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YouTube demonetizes Candace Owens' anti-trans videos, says misgendering may fall under hateful conduct policy

YouTube is trying to navigate conservative pundits’ increasing focus on LGBTQ people.
Candace Owens on the set of "Candace" in 2022.
Candace Owens on the set of "Candace" in April 2022.Jason Davis / Getty Images file

YouTube said that it demonetized several videos on conservative pundit Candace Owens' channel for violating its monetization policies on hateful and derogatory content, which the company said may apply to instances of misgendering or deadnaming.

YouTube does not publicly list any policy on misgendering but said in a statement that it considers deliberate misgendering as potentially violative of its monetization policy on hateful conduct.

On the Candace Owens Podcast channel Monday, Owens said YouTube gave her “an option to delete every video that I’ve ever done pertaining to gender in which I have accurately gendered someone” — referring to instances in which she’s used pronouns not preferred by trans individuals. Videos in which Owens misgendered individuals were considered “hateful conduct” by YouTube, according to Owens in a segment in the episode titled ‘I Have An Announcement To Make.’ 

Owens’ YouTube censorship claims come amid the ongoing cultural debate on free speech and anti-trans content published by conservative media online.

While YouTube said it did not remove Owens’ videos, Michael Aciman, a Google spokesperson, said that the company blocked ads on “several videos on Candace Owen’s channel for violating our monetization policies, including those against hateful and derogatory content.”  

Under its guidelines on hateful and derogatory content, YouTube may prohibit advertisements from running on a video that “promotes discrimination, disparages, or humiliates an individual or group of people.” Aciman noted this includes disparagement of the LGBTQ community.

In addition, Aciman said that this policy could include enforcement against videos that “may include deliberate deadnaming or misgendering of transgender individuals.”

Previously, YouTube has stated that misgendering is not part of its community guidelines, which dictate what videos can and can't be fully removed. Aciman's statement clarifies, however, that misgendering is a consideration when it comes to the company's decisions around the monetization of videos.

Misgendering individuals can be used as a tool to harass transgender people, and it’s one of the fault lines that have opened in an online culture war that some conservatives like Owens are pursuing against the LGBTQ community.  

Owens told viewers Monday that they might notice videos missing since last Friday, but she did not specify which channel the videos were removed from or how many videos were taken down. 

Despite her claims that YouTube was censoring her videos, many videos in which she debates trans rights and gender identity remain among the more than 1,200 videos on her podcast YouTube channel with 1.67 million subscribers. Some of these videos tagged with hashtags such as #pronouns, #trans and #transgender were available on the site Wednesday.

In a video released in August 2021 on YouTube in which Owens responded to trans activist Serena Daniari, she said the “trans movement represents a caricature of what it means to be a woman.” A video published April 2022 involves Owens reacting to new gender pronouns, while in a different episode released that month, Owens said a mother with a transgender son “mutilated your once perfectly healthy growing son over a feeling that he had.”

A video in which Owens singles out a nonbinary child that was posted to YouTube on May 31 ahead of Pride Month in June is still up. During the episode, Owens referred to the gender of actor Rachelle Lechevre’s nonbinary child as “nonexistent.” 

YouTube’s policy on harassment says it protects against “harmful behavior such as deliberately insulting or shaming minors, threats, bullying, doxxing, or encouraging abusive fan behavior,” YouTube wrote in its community guidelines. The company can remove content that violates its policies on harassment and hate speech. 

“All creators must follow our Community Guidelines, which prohibit content promoting hatred against protected groups, including the LGBTQ+ community,” Aciman said in the statement. 

Speaking about YouTube’s recent actions against her content, Owens said, YouTube was stifling her ability to state the “truth.” Owens maintains a vocal stance against aspects of the transgender rights movement and facets of the LGBTQ community on social media platforms. 

Recently, Owens and the conservative outlet she’s affiliated with, The Daily Wire, have been at the center of numerous controversies surrounding their claims about transgender people and how they are handled by social media platforms.

In her video about her own treatment by YouTube, Owens also accused the company of targeting Matt Walsh’s channel after the release of the documentary “What is a Woman?” starring Walsh. The anti-trans documentary garnered the support of Twitter owner Elon Musk, who wrote “Every parent should watch this” in a thread on Twitter on June 2. Twitter initially moderated the release of the video on the platform, which Musk reversed, leading to the high-profile departure last week of the company’s head of trust and safety, Ella Irwin.

Musk reversed Twitter’s policy banning users from misgendering people on the platform in April, a move that was criticized by LGBTQ advocacy groups, NBC News reported.  

Owens claimed YouTube demonetized Walsh’s channel and was now focusing on her and fellow Daily Wire host Michael Knowles’ respective channels. “I feel that (Walsh) was targeted because he has been hitting out on gender issues.” Owens said on her podcast.  

Following YouTube’s alleged wave of demonetization and pressure to remove certain content, Owens said in her Monday podcast that she would “re-examine my viewpoints on how I talk about this topic and maybe abide by YouTube’s policy fully in a way that allows me to rest my head on the pillow.” She proceeded to display graphic photos of gender reassignment surgeries and play a video from a trans person talking about how she regretted the surgery.