Twitter suspends GOP congressman for misgendering Dr. Rachel Levine, first trans four-star admiral

Indiana Republican Rep. Jim Banks' attack on Levine follows a similar diss from GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado

By Jon Skolnik

Published October 25, 2021 12:00PM (EDT)

Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Twitter suspended the official account of Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., on Saturday after the Republican misgendered Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Rachel Levine, the nation's first transgender four-star admiral. 

"The title of first female four-star officer gets taken by a man," Banks wrote in a since-deleted tweet. 

Levine was appointed by President Joe Biden and confirmed by the Senate in March. She was made an admiral of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (PHSCC) on Tuesday, prompting many right-wing politicians and pundits to accuse Biden of appeasing the "woke" left. Several outright denied Levine's identity as a woman.

RELATED: Lauren Boebert slammed as a "hateful bigot" by colleague after mocking first trans four-star admiral

Twitter told The Hill on Monday that Banks' account was "temporarily locked for violating our Hateful Conduct Policy. The account owner is required to delete the violative Tweet before regaining access to their account." The tweet is in apparent violation of Twitter's rules against "targeted misgendering or deadnaming of transgender individuals."

In response, Banks stood by his original post, saying that his claim is "a statement of fact."


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"Big Tech doesn't have to agree with me, but they shouldn't be able to cancel me. If they silence me, they will silence you. We can't allow Big Tech to prevent us from telling the truth," the conservative added. 

A horde of right-wingers shortly accused Twitter of "censoring" Banks, echoing the erroneous right-wing notion that conservative voices are systematically censored by Big Tech.

"Twitter is censoring @RepJimBanks for refusing to go along with the Biden administration's performance theater," wrote Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.

"The Taliban is allowed to tweet. But not @RepJimBanks — a United States Congressman and Naval officer," echoed Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio. "Yep. Twitter is favoring terrorists over Americans."

Banks, who has represented Indiana's 3rd congressional district since 2017, is a staunch Trump supporter. He was one of 126 House Republicans to back a lawsuit filed with the Supreme Court baselessly alleging that the 2020 presidential election was marred by widespread voter fraud in President Biden's favor. Following the Capitol riot, Banks threw his support behind the establishment of a bipartisan committee tasked with investigating the insurrection. However, his appointment to the committee, carried out by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., was ultimately struck down by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., over the Republican's past support of Trump's election conspiracy. 

RELATED: McCarthy says Republicans will conduct their own Jan. 6 probe after Pelosi rejects GOP picks

Last week, Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., vice chairman of the January 6 committee, revealed in a House floor speech that Banks had been sending missives to various federal agencies falsely addressing himself as a ranking member of the January 6 committee. He is not even on the committee. 


Jon Skolnik

Jon Skolnik is a staff writer at Salon. His work has appeared in Current Affairs, The Baffler, and The New York Daily News.

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