23]
  • Overall, YouTube’s enforcement actions against content misidentifying trans people have been uneven — particularly for creators from right-wing outlet The Daily Wire. 
  • In April 2023, YouTube stripped Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh of advertiser revenue from his channel after he repeatedly attacked TikTok star Dylan Mulvaney with anti-trans vitriol on the platform. The channel’s monetization was restored just 90 days later despite Walsh publicly vowing not to change his behavior. Additionally, Daily Wire’s Candace Owens and Michael Knowles were temporarily suspended from YouTube for directing vitriol to LGBTQ people. On her channel prior to her suspension, Owens had said “transgenderism” is “a cancer and we should fight it,” and boasted that she could “beat up” a nonbinary naval service member. However, YouTube has allowed Owens to post other anti-LGBTQ content that appears to violate its hate speech and harassment rules. [Media Matters, 6/15/234/20/238/25/233/10/239/15/23]
  • YouTube is allowing Daily Wire personalities to seemingly profit from videos that misgender and deadname trans people
  • Matt Walsh
  • Walsh is a host for The Daily Wire and has over 2.8 million subscribers on YouTube.
    • Walsh posted a video calling for Dwyane Wade to be arrested for supporting his trans daughter, Zaya Wade — who is a minor — and he also repeatedly misgendered her, including in the video title. In the video titled “Washed Up NBA Player Sells His Son To The Trans Ideology,” Walsh claimed there is no such thing as a trans child, incorrectly referred to Zaya Wade using he/him pronouns, and said it is “emphatically not true” that “transgenderism should be affirmed.” Walsh declared that Wade “is actively leading his son into self-rejection, self-loathing, deeper and deeper confusion. He has taken his son by his hand and guided him straight over the cliff, and profited from it the whole way down. It is again pure evil. He should be shamed for it and disgraced for it. Ostracized from society, arrested. This is abuse.” The video is monetized and has over 480,000 views. [YouTube, 11/4/22, accessed 3/4/24]
    • Walsh posted a video repeatedly misgendering trans MMA fighter Alana McLaughlin. 
    • In the video — which is monetized and has over 1.4 million views — Walsh declared, “Literally every part of him is male. If they dig up his remains a hundred years from now, no matter how much of him is left, they will be able to tell that he was male.” Walsh continued arguing that “your maleness or your femaleness is one of the most ingrained, most permanent, most enduring aspects of who you are. It’s so enduring that it remains even after you die. McClaughlin will be a male even when he doesn’t exist anymore. That’s how male he is.” [YouTube, 9/14/21, accessed 3/4/24]
    • Walsh posted a video misgendering trans activist Jazz Jennings and attacked her mother for supporting her transition. 
    • During the video — which is monetized and has over 1.7 million views — Walsh used he/him pronouns for Jennings and declared to her mother: “Your son is mutilated beyond recognition and he’s gone through with the whole quote-unquote ‘sex change,’ quote-unquote ‘gender affirmation,’ medical — you know, the whole catalog, he’s got.” [YouTube, 3/20/23, accessed 3/4/24]
    • Walsh posted a video repeatedly misgendering U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Rachel Levine and suggesting her support of trans rights “should qualify you for a mental institution or prison.” 
    • Walsh called Levine a “male” and derided her for supporting health care for trans youth, saying that her support “should qualify you for a mental institution or prison, not for a position in government.” The video is monetized and has over 50,000 views. [YouTube, 2/26/21, accessed 3/4/24]
    • Walsh posted a video misgendering Dylan Mulvaney and reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner. 
    • Walsh opened the video — which is monetized with nearly 700,000 views — calling Mulvaney and Jenner “two males” and using incorrect pronouns. [YouTube, 11/3/22, accessed 3/4/24]
    • Walsh posted a video repeatedly misgendering and deadnaming trans actor Elliot Page. 
    • Walsh used female pronouns for Page throughout the 12-minute video — which is monetized and has over 1 million views. [YouTube, 12/2/20, accessed 3/4/24]
