Metro Weekly

Instagram’s “Supreme Court” to Review Transgender Nudity Rules

Review follows removal of a non-binary couple’s photo for showing a bare chest in a post celebrating "top surgery."

Main image – Bagus Hernawan, via Unsplash; Image on phone – Aiden Craver, via Unsplash.

Instagram’s highest review board, often referred to as the social media platform’s “Supreme Court,” will review transgender nudity guidelines after repeated complaints from transgender and nonbinary users that their posts were being removed for nudity.

Instagram’s Oversight Board will review a case involving a nonbinary couple who posted a photo removed for violating Instagram’s nudity policy. The post in question is a photo of a topless couple celebrating that one of the two is receiving “top surgery,” referring to mastectomies or procedures that reduce breasts, reports The Telegraph.

The post in question was initially flagged and labeled as “pornographic” by the platform’s automated moderation technology, which then “blocked” the post from view. The decision was appealed by the couple, with the picture being re-uploaded, only to be blocked again.

Meta, the parent company of social media giants Instagram and Facebook, has a policy prohibiting nudity or breasts being shown except in limited circumstances dealing with medical or health situations, such as posts referencing breast-feeding, childbirth, breast cancer surgery, and gender confirmation surgery. But transgender people have complained for years that their posts — even though they allegedly meet the criteria for exemption from the policy — have been censored and accused of being “pornographic.”

The case of the couple in question is being used to establish precedent regarding the application of Instagram’s policy to transgender individuals. The couple hails from the United States, and has claimed that they posted the initial shirtless photo to “boost awareness of transgender health issues” and “raise money to pay for the [top] surgery.”

The Oversight Board that will review the policy is composed of lawyers, journalists, and academics who rule on controversial content on the platform. 

In a statement regarding the post and implications of any potential policy shift for transgender users, the board explained the post and need to evaluate the situation. 

“The couple expressed confusion about how their content violated Meta’s policies,” the statement reads. “They explain the breasts in the photos are not those of women and that it is important that transgender bodies are not censored.”

The statement continued, explaining that Meta will reevaluate how its current policies “respect the rights of trans and non-binary users,” and whether an exception regarding “gender confirmation surgery” should be allowed.

The controversy over the platform’s nudity policy comes mere weeks after media watchdog Media Matters found swaths of hateful anti-LGBTQ content increased on Instagram during the pride month of June, despite Meta’s policies that purport to forbid certain forms of “hate speech.”

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