Republican congressman suspended from Twitter for misgendering transgender health official

Jim Banks violates platform’s hateful conduct policy after Rachel Levine sworn in as top health official

Alex Woodward
New York
Sunday 24 October 2021 22:04
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Dr. Rachel Levine Becomes First Openly Transgender Four-Star Admiral

Twitter suspended the official government account for US Rep Jim Banks after he misgendered Dr Rachel Levine, a top secretary with the US Department of Health and Human Services and the nation’s highest-ranking openly transgender official.

Ms Levine was sworn in this week as an admiral of the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. She also is the organisation’s first-ever female four-star admiral.

In a post on the social media platform on 19 October, Mr Banks mocked the news and said her title was “taken by a man”.

Twitter said the comment violated its rules against hateful conduct prohibiting the “targeted misgendering or deadnaming of transgender individuals”. His account was temporarily locked until he deleted the post.

In a statement posted to his personal account on 23 October, Mr Banks said his tweet “was a statement of fact”.

Mr Banks, right-wing media and GOP allies invoked “cancel culture” and drew attention to their 2022 midterm election campaign platforms on “Big Tech” in their opposition to Twitter’s hateful conduct policy.

“Big Tech doesn’t have to agree with me, but they shouldn’t be able to cancel me,” Mr Banks said in a statement. “If they silence me, they will silence you. We can’t allow Big Tech to prevent us from telling the truth.”

In another post that was not flagged by the platform, Mr Banks said “calling someone that was born and lived as a man for 54 years the first ‘female’ four-star officer is an insult to every little girl who dreams of breaking glass ceilings one day”.

Following her swearing-in ceremony on 19 October, Ms Levine said she is “honoured to take this role for the impact I can make and for the historic nature of what it symbolizes”.

“May this appointment today be the first of many more to come,” she said. “Diversity makes us stronger.”

Mr Banks previously made headlines this week when he falsely claimed in an official correspondence to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland that he was a ranking member on the House select committee investigating the 6 January riots at the US Capitol. He is not on the committee.

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