A fake "gender identity" has begun making the rounds on social media: "Clovergender."
Invented by right-wing trolls to mock transgender and non-binary people, the term purportedly describes adults who identify as children and are also attracted to children, sexually or romantically.
A Facebook page claims "cloversexual" is distinct from pedophilia, however, because "clovergender" people are actually children in adult bodies and should be recognized as such.
There's even a clovergender Twitter profile claiming to promote equality for "children trapped in adult bodies, struggling to live adult lives in a world that doesn't understand them."
Snopes reports that the term first appeared on January 1 in a Reddit thread claiming, "clovergender people are often misunderstood. This gender faces a lot of discrimination, and clovergender groups have one of the highest suicide rates in America."
But Reddit users have captured screenshots from 4chan proving "clovergender" was cooked up by members to mock progressive "social justice warriors" and invalidate actual trans people.
"Unfortunately, there is no known surgery at this time for clovergender individuals," one mock post reads.
The cloverleaf is actually the main logo for 4chan, the image-based platform that spawned both Gamergate and 2014's massive celebrity photo leak. The site has a lengthy history of users trying to trick the media into reporting on fake trends and events: In 2015, 4chan hosted a viral video deceptively claiming to picture Muslim refugees engaged in acts of violence. Members also created fake "white student union" Facebook groups that received mainstream news coverage.
Last year, a group of 4chan users duped many into believing Hillary Clinton wanted to start drafting female soldiers.
Following the creation of "clovergender," scammers discussed ways to make the hoax more believable—and further agitate the LGBT community and its allies—in a a number of threads.
The phrase quickly made its way to social media, propelled by pharma bro Martin Schkreli posting tweets imploring people to "spread clovergender awareness."
Shkreli's Twitter account was actually suspended on Sunday, after he cyber-stalked and harassed Teen Vogue writer Lauren Duca.
But earnest responses from people thinking the hoax is real have already started populating Twitter.
The ultimate goal of the "clovergender" prank is to undermine the validity of actual non-binary identities by suggesting that any kind of behavior—including pedophilia—would be condoned by progressives, as long as its couched as an "identity."
It employs the "slippery slope" argument embraced by bigots who claim that if we allow trans people to use the bathroom that matches their gender, we'll soon be forced to accept child abuse, bestiality and other criminal behavior.
Denigrating LGBT identities as deviant, unfortunately, is not limited to internet trolls: It's par for the course among many Republican legislatures—as new "bathroom bills" pop up in states like Texas and Virginia—and president elect Trumps' cabinet picks: Ben Carson, his pick for Housing and Urban Development, compared same-sex marriage to bestiality and Tom Price, the nominee for Health Secretary, equated homosexuality with pedophilia.
TL/DR: Don't be duped. "Clovergender" isn't real, and anyone arguing for its acceptance is actually a troll trying to undermine the existence of real LGBT identities.
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