Monica Rose, who lives in Toronto, joined Twitter in 2008, just two years after the social media platform's debut, and said it was a "nice little group of friends" at the time.

Rose, a transgender woman, said that most of her community on Twitter were also transgender, and she communicated with prominent transgender activists and followed news about the rapid growth of anti-transgender legislation in the state.

However, she said her attitude toward the platform quickly soured after Musk took over in October 2022; he later renamed it X.

Changes and statements affecting the LGBTQ+ community occurred in waves.

In November, just days after becoming the owner of Twitter, Musk spread false anti-gay rumors about Paul Pelosi, the husband of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, following an attack at the couple's home. In the same month, he reinstated numerous accounts that had been banned by the previous Twitter leadership, often for LGBTQ+ harassment, and began firing employees working on reducing abuses such as misinformation and harassment.

In December, he mocked the use of pronouns and later falsely accused a former gay Twitter employee of supporting child abuse. He also disbanded Twitter's Trust and Safety Council, a group of external consultants focused on combating online abuse.

In April, he quietly lifted the previous ban on intentional use of incorrect pronouns or names for transgender individuals on the site. This practice, known as "misgendering" and "deadnaming," is offensive and often used as tools for online harassment.

Then, on June 2nd, during Pride Month, Musk shared an anti-trans video, which was viewed by over 190 million people. Despite Musk's repeated online attacks on transgender individuals and his June statement, which was later deleted, that he would "actively lobby" for the criminalization of certain aspects of transgender healthcare for minors, Musk occasionally claimed to support transgender people. In 2020, he said, "I absolutely support trans, but all these pronouns are an aesthetic nightmare."

Musk has a transgender daughter who has stated that she does not want to be associated with him "in any way, shape, or form."

Anika Collier Navaroli, a former high-ranking Twitter policy official who helped draft the rules changed by Musk, said Musk appears not to understand that online harassment can lead to real-world harm.

"He's taking us back in time," she said. She left Twitter in 2021 and now serves as a senior fellow at the Columbia University Digital Journalism Center. "The job was about this: we ensure people's safety. When that gets rolled back, we know the consequences of that, which sometimes are a matter of life and death."

Rose said that before Musk acquired the platform, she encountered some hatred toward transgender people on the platform, but Twitter's policies at the time allowed her to report it, and Twitter would often remove it, and she could block people who were harassing her.

According to Rose, after Musk bought the platform, she would report accounts that she believed had previously violated its hate speech policy, but she would receive responses stating that there were no violations, and the accounts would remain active.

"And it would take like four or five months for some of these reports to even get processed," Rose said.

Ultimately, Rose couldn't handle the amount of hatred she encountered and left the platform in July, describing it as a "cesspool."

X's press office responded to an emailed request for comment with an automatic response: "Currently busy, please check back later."

Last year, the LGBTQ+ community, including some of the platform's most popular accounts, left the platform. Elton John, who has over a million followers, announced in December that he would leave due to changes in the policy allowing misinformation.

"All my life, I've tried to use music to bring people together. However, it saddens me to see how misinformation is being used to divide our world," John wrote on December 9th. Since then, he has not posted anything, despite personal outreach from Musk.

A representative for John said he was not available for comment.

Ellen DeGeneres, who held the title of the most retweeted post for many years, has not posted a single post for her 75 million followers in six months, even though she remains active on Instagram. A representative for DeGeneres did not respond to a request for comment on X's current status.

George Han, an actor, writer, and comedian who is gay, is also among those who have distanced themselves from X. He has 292,000 followers on the platform but has gradually stepped back.

"I didn't want to leave 300,000 followers. I worked really hard to get to that number, and this community has been really good to me," he said.

But Musk spreading misinformation about Paul Pelosi was the last straw, Han said, and he shifted his efforts to Threads, a competitor to X, created by Instagram. He has little hope that Musk will change.

"He's not going to wake up and say, 'You know, I've been a jerk here. I should make some changes.' That's not going to happen," he said. "I don't want to create any free content that's going to contribute to this person's business success."

GLAAD, an organization dedicated to LGBTQ+ media advocacy, publishes an annual Social Media Safety Index and Platform Responsibility Index that assesses the policies of social media platforms in ensuring the safety of LGBTQ+ users. In its latest assessment published in June, X ranked last among major social media platforms.

"Over the past year, the safety level for users on X/Twitter has steadily declined—for LGBTQ+ people, for all historically marginalized groups, and for everyone, including brands and advertisers who understandably do not want their ads appearing alongside extremist hate content," a GLAAD representative said in an email.

The representative added that X's current business model prioritizes "monetizing user harassment against other users, high-profile public figures, and members of the general public."

GLAAD characterized Musk's policy changes, including lifting the ban on deliberate misgendering and the use of deadnames, as "increasingly reckless" and stated that Musk consistently amplifies anti-transgender statements, harassment, and misinformation by liking, responding to, and sharing content from "anti-LGBTQ+ hate accounts."

A GLAAD representative said the organization continues to share content on X to "continue to reach and uplift LGBTQ+ people," adding, "Our community remains resilient and creative, and we refuse to be silenced or erased."

Studying what happens on Twitter has become much more challenging for external researchers in the past year after Musk, in May, discontinued free access to the interface that researchers used to gather data.

"Elon effectively shut down all legitimate efforts to measure anything about Twitter," said Jeremy Blackburn, an associate professor of computer science at Binghamton University in New York.

"There is no realistic mechanism for collecting Twitter data at a scale sufficient to measure things like hate and extremism," he said.

While many LGBTQ+ representatives have left X due to Musk's changes, many others have chosen to stay. Alejandra Caraballo, a transgender advocate and clinical instructor at the Harvard Law School Cyberlaw Clinic, said she remains because of the real-world consequences of the increase in hate-inciting content.

She mentioned the account "Libs of TikTok," which has 2.6 million followers and has led an online campaign against children's hospitals that provide support for transgender minors. Hospitals in Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C., and Boston received bomb threats after being accused on the account of "grooming" children or causing them harm, according to The Washington Post.

"Such hate campaigns have real-world consequences when people are threatened with death, bomb threats, stalking, and harassment," Caraballo said. "I've personally received CC'd bomb threat emails primarily targeting schools but also anything related to the LGBTQ+ community. In a way, it's hard to leave because I want to know what's inciting this right now."

While she believes that X has become less safe for the LGBTQ+ community, Caraballo said Musk's permission to spread hateful content has diminished the platform's power.

"Elon Musk, by doing this to Twitter, destroyed its cultural capital," she said. "And so, while he's so heavily weighting the scale towards this far-right, extreme content, because so many people have left, especially prominent people, he doesn't have the weight he used to have, or the influence that he used to have."

Caraballo has not found another platform to fill the void left by X, but Rose has turned to Bluesky, an invite-only website similar to X.

Loree Powell, director of public relations for the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest LGBTQ+ advocacy group, said the organization worked with Twitter before Musk bought it to help develop policies protecting LGBTQ+ people from misgendering, discrimination, and hate incitement. Now, Musk has dismantled the anti-discrimination policy and largely disbanded moderation teams that helped enforce the anti-discrimination and hate incitement policy.

"It was a very helpful platform that had a huge impact on discourse happening in our society, and now all of that is out the window, and they're just not doing their basic duty to protect LGBTQ+ people, LGBTQ+ organizations, people advocating for LGBTQ+ issues, and any number of other marginalized groups," Powell said.