  • Ben Shapiro
  • Shapiro is the founder of The Daily Wire and has over 6.7 million subscribers on YouTube.
    • Shapiro posted a video repeatedly misgendering and deadnaming Elliot Page — including in the video’s title — declaring that “[Elliot] Page is, was, and shall remain a woman.” 
    • (In accordance with the Trans Journalists Association style guide, Media Matters has replaced Page’s deadname in brackets in the previous quote.) Shapiro complained about using the correct pronouns for trans people generally, saying that “the media have created this bizarre standard whereby if a person declares themselves a member of the opposite gender, the entire world, especially in the media, must immediately flip on a dime, stop calling them by the name everybody knew them as, and stop calling them by their biological sex.” The video is monetized and has over 2.9 million views. [YouTube, 12/2/20, accessed 3/4/24]
    • Shapiro posted a video repeatedly misgendering two trans parents. 
    • The video piled onto a right-wing harassment campaign against two trans parents who were featured in a Facebook Watch docuseries about pregnancy. Shapiro also demeaned the parents, calling the mother “a pervert.” The video is monetized and has over 2.8 million views. [YouTube, 7/13/21, accessed 3/4/24]
  • Candace Owens
  • Owens is a host for The Daily Wire and has over 2.8 million subscribers on YouTube.
    • Owens posted a video repeatedly misgendering a trans child and urged parents to reject their child if they are trans. 
    • Owens used the incorrect pronouns for a trans child, saying that “a mother posted regarding her son, who she believes is her daughter because he has begun transitioning.” Owens said that the mother had “mutilated your once perfectly healthy, growing son over a feeling that he had,” and also compared parents’ choosing to affirm their trans children to allowing them to jump out of a window. The video is monetized and has over 130,000 views. [YouTube, 4/30/22, accessed 3/4/24]
    • Owens posted a video attacking the concept of using the correct pronouns for trans people. 
    • In the video, which is monetized and has nearly 400,000 views, Owens agreed with right-wing pundit Elijah Schaffer that being trans is “all made up in their heads,” and is “state-sponsored, this is socially sponsored, tech-sponsored mental illness.” (YouTube’s hate speech policy prohibits content including statements that an individual or group with a protected attribute “is just a form of mental illness that needs to be cured.”) [YouTube, 4/16/22, accessed 3/4/24; YouTube hate speech policy, accessed 2/13/24]
  • Michael Knowles
  • Knowles is a host for The Daily Wire and has over 1.8 million subscribers on YouTube.
    • Knowles uploaded a video repeatedly misgendering Elliot Page, including in the video’s title. 
    • Knowles also repeatedly deadnamed Page in the nearly six-minute video, even acknowledging at the beginning that he was not supposed to use Page’s deadname otherwise “this podcast is going to be taken down.” The video is monetized and has over 175,000 views. [YouTube, 12/2/20, accessed 3/4/24]
    • Knowles repeatedly misgendered Caitlyn Jenner while discussing her run for California governor, declaring he would never use her correct pronouns. 
    • Knowles stated, “I’m not going to call him her. I can’t do it because he is not a woman. And so I’m not going to pretend that he is.” Knowles also urged others to misgender trans people, saying that conservatives need to be “united in fighting this very subtle linguistic strategy.” The video is monetized and has over 125,000 views. [YouTube, 4/26/21, accessed 3/4/24]
  • Brett Cooper
  • Cooper is a host for The Daily Wire, and her YouTube channel has over 4 million subscribers.
    • Cooper posted a video misgendering trans internet personality Grant Sikes. 
    • In the video — which is monetized and has over 1 million views — Cooper attacked Sikes for trying to join a sorority, declaring that “he was so sad that he didn’t get in. You’re a man! Obviously you are not going to get into a sorority. I don’t care if you put on a skirt. … There are fraternities for you.” [YouTube, 12/1/22, accessed 3/4/24; Business Insider, 11/16/22]
