The Oversight Board of Meta, Facebook’s parent company, will be reviewing a controversial anti-transgender post for possible violations of the company’s “Community Standard on Suicide and Self-Injury,” as well as its policy intended to curb hate speech.
The company has invited people and organizations to submit public comments about whether the post should be removed from Facebook.
The offending post appeared on the social media platform in April 2023, courtesy of a Facebook user in Poland. It contains an image of a striped curtain in blue, pink, and white — the colors of the transgender Pride flag. Text overlaying the photo reads, in Polish, “New technology. Curtains that hang themselves.”
Above it are other words in Polish that appear to translate as “spring cleaning,” with a heart text emoticon next to it. Most of the reactions to the post were positive.
The post was reported 12 different times over the course of two months, but Meta’s automated systems did not flag 10 of the complaints due to “low severity and virality scores.” Human reviewers later assessed the remaining two complaints as not violating the Community Standard on Suicide and Self-Injury. None of the reports based on the hate-speech policy were sent for human review, according to the Oversight Board.
Three users appealed the decision to keep the content on Facebook, with one of the original reporters noting that the person who posted the image had previously harassed members of the trans community online and had created a new account after being suspended from Facebook in the past.
Meta subsequently determined the content did violate the hate-speech policy and removed the post.
Given the incendiary nature of the debate, the Board will accept comments from the public as it seeks to clarify the extent of its hate-speech policy, anti-trans harassment policy, and other community standards relating to celebrating suicide as a form of hate speech, and whether the post should have been allowed to remain online as a “legitimate” form of free speech.
Jenni Olson, senior director of social media safety at the LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD, criticized Meta for not enforcing its own policies earlier.
“The post is clearly asserting the horrific sentiment that trans people should kill themselves,” Olson said in a statement. “While Meta eventually removed the post, this case powerfully illuminates highly consequential systemic failures with the company’s moderation practices that have broad implications in relation to all anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ hate content, as well as even larger implications for such coded hate content that is all too common and targets all historically marginalized groups.”
A judge in Oregon has ordered state prison officials to classify a transgender inmate as “vulnerable” and placed her in a single cell, in a wing with no sex offenders, to protect her from abuse at the hands of other inmates.
The prisoner, Zera Lola Zombie, sued the state in 2021, alleging she had been discriminated against based on her gender identity, and had suffered “ongoing harassment” by staff and fellow prisoners at both the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem and at the Two Rivers Correctional Facility in Umatilla, due to her gender presentation.
Zombie has claimed that the state Department of Corrections did not take significant action to stop the harassment and harm to which she was subjected. This includes being sexually harassed and assaulted by her cellmate at the Oregon State Penitentiary — who was serving a 40-year sentence for multiple violent crimes against women — and subsequently, by another cellmate, a sex offender, at Two Rivers.
When she complained about the assaults, and one of her former cellmates was disciplined, she was harassed by other inmates for “snitching,” and repeatedly misgendered by correctional officers, according to The Oregonian.
U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken ordered DOC officials to classify Zombie as a vulnerable person, and allow her to shower or dress in private, and not in front of male prisoners or staff. But she rejected a request to transfer the 39-year-old Zombie to Coffee Creek Correctional Facility, the state’s only women’s prison.
In her ruling, Aiken found it was likely that Zombie had been “subjected to repeated abuse, including sexual assault,” and that prison officials had failed to intervene to prevent further abuse, or offer her counseling, as required by the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act, after Zombie complained of her mistreatment — all in violation of her Eighth Amendment right to be free from “deliberate indifference” to her safety.
“It is not at all clear that, without the court’s intervention, Defendants will refrain from housing Plaintiff in a cell with an inmate known to be a sex offender or that Defendants will designate Plaintiff as a vulnerable inmate will,” Aiken wrote in her ruling. “Plaintiff need not wait for another attack before receiving preventive relief.”
Three North Dakota families with transgender children and a pediatric endocrinologist have filed a lawsuit in state court challenging a law seeking criminalize the provision of gender-affirming treatments to transgender-identifying minors.
Under the law, doctors who prescribe puberty blockers or hormones to transgender minors will be charged with a misdemeanor and can be jailed for up to 360 days and fined $3,000.
But if they prescribe the same treatments to other minors, such as intersex children or those with endocrine disorders, they receive no punishment.
The plaintiffs argue that the health care ban singles out transgender youth for disparate and unequal treatment, and infringes on families’ private lives and the right of parents to make decisions pertaining to the health and raising of their children.
They have asked the court to issue an injunction blocking state authorities from enforcing the law while the lawsuit is argued in the courts, and eventually declare the law unconstitutional.
“The equal protection clause of the North Dakota constitution requires that everyone be treated equally,” Brittany Stewart, a senior staff attorney for the trans advocacy group Gender Justice, which is representing the plaintiffs, told Bismarck-based CBS affiliate KXMB-TV.
“By allowing these treatments to be used for non-transgender kids — and singling out transgender kids specifically to not be able to access that care — we are saying that that is a violation of the equal protection clause of the North Dakota constitution.”
Devon Dolney, the mother of one of the child plaintiffs in the case, said in a statement, “We are standing up for all North Dakota kids and families whose lives have been upended by these politically motivated attacks on our rights, our personal freedom, and our ability to decide for ourselves what’s best for our children.”
A Utah judge granted the state access to the private medical records, including counseling and mental health reports, of two transgender minors suing the state over its ban on transgender athletes.
The two student-athletes and their families sued over the law in May, arguing that the ban is discriminatory, unconstitutional, and overly broad.
They also claim that, because they have received puberty blockers and have not gone through full-fledged male puberty and developed secondary sex characteristics, they do not have a physical advantage over cisgender girls of the same age.
Judge Keith Kelly, of the Third District Court of Salt Lake County — who previously blocked the state from enforcing the law — said the transgender girls’ medical records “go to the issues that are squarely raised in this case.”
He added that “their physical, mental and emotional conditions are all relevant issues” to determining how they’ve been mentally impacted by the ban and whether they’ve suffered harm that would merit overturning the law on its merits.
He said that the information handed over must include both youths’ mental health records going back seven years, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
Kelly also granted state lawyers access to all photos and videos of the trans girls in competitions over the past three years, in response to concerns raised by the Utah Attorney General’s Office that Jane Noe, a 14-year-old swimmer, has won several medals in competitions — underscoring the purpose of the law, which is allegedly to protect cisgender girls from having to compete against athletes with an unfair physiological advantage.
To protect the students’ privacy, Kelly directed lawyers for the state to protect the information and mark the files containing their personal information as confidential and for “attorney’s eyes only.”
Kelly has said he will hear arguments from the state on why the lawsuit should be dismissed on Dec. 7. If he rejects that request, he expects to go to trial and hear arguments on the law’s merits within the next calendar year.
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