YouTube is helping right-wing propaganda network PragerU fundraise off of a November 16 video that attacks and misgenders trans athletes. The video has raised over $19,000 for PragerU using the YouTube Giving program -- which says that nonprofits must follow YouTube’s Community Guidelines that supposedly protect trans people -- and has earned over 175,000 views in just one day on YouTube.
The five-minute video, titled “The End of Women’s Sports,” on PragerU’s YouTube channel features extreme anti-LGBTQ group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) client Selina Soule, who repeatedly misgenders trans athletes, calling them “biological boys who said they were transgender girls” and suggesting that they are not “actual girls.”
Notably, ADF has sponsored the video. Earlier this year, ADF sued the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference on behalf of Soule and two other high school athletes in an attempt to ban trans athletes from competing on teams that match their gender identity.
YouTube’s hate speech policies prohibit discrimination based on gender identity
In its FAQ, YouTube Giving says that in order to be eligible for the program, nonprofits must “follow YouTube’s monetization policies both on and off of YouTube. This includes following YouTube’s Community Guidelines.” Those guidelines include a hate speech policy that states that the platform will “remove content promoting violence or hatred against individuals or groups” based on attributes including sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex or gender, as well as race, ethnicity, and immigration status.
The guideline cites examples of content that violates the policy, including videos that “allege the superiority of a group over those with any of the attributes noted above to justify violence, discrimination, segregation, or exclusion,” and videos that “allege the superiority of a group over those with any of the attributes noted above to justify violence, discrimination, segregation, or exclusion.”
PragerU’s page is filled with videos that do just this, including one that said that European countries taking in refugees from the Middle East and North Africa was a form of “suicide, the self-annihilation of a culture,” and another that features racist depictions of indigenous people. In fact, the video about trans athletes says that “YouTube restricts over 200 PragerU videos” next to the “Donate” button, as does a petition on PragerU’s site.
YouTube has flagged PragerU videos as “inappropriate” before for violating its community standards, and in February, the group lost a lawsuit against YouTube for doing so. These videos reportedly included those with titles such as “Are 1 in 5 Women Raped at College?" and “Why Isn't Communism as Hated as Nazism?"
Despite the November 16 video’s anti-trans rhetoric and PragerU’s history of running afoul of community guidelines, YouTube is allowing PragerU to fundraise off of the anti-trans video.
Throughout the video, Soule misgendered trans athletes, calling them “biological boys,” and “males competing against females.” Misgendering is the act of referring to someone “as a gender other than one that a person identifies with,” and is a form of harassment that unduly stigmatizes trans people and goes against journalistic standards.
Soule also said that trans athletes are taking awards, scholarships, and opportunities from girls. She said, “Right now, biological boys are being allowed to set records on the girls’ team, deleting girls’ records, erasing the achievements of actual girls, and setting a standard probably no girl can meet no matter how much she trains or how hard she tries.” While right-wing media focus on a handful of cases of trans athletes winning, such as those who competed against Soule, they ignore the majority of trans athletes who compete and do not win.
Earlier this year, Facebook removed several political ads for making similar claims that trans athletes would “destroy girls sports,” which PolitiFact said was “missing context and could mislead people.”
PragerU is following a trend of right-wing attacks targeting trans athletes
Trans athletes are a frequent target for anti-LGBTQ media and groups, which regularly use stories about trans athletes as fodder to earn social engagement and build outrage. This tactic has been successful in making trans athletes a dominant topic in the conversation around trans rights, particularly online. A Media Matters study of trans-related content earning more than 100,000 Facebook interactions found that nearly 24% of that content was from right-leaning sources about trans athletes. This obfuscates other issues that affect the trans community such as violence and discrimination.
Soule has frequently appeared in right-wing media to further this narrative. She’s been interviewed on Fox News several times, including on Tucker Carlson Tonight and The Ingraham Angle, and she has been highlighted on right-wing sites including The Daily Wire and The Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal.