Transphobes Dominate Discussion of Trans Issues on Facebook

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been under fire since his social media platform has become a hotbed of anti-LGBTQ sources.
Reuters/ Erin Scott

Transgender-related content posted by right-wing Facebook pages generate the most reactions, comments, and shares regarding trans people, a Media Matters study revealed, clearly demonstrating the power of transphobic sources to influence public perception of the community.

The study was published less than a year after Gay City News found that Google was propping up anti-LGBTQ news sites like Church Militant and LifeSite News.

The latest study noted that LifeSite News and The Daily Wire posted the most high-performing content about transgender issues compared to any other source on Facebook.

Media Matters evaluated 225 Facebook posts pertaining to trans issues, including articles, blog posts, and videos that generated at least 100,000 Facebook interactions between February 15, 2019 and February 15, 2020. Those content sources received almost 66 million interactions.

Right-leaning sources overwhelmingly drew the greatest share of those interactions, accounting for 43.33 million, or 65.7 percent of the total. By comparison, LGBTQ outlets earned just 15.4 percent of the total interactions, while “nonaligned sources” got 10.4 percent of interactions and “left-leaning” sources made up 3.9 percent. “Other” sources represented 4.6 percent.

The right-wing sources also published the most posts pertaining to trans issues — 126 of the 225 pieces of content, or 56 percent.

Notably, there was barely any room for LGBTQ-inclusive perspectives in the list of top Facebook posts pertaining to trans issues: Nine of the top 10 pieces of content were posted by right-wing sources, including all of the top five pieces,

More specifically, 53 pieces of content related to transgender athletes generated 21.21 million interactions and made up 23.6 percent of the entirety of the 225 pieces of content under consideration for this study. The top-performing post of all, the study noted, was a blog post published by the anti-LGBTQ litigation group Alliance Defending Freedom that attacked transgender athletes.

Among other topics, trans healthcare also drew a great deal of attention from the right. Thirty-three of the 225 pieces of content, or 14.7 percent pertained to medical care for transgender individuals, leading to 10.33 million interactions, and 27 of those 33 pieces came from right-wing pages. A whopping 4.41 million interactions stemmed from a Texas custody battle focused on a trans child whose father does not accept his son’s gender identity, with right-wing sources being the only ones to publish those pieces.

The results of the study surfaced at a time of heightened focus on the growing presence of right-wing groups on social media platforms, like US-based evangelical group Anchored North, which paid for Facebook ads pushing messages that encouraged individuals to “cure” their sexual orientation and issued warnings to queer folks that they would face “eternity in hell,” according to PinkNews.

Those kinds of ads prompted more than 100 non-profit, labor, faith-based, LGBTQ, and advocacy groups associated with the Stop Hate for Profit Campaign to deliver a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg this month demanding that his social media platform stop raking in profits from bigoted advertisers.

Facebook and Instagram announced they would ban the promotion of conversion therapy-related content and would be updating their hate speech policies to expicitly ban posts advertising the practice.

Facebook did not immediately respond to Gay City News’ request for comment about this study.

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