    • Cooper posted a video mocking, deadnaming, and repeatedly misgendering former NCAA swimmer Lia Thomas, who has been the subject of a yearslong right-wing media hate campaign. 
    • Cooper questioned, “What does Lia Thomas actually think he is when he’s calling himself a woman?” During the video — which is monetized and has over 650,000 views — Cooper described Thomas as a “man” and used the incorrect pronouns. [YouTube, 6/1/22, accessed 3/4/24; Media Matters, 2/2/22]
  • Other right-wing YouTubers with millions of subscribers have seemingly profited from monetized videos that misgender and direct vitriol toward trans people
  • Hodgetwins
  • Keith and Kevin Hodge, who go by the “Hodgetwins,” are YouTubers who have nearly 3 million subscribers.
    • The Hodgetwins posted a video mocking and referring to a trans person as “it.” 
    • The pundits rejected the notion of using a trans person’s correct pronouns, complaining, “They say that we are misgendering them when they have misgendered themselves.” They also said that LGBTQ people should not be allowed to get married or adopt children, claiming that “where it went wrong is the whole pronoun thing.” The video is monetized and has over 250,000 views. [YouTube, 12/29/23, accessed 3/4/24]
    • The Hodgetwins posted a video repeatedly misgendering a trans person and seemingly justifying violence against them. 
    • Referring to a trans woman, the Hodgetwins said that “he tricked another dude” and that, “it’s all fun and games online but can’t do that in real life, bad things happens — when you question or attack someone’s sexuality, make them confused, and you back them in a corner and you got all that cock showing? I mean, right to your instincts.” The video is monetized and has over 200,000 views. [YouTube, 12/29/23, accessed 3/4/24]
    • The Hodgetwins posted a video repeatedly misgendering Zaya Wade, who they noted was 14 at the time of the video. 
    • In the video — which has over 300,000 views and is monetized — the commentators also misgendered Zaya’s significant other and declared, “I don’t like playing that game though, with the pronouns. I ain’t playing that game.” [YouTube, 4/28/22, accessed 3/4/24]
  • Brandon Tatum
  • Tatum is a right-wing commentator with over 2.8 million subscribers on YouTube.
    • Tatum posted a video repeatedly misgendering Zaya Wade, including in the video’s title. 
    • The video titled “Dwayne Wade’s EX SPEAKS OUT After TRANSITIONING Son Zaya Wade” is monetized with over 1.4 million views. Tatum repeatedly referred to Zaya Wade as “D. Wade’s little boy,” and said that her father “should be ashamed of himself” because “what man would do his son like this?” [YouTube, 11/3/22, accessed 3/4/24]
    • Tatum posted another video misgendering Zaya Wade, disparaging her physical appearance and claiming that Dwyane Wade “pushes grooming” by affirming her gender identity. 
    • Tatum said, “We’re sick of y’all grooming these kids — you should be ashamed of yourself if you’re running around doing what D. Wade [is] about to do,” and claimed that the former NBA star “emasculated your boy.” Tatum claimed, “Zaya is going to be 6’8 with a size 40 shoe — ain’t no man is going to want you! And they know that no man is going to want their boy.” Tatum continued, “Nobody is going to want that 6’8 big old boy with shoulders this big and he trying to wear a dress.” The video is monetized and has over 400,000 views. [YouTube, 2/27/22, accessed 3/4/24]
    • Tatum posted yet another video misgendering Zaya Wade and suggested she would either end up attempting suicide or “doing pornography.” 
    • Tatum repeatedly referred to Zaya as a “boy,” and said that “I’m predicting that in the future, this boy is going to have tremendous issues. This boy is going to have a tremendous identity crisis. … It’s going to come out in oversexuality — which means he’s going to go to doing pornography and posing in nude stuff and being overly sexualized, or it’s going to come out in a huge amount of depression and suicide. I’m not saying actual suicide, but at least depression and suicide attempts or suicidal ideations.” Tatum also said that Zaya may now be able to “pass for a girl,” but “when them cheek lines start getting real strong and you look like you’ve been chewing tobacco all day, it’s not going to be cute.” The video is monetized and has over 480,000 views. [YouTube, 9/20/22, accessed 3/4/24]


