Republican congressman suspended from Twitter for misgendering trans health official Rachel Levine

a side-by-side image of Indiana representative Jim Banks and Dr Rachel Levine

Republican congressman Jim Banks has been suspended from Twitter after he misgendered Dr Rachel Levine, the US assistant secretary of health and the nation’s highest-ranking trans official.

Levine was sworn in last weekas a four-star admiral of the US Public Health and Service Commissioned Corps, making her the first openly trans four-star officer across any of the US uniformed services. She is also the organisation’s first-ever female four-star admiral.

But Banks, a representative for Indiana, mocked Levine’s historic appointment on Twitter, intentionally misgendering her.

“The title of first female four-star officer gets taken by a man,” Banks wrote in a tweet, which Twitter removed for violating its rules.

Twitter’s hateful conduct policy prohibits “targeting others with repeated slurs, tropes or other content that intends to dehumanise, degrade or reinforce negative or harmful stereotypes about a protected category”. This includes “targeting misgendering or deadnames” of trans people.

On his personal account, Banks was defiant about his statements on Twitter and demanded that “Big Tech” be held accountable for suspending his official account.

“Twitter has suspended my official account for posting a statement of FACT,” he said. “I won’t back down.”

He stood by his post about Levine and invoked the tired fear-mongering around ‘cancel culture’ in a further statement about his suspension from Twitter. Banks claimed “Big Tech” didn’t have to agree with him but “shouldn’t be able to cancel me”.

“​​If they silence me, they will silence you,” Banks said. “We can’t allow Big Tech to prevent us from telling the truth.”

Twitter did not flag another anti-trans post on his official account in which he claimed that Levine’s appointment was an “insult to every little girl who dreams of breaking glass ceilings one day”.

“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,” he wrote.

Following her swearing-in ceremony on 19 October, Dr Rachel Levine said she’s honoured to take on the role “for the impact that I can make and for the historic nature of what it symbolises”.

“I stand on the shoulders of those LGBTQ+ individuals who came before me, both those known and unknown,” she stated. “May this appointment today be the first of many more to come as we create a diverse and more inclusive future.”

Banks joins the growing number of Republican politicians who’ve rallied against social media after being suspended or banned from the platform over controversial comments.

Former president Donald Trump was permanently banned from Twitter earlier this year after the platform decided tweets he posted praising armed, extremist rioters at the US capitol amounted to “risk of further incitement of violence”.

In June, he was also banned from his Facebook and Instagram accounts for at least two years “following his praise for people engaged in violence at the Capitol”.

Reviled Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Twitter account has been suspended multiple times after running afoul of the company’s rules. She was temporarily suspended in July for tweets that went against Twitter’s COVID-19 information policy.

Her account was suspended for a week in August for once again breaching Twitter’s policy on misinformation about COVID-19 after she claimed that vaccines are “failing”.