Dr. Rachel Levine Is A Woman. GOP Rep. Jim Banks Is An A-Hole.
Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Rachel Levine made history yet again last week. Tuesday, Dr. Levine was sworn in as an admiral, the highest ranking official of the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. Her appointment to the USPHS Commissioned Corps also made her the organization's first woman four-star admiral.
"[Becoming a four-star officer] is very meaningful to me. I am so impressed by the dedication, the commitment and the expertise of the officers and the United States Public Health Service Commission Corps. And it is truly an honor to lead them and to serve with them," Levine said in an interview with NPR.
Dr. Levine is also the highest ranking openly trans government official in US American history. Decent people would just congratulate Dr. Levine for her achievements, but decent people aren't members of the Republican Party.
During her Senate confirmation hearing, GOP Senator Rand Paul shouted transphobic garbage at her for a while, because that's the sort of thing he does when he's not spreading disinformation about Covid-19. Dr. Levine responded to his rants with science and logic, which is like Kryptonite to a Republican.
Last week, GOP Rep. Jim Banks from Indiana ramped up the hate, tweeting (when he could've just said nothing) that "the title of first female … gets taken by a man." Dr. Levine isn't a man, but Banks cruelly misgenders her anyway. These assholes only care about identity politics when they're diminishing someone else's identity. Republicans have had previous opportunities to appoint a woman of their choosing to this position but didn't. (We haven't checked if Ivanka Trump was ever up for it, like when she was almost head of the World Bank.)
Republicans cynically enjoy playing divide-and-conquer with groups they actively marginalize. So of course they'll pit women against other women. According to them, trans women are either sexual predators stalking women's bathrooms, or they're stealing the acclaim that rightly belongs to those they consider "real" women. It's gross.
We prohibit targeting others with repeated slurs, tropes or other content that intends to dehumanize, degrade or reinforce negative or harmful stereotypes about a protected category. This includes targeted misgendering or deadnaming of transgender individuals.
Naturally, Banks stood by his transphobia and insisted his "tweet was a statement of fact." He's one to talk about facts, when he's tried to pass himself off as "ranking member" of the January 6 committee, which he's not. Banks is confused about his identity and misrepresenting himself. Dr. Levine is not.
Banks further whined about his reasonably deleted tweet:
"My tweet was a statement of fact," he stated. "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. When Republicans take back the House next year, we must restore honesty to our public forums and hold Big Tech accountable."
Republicans have been less than subtle about the hell they plan to unleash on organizations and institutions they don't like once they're in the majority. They're a bunch of gangsters that way.
But for the billionth time, Twitter is a private company that is under no obligation to provide a platform for hate speech. Donald Trump is starting his own social media empire, and Banks can go post transphobic garbage there before the platform goes the way of Trump Steaks and Trump University.
Republicans feel entitled to other people's work product. Rand Paul has whined about Big Tech censorship while also saying a “right to health care" is no different from slavery. Conservatives already have propaganda outlets where they can gleefully spread lies and incite hatred. Twitter doesn't need to help facilitate their bigotry.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."