Since November 27, Meta has earned over $1.6 million from ads The Daily Wire has run to promote its first feature-length “comedy,” Lady Ballers, a movie pushing anti-trans rhetoric about women’s sports. Meta has a record of failing to adequately moderate anti-LGBTQ content and has profited from anti-trans Daily Wire ads in the past, earning over $5 million on such ads from June 2018 to March 2023.
Lady Ballers was written, produced, and largely headlined by personalities from the right-wing media company The Daily Wire, and it features cameos from former college swimmer turned anti-trans activist Riley Gaines and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). Advertising for the film claims that it “mocks the recent and controversial phenomenon of men competing in women’s sports'' — a “phenomenon” that the company’s co-founder Ben Shaprio has admitted is not real.
The fictional movie centers on a has-been men's basketball coach who convinces his former team to pose as trans women in order to participate in a women’s basketball league, which they then dominate. While Lady Ballers attempts to mock trans women athletes, it's been noted that the film ends up promoting misogyny toward cis women as well and is “focused on belittling women in sports and women in general.”
The film is overtly anti-trans, as shown in moments like one toward the end in which a player attempts to come out as trans to his coach. In response to the revelation, Daily Wire CEO Jeremy Boreing’s character tells him he is not a woman but “a lost man in a lost world with shitty parents and a real shitty coach who’ve all gone along with this lie instead of just hurting your feelings and telling you the truth” before hitting the player in the crotch.
What’s more, The Daily Wire reportedly used deceptive recruitment tactics to try to trick people into participating in the anti-trans film, as it has also done for past projects like Matt Walsh’s film What Is A Woman?
Meta has earned over $1.6 million since November 27 on ads for anti-trans film Lady Ballers
Since November 27, The Daily Wire has spent over $1.6 million on 183 ads promoting Lady Ballers on Facebook and Instagram, according to a Media Matters analysis of Meta’s ad library. These ads, which have been run from the Daily Wire and DailyWire+ accounts, have garnered at least 55.4 million impressions.
At least 150 of the 183 ads included clips of the movie, including some of the characters posing as trans women and violently harming cis women and girls while participating in sports.
Ads with these clips appear to be a violation of Meta’s policies against hate speech, which prohibit “mocking people on the basis of their Protected Characteristics” including “gender identity,” and its advertising standards, which ban ads attacking “people on the basis of what we call protected characteristics.” However, the social media company has historically struggled with enforcement of these policies around anti-LGBTQ content.
Lady Ballers is just the latest installment in The Daily Wire’s extreme anti-trans crusade
This film is just the latest in a series of anti-trans projects and rhetoric from The Daily Wire in the last few years. Media Matters previously reported that the outlet spent over $5.7 million on Meta ads amplifying anti-trans content and rhetoric between June 2018 and March 2023.
In March, Daily Wire host Michael Knowles stated at the 2023 Conservative Political Action Conference that “transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely — the whole preposterous ideology at every level.” He has also claimed that “transgenderism” is “a fraud,” that “you have no right to fraud,” and that trans people just “need to be normal.”
Others at The Daily Wire also have a history of bigotry against LGBTQ people. Candace Owens has referred to the “trans agenda” as “demonic” and blamed “homosexual men” for pedophilia in the Catholic Church. Matt Walsh has said he would “rather be dead” than have a trans child and has blamed trans murder victims, saying that they engage in “high-risk activities more than average.”
The Daily Wire’s anti-trans crusade has been part of an increase in anti-trans rhetoric from right-wing media and Republican politicians, while right-wing legislators have simultaneously targeted trans rights.