Facebook now says it’s “hate speech” to deny that someone’s “gender identity” exists

And users' "gender identity" can be any phrase they choose.


On December 19, 2019, Facebook quietly updated its Community Standards on “hate speech” and prohibited “statements denying existence” based on “gender identity.” Since Facebook users can enter custom gender identities, this update means that denying the existence of a potentially unlimited number of gender identities could now result in a permanent account ban.

Facebook’s December 2019 Community Standards update on hate speech now prohibits “statements denying existence” based on “protected characteristics” such as “gender identity”
Facebook’s December 2019 Community Standards update on hate speech now prohibits “statements denying existence” based on “protected characteristics” such as “gender identity”

In its Community Standards on hate speech, Facebook says that these rules apply to “protected characteristics” which it defines as “race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, caste, sex, gender, gender identity, and serious disease or disability.”

While most of these are immutable characteristics, gender identity is not. Facebook allows users to choose from more than 50 different pre-filled gender identities which include:

  1. Agender
  2. Androgyne
  3. Androgynous
  4. Bigender
  5. Cis
  6. Cisgender
  7. Cis Female
  8. Cis Male
  9. Cis Man
  10. Cis Woman
  11. Cisgender Female
  12. Cisgender Male
  13. Cisgender Man
  14. Cisgender Woman
  15. Female to Male
  16. FTM
  17. Gender Fluid
  18. Gender Nonconforming
  19. Gender Questioning
  20. Gender Variant
  21. Genderqueer
  22. Intersex
  23. Male to Female
  24. MTF
  25. Neither
  26. Neutrois
  27. Non-binary
  28. Other
  29. Pangender
  30. Trans
  31. Trans*
  32. Trans Female
  33. Trans* Female
  34. Trans Male
  35. Trans* Male
  36. Trans Man
  37. Trans* Man
  38. Trans Person
  39. Trans* Person
  40. Trans Woman
  41. Trans* Woman
  42. Transfeminine
  43. Transgender
  44. Transgender Female
  45. Transgender Male
  46. Transgender Man
  47. Transgender Person
  48. Transgender Woman
  49. Transmasculine
  50. Transsexual
  51. Transsexual Female
  52. Transsexual Male
  53. Transsexual Man
  54. Transsexual Person
  55. Transsexual Woman
  56. Two-Spirit

If users aren’t happy with these 50+ gender identity options, they can also enter their own and identify as anything they want.

Facebook users can create an unlimited number of gender identities but saying any of them don’t exist is now considered hate speech

Facebook users can create an unlimited number of gender identities but saying any of them don’t exist is now considered hate speech
Facebook users can create an unlimited number of gender identities but saying any of them don’t exist is now considered hate speech

Facebook doesn’t outline specific punishments for saying a gender identity doesn’t exist but its Community Standards say punishments can range from a warning to an outright ban:

“The consequences for violating our Community Standards vary depending on the severity of the violation and the person's history on the platform. For instance, we may warn someone for a first violation, but if they continue to violate our policies, we may restrict their ability to post on Facebook or disable their profile. We also may notify law enforcement when we believe there is a genuine risk of physical harm or a direct threat to public safety.”

One of the main impacts of this policy is likely to be that statements in support of biological sex could get users banned from Facebook. For example, statements such as “men cannot change into women” could be perceived as denying the existence of someone’s gender identity.

People who say that biological sex is real, or joke about transgender people are increasingly being maligned by both big tech platforms and outraged users.

When comedian Ricky Gervais responded to a “trans woman” parody account with a joke, he was accused of “veiling” his transphobia in satire and journalists even contacted the Golden Globes in what appeared to be an attempt to get him deplatformed from hosting the event.

Twitter also bans users for “misgendering” transgender people with feminist journalist Meghan Murphy being banned under this policy in 2018.

While the censorship of people who say biological sex is real is one of the most likely outcomes of this Community Standards update, it could reach even further. Because Facebook allows people to choose any gender identity, people could also potentially have their account terminated for saying that dragons, unicorns, or anything else that someone writes in their gender identity box isn’t real.


Tom Parker

Tom Parker is a head contributor for Reclaim The Net and provides news and analysis on how we can promote free speech, stop censorship, and protect our personal data online. [email protected]