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Twitter Suspends Lawmaker's Account Over Trans Tweet

Rep. Jim Banks misgendered the assistant health secretary
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 20, 2021 2:25 AM CDT
Updated Oct 25, 2021 7:52 AM CDT
Lawmaker's Response to Admiral Rachel Levine Is Controversial
In this Feb. 25, 2021, file photo, Rachel Levine, nominated to be an assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services, testifies before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee on Capitol Hill in Washington.   (Caroline Brehman/Pool via AP, File)

(Newser) Update: Twitter has suspended the account of GOP congressman Jim Banks of Indiana after a controversial tweet about a trans government official. Banks deliberately referred to Assistant Secretary of Health Rachel Levine, who identifies as a woman, as a "man." As a result, Twitter on Saturday yanked his account for "violating our Hateful Conduct Policy." The move affects Banks' congressional Twitter account, and Axios notes that he fired back on his still-active personal account. Banks tweeted that he was penalized for posting "a statement of FACT." He added: "I won't back down. ... Big Tech must be held accountable!" Our original story from Oct. 19 follows:

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Rachel Levine, the nation's assistant secretary of health and the first openly transgender person to win Senate confirmation for a federal office, made history again Tuesday when she was sworn in as an admiral of the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, which responds to health crises on the federal government's behalf. That makes her the first openly transgender four-star officer in the US, as well as the first female four-star admiral the corps has ever had, the Washington Post reports. On that last note, Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana had something to say for which he is now in hot water.

"The title of first female four-star officer gets taken by a man," Banks tweeted in response to a tweet from the surgeon general announcing the news. Banks later added, "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." But Ruben Gonzales, executive director of LGBTQ Victory Institute, said those tweets were "an insult to every little girl who dreams of an America where public servants will treat them with respect and judge them by their accomplishments," the Indianapolis Star reports.

Banks, a Trump supporter, was also among the conservatives who recently criticized Pete Buttigieg for taking paternity leave. Meanwhile, other conservatives were similarly unimpressed with the honor bestowed upon Levine, though perhaps not in quite as controversial a way: "Biden gang playing quota politics with public health service" was how Tom Fitten, president of the conservative legal group Judicial Watch, put it. (Read more Rachel Levine stories.)

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