New report identifies key themes in dangerous speech targeting trans people in the U.S.

As the 2024 United States election approaches, speech that can move people toward accepting violence – dangerous speech – is flourishing, and with it, a growing possibility of intergroup violence. Transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming people have become primary targets of such speech. Influential politicians, media figures, and religious leaders are falsely portraying transgender people as threats to children, cisgender women, families, traditional values, and public safety. 

Working with a team of research fellows, we at the Dangerous Speech Project are collecting and analyzing examples of dangerous speech targeting trans people, among other groups, as part of a comprehensive approach to monitoring and countering harmful election-related speech in the U.S. 

In this special report, researchers Niko Shahbazian and Cathy Buerger demonstrate that dangerous speech aimed at trans people often falsely claims that they pose a threat to children, or frames them as being a danger to the moral character of the nation (claims that are often cast in religious language). Specifically, we have identified the following prominent narratives targeting the trans community in contemporary political discourse: 

  1. Speech that denies trans people’s identity or dehumanizes them

Describing trans people as non-human helps speakers to persuade their audiences to commit violence, by making their targets’ suffering less significant, or even necessary.

  1. Groundless claims that trans people are a threat to women and children

Baseless claims that all trans people are pedophiles and “groomers” – a term that refers to people who try to brainwash kids to make them vulnerable to sexual abuse – come from decades of homophobic messaging.

  1. Framing trans issues as part of a larger battle over “American” morality and/or culture

Online anti-trans commentary overstates the amount of power trans people have over American culture and discourse. People on “the left” are framed as the real threat, which creates a dangerous call to action against supporters of causes like gender-affirming health care, abortion, and immigration.

For more details, including examples of these types of dangerous speech, read the full report.

And learn more about our election research project at

The Dangerous Speech Project is a team of experts on how speech leads to violence. We use our research to advise internet companies, governments, and civil society on how to anticipate, minimize, and respond to harmful discourse in ways that prevent violence while also protecting freedom of expression.