A Tesla investor with a transgender child challenged billionaire Elon Musk over his jokes about preferred gender pronouns during a Twitter Spaces call for Tesla investors where Musk was a speaker.
Twitter user Earl of FrunkPuppy—whose handle is @28delayslater—said they had a daughter as well as a transgender child who have now expressed "mixed feelings" about owning a Tesla Model X. They said "it's sad" to watch Musk court negative attention over his opinions about "pronouns or something like that."
Their criticisms come as Musk continues to spark outrage for amplifying anti-trans memes and criticism of inclusive policies and practices, aligning himself with the right-wing that has over the last year demonized the LGBTQ+ community and sponsored a wave of anti-trans legislation around the country, much of which has focused on transgender inclusivity in sports.
An unrepetant Musk gave the pettiest response, particularly after he was asked by the event moderator whether he "hates" transgender people.
You can hear their interaction in the video below.
"I'm not going to sort of suppress my views just to boost the stock price... It does bother me that people will use pronouns to just be super judgmental."
"To me feels like a lot of these things are a shield that allow people to be a**holes, like a moral shield that where they just give them an excuse to be an a**hole and that's, that's what that bothers me."
After Earl of FrunkPuppy said Musk's comments demonstrated he is "punching down to a really marginalized group" with his platform as "a really rich popular person" who is "crapping on pronouns," Musk shut the conversation down and asked the moderator to move on to the next question.
The exchange was noteworthy in part because Musk himself has a transgender child who earlier this year was granted a name and gender change after saying in a court filing she doesn't "live with or wish to be related to [her] biological father in any way, shape or form."
Preferred gender pronouns are the correct pronouns for a person and should be used when they are referred to, in order to indicate their gender identity.
It has become increasingly common for people to display their pronouns in the workplace or on social media profiles. Because pronouns are not indicative of a person's sexual orientation, not everyone who shares their pronouns necessarily identifies as LGBTQ+.
Straight, cisgender people often choose to share and display their pronouns to let others, especially LGBTQ+ individuals, know they are in a safe space, especially if their gender identity is often questioned or if they are regularly misgendered.
The use of gender pronouns in the workplace, for instance, helps normalize and encourage discussions about gender in such a way that transgender and non-binary individuals can feel safe and included.
Earl of FrunkPuppy later said they spoke to their transgender child, who praised them for speaking out.
Musk's remarks exposed him to even more criticism amid heightened concerns about his stewardship of Twitter.
Musk's meeting with Tesla investors came after Massachusetts Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren announced she had written a letter inquiring about the harm Musk has caused to Tesla's investors.
Earlier this week, Warren—who has spent her career focusing on consumer protection, equitable economic opportunity and the social safety net—noted Musk is still the chief executive of the automotive company despite recently acquiring the social media platform Twitter.
Warren suggested it is worth investigating whether Musk is "creating conflicts of interest" and "misappropriating company resources" because Tesla "is not Musk's private plaything."
Twitter has been mired in scandal since Musk acquired it in October and criticisms about Musk's content moderation policies and commitment to freedom of speech have raised questions about Musk's capacity to lead. His actions have caused Tesla to lose almost a third of its value since the Twitter acquisition was finalized.
Warren said in her letter to Tesla's board that the board has “failed to meet” its “legal duty” to ensure Musk is not treating the company as his “private plaything.” She pointed out that Musk’s deal to purchase the social media platform gave Tesla $1 billion in yearly interest payments to make, an amount that exceeds its annual cash flow.