Respect Equality

TikTok bans misgendering, ‘deadnaming’ transgender people

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Story at a glance

  • TikTok on Tuesday said it was strengthening its security policies to foster a more safe and inclusive experience for its users.
  • In updated community guidelines, TikTok for the first time now expressly prohibits anti-LGBTQ+ language, including “deadnaming” and misgendering creators, as well as content related to self-harm, disordered eating and misogyny.
  • LGBTQ+ advocates celebrated TikTok’s policy update, but said there was still much more work to be done to make social media platforms in general a safer place for women, people of color and the LGBTQ+ community.

TikTok on Tuesday said it was cracking down on “hateful” ideologies and practices like “deadnaming” and misgendering that are already prohibited on the video-sharing platform but still run rampant according to complaints from creators.

In updated community guidelines, TikTok said it would be strengthening its security policies to “foster an experience that prioritizes safety, inclusion, and authenticity.” The social media giant said it would take a more hardline approach to prevent content related to self-harm, suicide, eating disorders and misogyny from spreading on the platform. Anti-LGBTQ+ language, including misgendering or deadnaming transgender or nonbinary creators and spreading information supporting conversion therapy practices, will also not be tolerated.

“Though these ideologies have long been prohibited on TikTok, we’ve heard from creators and civil society organizations that it’s important to be explicit in our Community Guidelines,” Cormac Keenan, TikTok’s head of trust and safety, said Tuesday in a statement. “On top of this, we hope our recent feature enabling people to add their pronouns will encourage respectful and inclusive dialogue on our platform.”

The policy update follows criticism from gender and LGBTQ+ advocacy groups like UltraViolet and GLAAD, which have accused leading social media platforms of not doing enough to protect female and LGBTQ+ creators.


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UltraViolet in November penned an open letter signed by more than 75 groups providing policy recommendations to social media companies like TikTok for how they could better support women, people of color and the LGBTQ+ community.

“There was once a time when social media represented revolutionary technology that could increase access to information, encourage empathy and diversity, and advance democracy,” reads a portion of the letter. “Now, your platforms must make a choice between pursuing those worthy ideals or continuing to drown the digital and physical worlds in hate, extremism, disinformation, and violence.”

In a statement following TikTok’s policy update on Tuesday, UltraViolet Communications Director Bridget Todd said the group applauded TikTok’s response to its recommendations.

“TikTok has become a little safer for women, LGBQ and trans people today,” she said, but added that social media platforms in general “have a long way to go across the board.”

Kate Ellis, president and chief executive of GLAAD, in a statement also commended TikTok for updates made to its community guidelines, which for the first time “expressly” prohibit anti-LGBTQ+ language.

“When anti-transgender actions like misgendering or deadnaming, or the promotion of so-called ‘conversion therapy,’ occur on platforms like TikTok, they create an unsafe environment for LGBTQ people online and too often lead to real world harm,” Ellis said.

Deadnaming, or referring to a transgender or nonbinary person by their pre-transition name, can be damaging to a person’s mental health and also poses some serious safety concerns, as trans and gender nonconforming people face elevated rates of violence.

Ellis said the policy update “sends a message” to other platforms that they “should follow suit with substantive actions like these.” In GLAAD’s inaugural Social Media Safety Index published in May, five of the world’s leading social media companies, including TikTok, were deemed “effectively unsafe for LGBTQ users.”

Online harassment is widespread among the LGBTQ+ community, with 64 percent of LGBTQ respondents in a 2021 Anti-Defamation League survey reporting online hate, compared to 46 percent of Muslims, 36 percent of Jewish people, and roughly a third of Black, Latino and Asian American respondents.


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