June 29, 2023 - 4:30pm

This week, GLAAD called on social media companies to censor open discussion of “gender-affirming care” under the guise of banishing “disinformation”. In an open letter signed by over 250 celebrities and influencers, GLAAD condemned Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and TikTok for spreading “anti-trans hate and malicious disinformation about trans healthcare”.

This disinformation and hate, inadequately moderated on your platforms, plays an outsized role in the sharp increase in real-world anti-transgender targeting and violence,” GLAAD claims, citing last year’s deadly shooting at a gay club in Colorado Springs. (The shooter’s non-binary identity, which threatens to throw a wrench in this particular narrative, doesn’t warrant a mention).

But as reporter Jesse Singal points out, if this censorship policy “were enacted, it would mean that users could get suspended or banned for e.g. publishing the Swedish health authority’s view that ‘the risks of [youth gender medicine] currently outweigh the possible benefits.’” 

There’s also an interesting definition of “disinformation” at work here. “Disinformation”, in this case, refers to information that is accurate but which may lead readers to the “wrong” conclusions. In other words, information that leads readers to question the “safety and necessity” of “gender-affirming healthcare” for youth, such as clear descriptions of what that neat little euphemism actually entails — specifically, experimental suppression of normal human development and double mastectomies for troubled 14-year-olds. 

Thus, Twitter accounts that share unedited promotional videos from children’s gender clinics describing the hormonal and surgical interventions they provide to underage patients become purveyors of “inflammatory disinformation falsely asserting that this healthcare is dangerous”. 

This inconsistency is most evident in the contradictory statements issued by defenders of pharmaceutical and surgical interventions for gender-questioning youth. On the one hand, activists celebrate “top surgery” for “transmasculine boys”, or “TGNB AYA DFAB” (transgender and gender non-binary adolescents and young adults designated female at birth). But on the other hand, breast amputations for adolescent females with psychiatric comorbidities is plain “disinformation”. 

Never mind that these are two ways of describing the same surgical interventions on the same patient population. But the first is ideologically compliant (the reader may or may not understand what “top surgery” for TGNB AYA DFABs means, but they’re likely to conclude it’s safe and necessary), while the second formulation risks leading readers to the “wrong” conclusions. 

GLAAD is more honest about its mission than it is about the controversy over “gender-affirming healthcare” for minors. The organisation describes itself as “changing the culture”, as well as “tackling issues to shape the narrative and provoke dialogue that leads to cultural change”. Sometimes, though, “shaping the narrative” means intervening to remove inconvenient facts from the picture. 

GLAAD’s approach — the shameless exertion of peer pressure in defiance of open dialogue and evidence — is transparent in the press release’s subject line, which is light on substance and packed with endorsements from celebrities and influencers ranging from Laverne Cox and Jamie Lee Curtis to noted trans healthcare experts like Amy Schumer and Ocean Vuong. 

What we see here is a consensus theory of truth that operates across the captured institutions of Genderland. Gender-affirming care is “safe” and “necessary” if enough people insist it is, even if the research suggests otherwise. Anyone who takes a more evidence-based approach risks arriving at the wrong conclusions, and may find herself guilty of spreading “disinformation” and fanning the flames of “anti-trans hate”. 

Every movement must decide what will best serve the cause: sunlight or censorship? Does free and open dialogue help the cause or hinder it? Does informing the public about an issue build support or demolish it? It’s telling that GLAAD has opted for censorship. 

Eliza Mondegreen is a graduate student in psychiatry and the author of Writing Behavior on Substack.