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YouTube Reprimands Anti-Trans Activist But Leaves His Videos Up

Elliot Page and Jordan Peterson
Elliot Page and Jordan Peterson

Jordan Peterson deadnamed and misgendered Elliot Page and likened gender-affirming care to Nazi experimentation.

YouTube has stopped serving ads on two videos posted by anti-transgender activist Jordan Peterson in which he deadnamed misgendered Elliot Page and attacked gender-affirming care as Nazi-like, meaning Peterson won't earn money from the videos.

However, YouTube continues to allow ads on other videos posted by Peterson, reports Axios, which was the first outlet to cover the story. Peterson is a clinical psychologist in Canada and a professor emeritus at the University of Toronto; he often expresses anti-LGBTQ+ and specifically anti-trans views.

In one video, posted July 1, Peterson objected to Twitter's suspension of his account because of a tweet he posted during Pride Month in which he said, "Remember when pride was a sin?" and deadnamed and misgendered Page, the well-known trans actor. He claimed not to know what exactly about his tweet violated Twitter's rules, and he said he would "rather die" than delete it, which was a requirement for reinstatement to the platform. He also denounced gender-affirming health care and called trans identity "a viciously harmful fad."

In the other video, from July 15, he went even further, calling gender-affirming care "the literal sacrifice of children to false gods" and saying that the provision of such care is "ghoulish" and "fiendish." He continued, "It's not just wrong. It's Auschwitz and gulag-level wrong. It's Nazi medical experiment-level wrong."

Gender-affirming health care is endorsed by every major medical organization, including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Psychiatric Association. For people under 18, it usually consists of puberty blockers and hormone treatment; genital surgery, which Peterson appeared to be referring to, is not recommended for minors.

"We set a high bar for what videos can make money on YouTube," company officials told Axios. Many videos that are allowed on YouTube are not eligible to monetize because they do not meet our ad-friendly guidelines." The YouTube statement added that these two Peterson videos "violate our advertising policies around hateful and derogatory content, and have been demonetized."

YouTube bans content that contains "prolonged name calling or malicious insults based on intrinsic attributes, including sexual orientation or gender identity," but it doesn't consider misgendering a violation of that policy. The company is reviewing that, officials told Axios.

GLAAD issued a statement saying YouTube hasn't gone far enough. "In demonetizing these two videos, YouTube is confirming that Jordan Peterson's hate-driven anti-trans rhetoric is in violation of the platform's community guidelines," a GLAAD spokesperson said. "However, in only demonetizing rather than removing the videos YouTube is failing to truly enforce its own Hate speech policy which asserts: 'We remove content promoting violence or hatred against individuals or groups based on ... gender identity and expression.' It is shameful that these videos remain active, with millions of views, continuing to perpetuate hateful and false narratives at the expense of trans people everywhere. At a time when such rhetoric on YouTube and elsewhere is leading to real-world increases in anti-trans harassment, discrimination, and laws that harm trans people, YouTube's small action to merely demonetize these two videos, rather than remove them, just shows how much more the company needs to do to protect trans lives."

In GLAAD's second annual Social Media Safety Index, released in July, YouTube scored only 45 out of a possible 100, and GLAAD said it needed to do more to protect LGBTQ+ users. The other social media platforms evaluated -- Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok -- all scored under 50.

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