This Twitter Bot Is Battling Caitlyn Jenner Transphobia in a Genius Way
On Monday, Caitlyn Jenner, formerly known as Bruce, made her debut as the woman she's always been on a knockout Vanity Fair cover.
Out of honest confusion or willful ignorance, many people and brands — from the Associated Press to commenters on Twitter — are referring to Jenner as "he," even though she has explicitly chosen to be identified with female pronouns. It's a common problem known as "misgendering."
Luckily, there's now an online robot to catch you from slipping. An automatic Twitter bot called @she_not_he is scrubbing Twitter, looking for anyone who uses the "he" pronoun in conjunction with Caitlyn Jenner's name, then giving them a friendly course correction:
"Misgendering may seem like a small thing, but it goes to the heart of an individual's gender identity and to our greater cultural understanding of gender," the bot's developer, who requested to remain anonymous, told Mic. "A bot seemed like a polite, quiet way to remind people of that."
The bot isn't completely infallible. While looking for all mentions of Jenner's name with the word "he," it's catching users who criticized people who misgendered Caitlyn.
But overall, the bot is making a small impact. "A lot of people have been very gracious and apologetic in their replies to the bot," said the developer. "Some have even deleted their original tweets. It gives me some hope that the misgendering is just ignorance, not prejudice or anything malicious."
Twitter has lit up with support for Caitlyn Jenner. Family, fellow celebs and major news outlets are sharing the Vanity Fair cover and offering congratulations. But what matters most is what Jenner posted on her own account, which is currently on track to break President Barack Obama's record for fastest Twitter account to reach 1 million followers.