Twitter has suspended the congressional account of U.S. Rep. Jim Banks after he purposefully misgendered Dr. Rachel Levine, the top transgender federal government official.
Levine, assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services, last week became a four-star admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. She is the first woman and the first out trans person to achieve that rank.
However, Banks, a Republican from Indiana, tweeted that “the title of first female four-star officer gets taken by a man.” In a follow-up, he wrote, “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.”
At least one of Banks’s tweets violated Twitter’s hateful conduct policy, a Twitter spokesperson told several national media outlets, and he must take it down in order to have his account unlocked. “The tweet is no longer published on Banks’s account, but it’s unclear whether he or Twitter removed it,” The Washington Post reports.
Banks has remained defiant, posting on his personal Twitter account that he was merely stating a fact. He said he will stick to posting on his personal account for now.
Twitter’s hateful conduct policy prohibits “targeted misgendering or deadnaming of transgender individuals,” among other forms of hateful speech.
Levine has not responded publicly to Banks’s tweets. The former secretary of health for Pennsylvania, she is the first out trans person to serve in a Senate-confirmed position and the highest-ranking one ever in the federal government. Upon receiving the four-star designation last week, she said, “This is a momentous occasion, and I am both humbled and pleased to take this role for the impact I can make, and for the historic nature of what it symbolizes. May this appointment be the first of many like it as we create a more inclusive future.”
Banks is in his third term in the U.S. House of Representatives. For his first two terms, he has a zero score on LGBTQ+ issues on the Human Rights Campaign’s Congressional Scorecard, while he has received awards from the anti-LGBTQ+ Family Research Council “for his 100% pro-life, pro-family voting record,” according to his congressional website.
Although he portrays his misgendering of Levine as a defense of women, he has a poor record on issues that primarily affect women, having voted against bills including the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2021 and the Equal Access to Contraception for Veterans Act.
Some other far-right Republicans have misgendered Levine as well. U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia tweeted last week that Levine “isn’t the first female anything,” but her account was not suspended, the Post reports. Twitter did put a warning label on Greene’s tweet, and it has suspended her account on other occasions.