Twitter suspends GOP Rep. Banks for misgendering trans health official

Washington-DC

Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., center, and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, left, exchange places at the podium during a news conference after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected the two who were picked by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., for the committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, July 21, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (The Hill) – Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) said Saturday that his official Twitter account had been suspended over a post he made about Department of Health and Human Services assistant secretary for health Rachel Levine, who is transgender.

According to a screenshot posted of the tweet, Banks said “the title of first female four-star officer gets taken by a man,” a reference to Levine, who became the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps’ first openly transgender four-star officer.

“The account referenced has been temporarily locked for violating our Hateful Conduct Policy. The account owner is required to delete the violative Tweet before regaining access to their account,” a Twitter spokesperson told The Hill in a statement. 

According to Twitter’s hateful conduct policy, hateful conduct can include “targeted misgendering or deadnaming of transgender individuals.”

Banks stood by his decision to issue the tweet. In a statement issued through Twitter on Saturday from his personal account, he said, “My tweet was a statement of fact. 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.”

Banks used his Twitter suspension as momentum for Republicans in the 2022 midterms, saying that “when Republicans take back the House next year, we must restore honesty to our public forums and hold Big Tech accountable.”

Banks said he would be posting from his personal account in the meantime.

Some Republicans have alleged that social media companies have sought to unfairly censor conservatives. Earlier this year, former President Trump was booted off several platforms following the Jan. 6 insurrection. Also this year, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed a bill that fines social media companies seeking to ban political candidates on their sites. 

The Hill has reached out to Banks’s office for more information.

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