Twitter has suspended the account of a Republican congressman who posted a tweet noting that President Joe Biden's U.S. Assistant Secretary of Health, Rachel Levine, who identifies as transgender, is a man.
Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., was suspended Saturday after posting a tweet in response to Levine — who went by the name Richard before he began identifying as female — becoming the first trans-identified four-star officer in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.
Banks has been temporarily blocked from using his Twitter account until he agrees to delete the tweet calling Levine a man, according to NBC News.
In the now-deleted tweet posted Tuesday, Banks lamented that “the title of first female four-star officer gets taken by a man.”
Twitter claimed that the tweet violated its hateful conduct policy, which prohibits tweets that engage in “misgendering or deadnaming of transgender individuals.”
For his part, Banks took to his Instagram account to post a statement denouncing the actions of Twitter, saying that the social media site was censoring “a basic truth.”
“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,” he warned.
“We can’t allow Big Tech to prevent us from telling the truth. When Republicans take back the House next year, we must restore honesty to our public forums and hold Big Tech accountable.”
Levine was the previous secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health and was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in March to be assistant secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services in a 52-48 vote.
In a tweet still visible as of Monday morning, Banks criticized the hailing of Levine as the first “female” four-star officer at the corps, arguing that it disrespected biological females.
“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,” tweeted Banks on Oct. 19.
While speaking during the swearing-in ceremony, Levine expressed optimism that there would be more efforts at diversifying the ranks of the corps.
“May this appointment today be the first of many more to come,” stated Levine. “Diversity makes us stronger.”
Banks is not the first person to face repercussions from Twitter for asserting that Levine is a biological male. On Jan. 20, the day of Biden’s inauguration, radio host Michael Brown sent out a tweet asking, “Will I get punished by Twitter for saying that, in God’s sight, ‘Rachel’ Levine (nominated by Biden to be his assistant secretary for HHS) is a man?” Shortly after that, Brown was locked out of his account for 12 hours.
A recent report from a media watchdog reveals that censorship of conservative politicians is not an uncommon phenomenon. The Media Research Center found that censorship of Republican members of Congress outnumbers censorship of Democrats in Congress by a ratio of 54 to 1.