On Elon's whim, X now treats 'cisgender' as a slur

If you write the words "cis" or "cisgender" on X, you might be served this full-screen message: "This post contains language that may be considered a slur by X and could be used in a harmful manner in violation of our rules," the warning says. You can continue to publish the post or delete it.

Cisgender is an adjective used to refer to people whose gender identity corresponds with their sex assigned at birth. By contrast, the word transgender refers to people whose gender identity is not consistent with their sex assigned at birth.

These terms are commonly used in both social and medical contexts. The Canadian government uses these classifications -- transgender, cisgender and non-binary -- in its census. The American Psychological Association also includes these terms in its glossary.

Since last June, X owner Elon Musk has claimed that the words "cis" and "cisgender" are "considered slurs" on the platform. But only more recently have these words triggered full-screen pop-ups warning users that their post might be a violation of platform rules. According to TechCrunch's testing, this pop-up only seems to appear when using the mobile app. While words like "cis" and "cisgender" are flagged, some slurs targeting Black, transgender and Jewish people can be posted without repercussions.

"Elon Musk has been engaging in this disingenuous and inherently bigoted effort to redefine this term for nearly a year. The list of his hate-driven rhetoric and behavior is too long to even list," a spokesperson for GLAAD, a nonprofit LBGTQ advocacy group, told TechCrunch. "This would appear to be another of Musk’s endless exercises in catering to his new right-wing extremist user base of X — one more coded, but very clear, signal from the company that transgender people are not welcome on the platform, and another strong indicator to advertisers that X is not a safe platform for their brands."

A spokesperson for X did not respond to a request for comment.

Under Musk's ownership, the platform formerly known as Twitter has become actively more hostile to gender-nonconforming people. In November, X ran a "timeline takeover" ad promoting an anti-trans film from PragerU, a conservative media nonprofit that has also been criticized for doubting climate change and downplaying the realities of slavery. Last year, X also removed a policy that was put in place in 2018, which prohibited the targeted deadnaming or misgendering of trans people.