LGBTQ suicide prevention org the Trevor Project is leaving Elon Musk’s X for good

One of the most prominent LGBTQ organizations in the U.S. will close its account on X, formerly Twitter.

The Trevor Project announced Thursday that it has decided to end its presence on the platform in light of “increasing hate and vitriol” targeting the queer community on X, which Elon Musk purchased one year ago. The organization is focused on suicide prevention and provides 24/7 counseling for young LGBTQ people struggling with mental health challenges.

The group noted that X’s diminished commitment to moderation informed the decision, contributing to an environment that is “no longer a safe place for LGBTQ young people — the group we exist to serve.”

“While the conversation around the benefits and harms of social media platforms is vast and nuanced, we do know that sophisticated moderation tools are essential to protecting marginalized communities and creating safer, more accepting online spaces,” a Trevor Project spokesperson told TechCrunch.

“The stakes are just too high: 41% of LGBTQ young people seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year–and young people who are transgender, nonbinary, and/or people of color reported higher rates than their peers.”

The Trevor Project notes that online hate has a direct, real-world negative impact on the mental health of LGBTQ young people, which it studies extensively. In making its decision to shutter its presence on X, the mental health nonprofit grappled with how its absence might allow hate to further flourish but ultimately decided against ongoing support for the platform.

“Upon deep analysis, we’ve concluded that suspending our account is the right thing to do,” the Trevor Project wrote in its announcement.

The organization also observed how the “hundreds” of pieces of state legislation targeting the LGBTQ community — particularly transgender and nonbinary young people — are a sign of an increasingly hostile political environment. The result of that discourse across politics and social media platforms “can send the message that LGBTQ people are not deserving of love or respect.”

The Trevor Project will continue to maintain its presence on all other mainstream social networks, including Instagram, TikTok and Facebook.

In the year since Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, the platform now known as X has rolled back many moderation policies, including ones explicitly designed to protect LGBTQ people. In April of this year, X removed its prohibition against deadnaming and misgendering transgender people (using the incorrect name or gender as a form of harassment).

TechCrunch previously reported that the policy change was expected, given Musk’s personal views about the transgender community and his public support for anti-transgender figures like Jordan Peterson. Musk’s personal views have reshaped X’s content moderation policies from his earliest days at the social network’s helm.

“The word ‘cis’ is a heterosexual slur,” Musk tweeted in late October. The term “cisgender” is commonly employed to mean “not transgender,” using a Latin prefix to classify people who identify with the gender they were assigned at birth.

X’s erratic and at times controversial policy changes under Musk have driven other major accounts from the platform over the course of the last year. In April, NPR abandoned its own accounts and their millions of followers after the platform misleadingly affixed the news nonprofit with a “state-affiliated media” label. While NPR receives a sliver of its annual budget through federal funding, the label equated the storied news provider with publications like RT, a propaganda outlet that coordinates editorial coverage with the Russian government.

Under Musk’s leadership, the social media company has also taken aim at organizations that draw attention to the platform’s failure to address hate and harassment. In August, X filed a lawsuit against the Center for Countering Digital Hate, or CCDH, an organization that publishes research into misinformation and hate speech on social media sites. The group has published a number of unflattering reports about X’s unraveling content moderation since Musk’s takeover.

The Trevor Project directly connects its decision to leave with X’s reduced content moderation operations and regressive policy decisions.

“No online space is perfect, but having access to sufficient moderation capabilities is essential to maintaining a safer space for our community,” the organization wrote.