Social media divided on Twitter's ban of misgendering and deadnaming

A viral tweet highlighting Twitter's decision to allow users to report targeted misgendering and deadnaming has been praised by some and struck a chord with others accusing the site of attacking free speech.

On Saturday, Twitter user @trgrrl posted a screenshot of the social media company's terms of service, claiming that repeated misgendering or deadnaming was now a reportable offence on the site, which could lead to account suspension.

According to LGBTQ news site Pink News, the changes went largely unnoticed in late October, but only gained attention after the tweet went viral with users divided over the social media site's decision.

The term misgendering refers to addressing someone with a word that does not correctly reflect the gender for which they identify and is often used as a form of discrimination against transgender people.

Similarly, deadnaming means to repeatedly use the name given to an individual before they changed their sex or began identifying as a different gender.

Twitter's terms of services says the site doesn't allow targeting individuals with slurs or content that "intends to dehumanise, degrade or reinforce negative or harmful stereotypes about a protected category".

The company specifically notes "targeted misgendering or deadnaming of transgender individuals" as an example of such actions.

Under such a policy, Twitter says it retains the right to take action against individuals who commit such practises, including asking the offender to remove the content, not allowing them to tweet, or permanent account suspension.

Many welcomed the news, saying it was time social media sites started to police their platforms and stamp out hate.

"We can finally start reporting the blatant transophobes who misgender us on purpose," said @Yukaiira.

The terms of service note free expression as a human right and something the company wanted to enable.

But some responding to news of the ban on misgendering and deadnaming suggested freedom of speech could be in peril by the decision.

"Every day we stray further away from free speech and the truth," said one user, while another said they hoped users wouldn't be banned if they accidentally referred to someone's gender incorrectly.

Some were concerned the site was only specifying misgendering and deadnaming for positive attention and wouldn't actually enforce the policy.

Twitter states that if people experience abuse on the site, it can also jeopardise their ability to express themselves.

In September, Twitter set out to create new policies to address "dehumanising language".

Groups most targeted according to Twitter include women, people of colour, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, asexual individuals, and marginalised or underrepresented members of society.

"We prohibit behaviour that targets individuals with abuse based on protected category," says the site.

According to the National Center for Transgender Equality's 2015 US Trans Survey, only 11 percent of people surveyed have their gender listed on government identification documents.

Forty-six percent of respondents had experienced verbal harassment due to their identity and 9 percent had been assaulted.

Twitter has been contacted for comment.