Is Virgin Active Leaving X Over Transphobic Changeroom Backlash?


There is speculation that Virgin Active South Africa’s decision to leave the X platform is due to the toxic backlash against its trans-inclusive changeroom policy.

In a post on X this week, in the form of a cheeky “breakup” message, Virgin Active said that X, formerly known as Twitter, had changed from a “sharp, witty & playful” social platform “into a seething, malignant cesspool over time.”

The company asserted: “We want our community to feel safe, healthy and positive, and you prefer drama, conflict and negativity. So, we will be ending this toxic situationship on 30 June…”

Virgin Active encouraged its followers to join them on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and LinkedIn, telling X that “It’s not us, it’s you.”

Overwhelming Toxicity and Hate

While the issue was not specifically mentioned, many speculated that the move was in response to the furore in April when the company confirmed that members “who have transitioned and updated their identification documents” could use changing rooms that “align with their gender identity.”

The move sparked a transphobic response from X users who accused the company of putting women and children in danger; perpetuating a widespread narrative that paints transgender people as predators.

Many chose to invalidate, dehumanise, and vilify transgender women’s identity, essentially asserting that trans women are men “pretending” to be women. Some even threatened violence, with one individual tweeting: “If any man shows up in my daughter’s changing room, he will be transitioned.”

The overwhelming toxicity was again evident in the reaction to Virgin Active’s post announcing its intention to leave the X platform, with many accusing the company of “running away” from the issue.

“You clearly don’t want safety for your community, otherwise you wouldn’t have insisted on allowing men in the women’s bathroom. Good riddance!” said one person.

Another tweeted, “No fam. It’s not X, it’s you. In South Africa, you are now allowing males to enter women’s bathrooms. Sorry we don’t do that here. A man is a man and a woman is a woman. No operation changes that.”

X Accused of Fuelling Trans Fearmongering 

A 2018 American study found that laws allowing transgender people to use bathrooms that align with their gender identity are “not related to the number or frequency of criminal incidents in these spaces.”

Additionally, the study found that “reports of privacy and safety violations in public restrooms, locker rooms, and changing rooms associated with inclusive spaces are exceedingly rare” and that “fears of increased safety and privacy violations as a result of nondiscrimination laws are not empirically grounded.”

The transphobic comments and memes posted in response to Virgin Active’s latest announcement only serve to further illustrate the reasons behind the company’s decision to leave the platform.

X has increasingly come under fire for failing to take action against hateful speech, most significantly since Elon Musk took over the platform, often failing to uphold its own guidelines and community standards. Several leading companies stopped advertising on the platform over these concerns. 

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