Twitter Blocks Lawmaker's Account for Misgendering First Female Four-Star Admiral in Tweet

Republican Rep. Jim Banks referred to Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Rachel Levine, who is a transgendered woman, as a "man"

Rep. Jim Banks and Rachel Levine
Rep. Jim Banks and Admiral Rachel Levine. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images; Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

Twitter has locked the account of Rep. Jim Banks, a Republican from Indiana, for violating its hateful conduct policy.

Last week, Banks made comments on the social media site about Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Rachel Levine, who on Tuesday became the first-ever female four-star admiral and the nation's first openly transgender four-star officer across any of the eight uniformed services.

In his tweet, Banks misgendered Admiral Levine when he said, "The title of first female four-star officer taken by a man."

"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," Banks also tweeted.

Twitter prohibits "targeting others with repeated slurs, tropes or other content that intends to dehumanize, degrade or reinforce negative or harmful stereotypes," according to a page explaining its policy on hateful conduct. "This includes targeted misgendering or deadnaming of transgender individuals."

A Twitter spokesperson told the Washington Post that Banks must delete the initial tweet to regain access to his account. That first tweet has been removed — though it's unclear if Banks or Twitter deleted it — but the follow-up tweet is still in his feed.

In a tweet to his personal account published two days after he sent the first one, Banks said he's not backing down. "Twitter has suspended my official account for posting a statement of FACT," he wrote.

Levine is not the only public servant who has felt recent push-back over gender identity.

Oklahoma Rep. Maureen Turner, the state's first openly non-binary elected official, has spoken in favor of the Oklahoma State Department of Health's inclusion of a non-binary designation on birth certificates while the governor there condemns it.

"I believe that people are created by God to be male or female. Period," Gov. Kevin Stitt said in a statement last week when the health department issued its first non-binary birth certificate after a legal settlement allowed for the policy change.

"There is no such thing as non-binary sex and I wholeheartedly condemn the purported OSDH court settlement that was entered into by rogue activists who acted without receiving proper approval or oversight," he continued.

Turner, who uses "they/them" pronouns, responded to the governor.

"This statement is real rich in more ways than one. If you are paying attention please notice every time our governor makes a statement it's about a community he hasn't been in communication with & while using his power to further oppress us all," Turner wrote on Twitter, adding in a separate tweet, "As a non-binary [Oklahoman] who has to sit in rooms with these folks who quite literally pretend that I don't exist — I don't expect anything less from them."

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