Information provided exclusively to The Federalist shows YouTube removed a Heritage Foundation video featuring testimony from a former transgender-identifying woman for violating the company’s hate speech policy. YouTube confirmed the decision in a Thursday email to The Federalist.
Now Heritage is fighting back with a new video, released first to The Federalist, in which Federalist contributor Walt Heyer doubles down.
“I said that children suffering from gender dysphoria should not be encouraged to try experimental hormones in surgery, and I stand by that statement,” Heyer emphasizes. The seven-minute clip, which Heritage will publish on YouTube, includes footage of Heyer’s remarks from the original panel, with the allegedly hateful six-word violation bleeped like a curse word.
The panel, convened last October, was billed as a “Summit on Protecting Children from Sexualization.” Heyer lived as a transgender-identifying woman for eight years, explaining on his website, SexChangeRegret.org, “I detransitioned more than 25 years ago. I learned the truth: Hormones and surgery may alter appearances, but nothing changes the immutable fact of your sex.”
Heyer now works as an activist against the kind of medical advice that led him astray, contributing, for instance, many pieces to this publication.
“I stand before you with a mutilated body, with a life that was destroyed in many ways, redeemed by Christ certainly, but destroyed because I was affirmed and told how cute I look, how wonderful it was. And went to a gender therapist who said, ‘All you need to do is have hormones and reassignment surgery,” Heyer shared in the Heritage video removed from YouTube, re-uploaded this week with an emphasis on the website’s censorship.
In an email to The Federalist, YouTube passed along a statement that reads, “Our hate speech policy prohibits videos which assert that someone’s sexuality or gender identity is a disease or a mental illness. We quickly remove videos violating our policies when flagged by our users.”
YouTube pointed to a clause in its updated hate speech policy, which the company claims was developed with bipartisan input. The policy prohibits videos which “Claim that individuals or groups are physically or mentally inferior, deficient, or diseased based on any of the attributes noted for the purpose of inciting hatred. This includes statements that one group is less than another, calling them less intelligent, less capable, or damaged.”
The company also pointed to Heyer’s claim in the original video that individuals are “not born transgender. This is a childhood developmental disorder, that adults are perpetrating on our young people today, and our schools are complicit in this.”
Heritage appealed YouTube’s decision. In a phone conversation with Google and YouTube representatives, Heritage Director Emilie Kao argued Heyer’s definition of gender dysphoria was consistent with the definition provided by the DSM-V.
In a statement to The Federalist, Kao said, “There are plenty of YouTube videos on this topic that address gender dysphoria as the American Psychological Association does, which is to classify it as a mental disorder.”
“But,” she added, “YouTube has decided, under the guise of ‘hate speech,’ to censor the viewpoint that it doesn’t like. This won’t help children and families struggling with this disorder who want information from both sides of the debate.”
Heritage Vice President Rob Bluey called the move “another illustration of how the left will stop at nothing to silence conservative voices on sensitive topics like gender dysphoria.”
“Rather than engage in nuanced, good-faith discussions with people who have experienced gender dysphoria, YouTube wants to censor any viewpoint it doesn’t like—even if advocates of transgender ideology say the exact same banned phrase in other videos,” Bluey continued.
More than any major tech platform, YouTube sometimes allows voices shut out of the mainstream media to speak openly on controversial issues, allowing the audience to draw their own conclusions. Much of the company’s success is based on its willingness and ability to host these conversations.
Whether or not YouTube applies its policy unevenly, the language is sufficiently broad and restrictive that it hampers mainstream proponents of one side from fairly participating in the debate. That’s troubling because children’s lives are on the line, and their futures depend on our ability to allow reasonable people to share their experiences in good faith so we can navigate these difficult waters.
As Heritage’s video plainly shows, Heyer has a compelling story to tell. His lived experience should be available as an obviously relevant contribution to the broader discussion. It is certainly not rooted in hate. Those inside YouTube and among its potential critics do everyone a disservice by pushing for hate speech policies that categorize reasonable dissent as intolerable bigotry.
Watch Heritage’s new video below.