The preceding piece was previously published by Media Matters for America, a Los Angeles Blade media partner and is republished with permission.

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News Analysis

Transphobic J.K. Rowling calls trans journalist “A man…cosplaying”

The posts will likely become the clearest examples people point to in the future when asked about the author’s transphobia



Transphobic British writer J.K. Rowling in a 2020 BBC interview. (Screenshot/YouTube BBC)

By Erin Reed | WASHINGTON – On Monday, J.K. Rowling, while advocating for banning transgender women from women’s restrooms, called transgender journalist India Willoughby “a man reveling in his misogynistic performance of what he thinks ‘woman’ means.”

She then later stated that Willoughby is “cosplaying” her gender identity. The author had previously made several remarks widely seen as transphobic and hateful. However, these latest remarks are some of the most brazen from the childhood author, who has since doubled down after receiving heavy criticism.

Rowling took to Twitter on Monday to call trans journalist and broadcaster India Willoughby “a man,” “cosplaying a male fantasy,” the latest in a long list of transphobic remarks from the author.

Her post targeting Willoughby and her transgender allies came after she compared allowing transgender people to use bathrooms with being permissive about pedophile teachers. She then advocated for forcing transgender women to use men’s restrooms later in the post. When a commenter questioned her stance by asking, “So you are saying this lady should use the men’s locker room then?” she responded, “There isn’t a lady in this , just a man reveling in his misogynistic performance of what he thinks a ‘woman’ means.” She later added that Willoughby is “cosplaying a misogynistic male fantasy,” a claim that stems from the notion that transgender people are “fetishists.”

You can see her posts here:

JK Rowling calling India Willoughby “a man” [top tweet] and saying she is “cosplaying a misogynistic male fantasy” [bottom]

The posts will likely become the clearest examples people point to in the future when asked about the author’s transphobia. In recent years, Rowling has made increasingly hostile remarks towards transgender people.

Previous instances of statements and remarks targeting trans people include:

Despite these examples, some columnists such as EJ Rosetta have claimed that they have searched for “12 weeks” to find transphobic quotes and could find none, an opinion echoed by UK paper The Daily Mail.

The reaction to and condemnation of her remarks were swift. Alejandra Caraballo, a transgender Harvard Law clinical instructor, said that Rowling “openly attacked a transgender woman solely for being trans,” adding that it was “pure bigotry.”

Transgender actor Nicole Maines stated that anyone who “continues to support, employ, and collaborate with Rowling is directly harming transgender people globally.” Jo Maugham, director of the Good Law Project, asked, “If you don’t ‘pass’ you are the butt of jokes. If you do pass you are ‘cosplaying a misogynistic fantasy’. So how are you to be yourself in this world?”

Even Tom Harwood, Deputy Political Editor at the right-leaning news outlet GBNews, noted, “J.K. Rowling has moved a long way from her original framing of her views back in 2020: ‘I respect every trans person’s right to live in any way that feels authentic and comfortable to them.’”

India Willoughby herself responded, “Genuinely disgusted by this. Grotesque transphobia, which is upsetting. I am every bit as much a woman as JK Rowling. Recognised in law, and by everyone I interact with every day. The debate about whether JK Rowling is a transphobe is over.”

Despite this, prominent anti-trans figures in the United Kingdom have continued to defend her, asserting that her comments were “not transphobic.” This group includes notable “gender critical” activist Maya Forstater and online anti-trans activist Jack David. Rowling herself doubled down, stating, “accurately sexing trans-identified men” is “not discrimination.”

For transgender individuals, however, this latest incident will serve as a potent example of transphobic remarks in future discussions.


Erin Reed is a transgender woman and researcher who tracks anti-LGBTQ+ legislation around the world and helps people become better advocates for their queer family, friends, colleagues, and community. Reed also is a social media consultant and public speaker.

The preceding post was previously published at Erin in the Morning and is republished with permission.

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