Elon Musk unlocked Twitter’s transphobe dungeon Friday, marking a wild and disappointing end to Trans Awareness Week 2022, capped with the unlocking of former President Trump’s Twitter account Saturday.
Typically this is a time of celebration, leading up to today, Sunday’s annual International Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), a day and night to mourn those killed just for being who they are: at least 32 souls this year, according to the toll maintained by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).
Once again, a majority of the victims were Black trans women. And, as The Daily Beast’s Sydney Bauer reported earlier this week, HRC tabulated that more than 300 trans and gender non-confirming individuals have been murdered over the last decade.
But instead of focusing on their names, attention has been diverted by mainstream media like The New York Times and Reuters to panic-inducing, misleading reports on gender affirming health care for trans and nonbinary youth. As we gather after a year of legislative hate and denial of rights and services, primed to take a symbolic stand as survivors, I beg you to do more.
We can no longer afford to stay in our lane, obeying the transgender speed limit, limiting ourselves to politely tweeting hashtags. lighting candles, and reciting the names of murder victims.
Tweeting #TDOR is no longer enough. Reading names is no longer enough. Lighting candles is no longer enough, not when Florida bans kids from starting or continuing treatment for their verifiable legitimate health care needs. Or when Texas forces parents of trans kids to leave that state to avoid accusations of child abuse, which potentially could mean losing custody of their children.
Fighting oppression requires action. Against whom? For starters: Newly re-elected Governors Greg Abbott and Ron DeSantis, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and the world’s richest man, the father to a trans woman who not only changed her name to live authentically but also publicly disowned him. Elon Musk just showed us why she was right to do so.
As The Daily Beast reported, Twitter reinstated banned accounts belonging to Canadian anti-trans activist and psychologist Jordan Peterson and the right-wing nut parody website, the Babylon Bee. He also reinstated comic Kathy Griffin, whose account followed by two million users was suspended after she changed her profile name to “Elon Musk.”
Musk announced the change and his “New Twitter policy” with a tweet: “freedom of speech, but not freedom of reach.” Musk misspelled both Griffin’s and Peterson’s first names, as The Daily Beast reported. Peterson was kicked off Twitter for repeatedly violating the pre-Musk Terms of Service policy against hateful conduct, which in his case was to constantly deadname and misgender actor Eliot Page. Peterson tweeted his thanks to Musk with an image from the film The Shining that is either ironic or fitting, depending on your perspective.
The Babylon Bee lost its Twitter privileges prior to Musk’s purchase for tweeting a “joke” that misgendered Adm. Rachel Levine, the assistant secretary for health in the Biden administration. Levine is a trans woman; the Babylon Bee named her “Man of the Year.”
“Musk is a parasite in every sense of the word,” writer and advocate Tiq Milan tells The Daily Beast. Milan is also a trans man and a dad. “Twitter is a powerful platform that informs millions of people about the experiences of other people,” says Milan. “When these violent anti-trans accounts are allowed to spew their vitriol and influence the masses, trans people die. Trans people are dissected, scrutinized and treated as less than human and people justify it. Freedom of speech is important but it comes at the expense of our lives. F*** Elon.”
“The trans community and our allies will have to tap into the sense of resilience that folks in our community have relied on for centuries.”
— Miss Peppermint
“While I believe in a healthy exchange of ideas,” says activist and entertainer Miss Peppermint, “I don’t believe that the reinstatement of accounts that broadcast hateful speech, constantly targeting trans people, and the fact that certain legislators are also obsessed with creating laws that ban trans people from doing basic, every day activities, are a coincidence. I think they are signs that Elon Musk and now his subordinates at Twitter are stuck in the idea of tradition, and willing to do anything for a dollar, despite how harmful it may be.”
Miss Peppermint shot to fame after appearing as a contestant on season nine of RuPaul’s Drag Race. “It’s also a sign that Twitter has lowered the already low bar when it comes to decorum. I only regret that it happens during Trans Awareness Week. Now the trans community and our allies will have to tap into the sense of resilience that folks in our community have relied on for centuries. Despite all their efforts, trans people will endure and outlast the old ideas and bigots and now apparently, Twitter.”
My feeling is, it’s Musk’s company, he can do what he wants and so can we. Like millions of users have already done, I’ll eventually share my social media elsewhere. For now, I’m simply standing on the sidewalk, gawking at the wreckage. For now, that doesn’t cost $8 a month.
“This TDOR, my mission is to turn everyone into an advocate. And if they go on to be activists, too? That’s okay, too. We can never have enough until we have equal rights.”
I’m not advocating against attending TDOR commemorations. Google “TDOR” in your neighborhood, and please show up, especially if you’re an ally like my pal, Doug Stewart. We’ll be at the one in Hartford, as before COVID. But before that, and after, let’s make this a day, a week, a lifetime of action.
Call the governors’ offices, and Rep. Greene’s. Call more than once. If it’s convenient, show up there and tell them why you’re taking action to support transgender and nonbinary Americans. Call your state and federal representatives, senators, and mayors. Show up and tell them you support the rights of trans and nonbinary people, and all marginalized groups, for that matter.
Use your privilege. Use your voice. If you have neither, you can still take action via email and mail actual letters. Addresses and phone numbers are all available by Google. I know how encouraged I feel when I gather on TDOR with other trans folx and with allies and when we turn strangers into friends. This TDOR, my mission is to turn everyone into an advocate. And if they go on to be activists, too? That’s okay, too. We can never have enough until we have equal rights.
And once again, there are at least 32 Americans who have lost not only their rights but their lives. If you won’t stand up for the living, will you at least honor the dead by taking action in their name?