Over the weekend, Twitter locked me out of my account for stating the obvious fact that Rachel Levine, the U.S. assistant secretary for health, is a man. The corporate press, Big Tech, and even the U.S. government all refer to Levine, 64, as a “trans woman.” But this only means he dresses and presents himself as a woman, and asks the rest of the world to indulge him in what amounts to at best a flight of fancy, and at worst a dangerous delusion. And for the most part, the world obliges.
But there is no way around the stubborn fact of Levine’s manhood. He lived the first 54 years of his life as a man, fathered two children with his wife of 25 years, and only decided to “transition” about ten years ago. Twitter has told me it will unlock my account if I delete my offending tweet, but I’m not going to. Rachel Levine is a man, he will always be a man, and I refuse to pretend he’s not.
I’m not the first commentator to get locked out of Twitter for pointing this out. Indeed, my offending tweet was merely linking to a column I wrote last week detailing how Twitter had locked out The Babylon Bee, its Editor in Chief Kyle Mann, its founder Adam Ford, and Charlie Kirk of Turning Point USA, all of whom ran afoul of Twitter’s terms of service for saying Levine is a man. (Actually, Mann got locked out for joking, in response to the Bee’s account getting locked, “Maybe they’ll let us back into our @TheBabylonBee Twitter account if we throw a few thousand Uighurs in a concentration camp.” But you get the point.)
In Twitter-world, saying Levine is a man amounts to “hateful conduct.” As you can well imagine, Twitter’s hateful conduct policy is rather capacious. It isn’t limited to prohibitions on obvious things like violent threats or harassment, or calling for harm to specific groups of people. It also includes, “targeted misgendering or deadnaming of transgender individuals.”
Deadnaming is when you use a person’s given name. For example, before Rachel Levine “transitioned,” his given name was Richard. Misgendering is when you say a trans woman is in fact a man, or a trans man is in fact a woman.
Twitter’s rules have severed all connection to reality and abandoned any sense of compassion. Is it really “hateful” to insist that Levine is a man? Not at all. In fact, it’s far more compassionate than indulging his delusion that he’s really a woman.
Consider any other delusion or mental illness. If you were to tell a woman suffering from anorexia that she really is overweight, and that she really should continue starving herself, that would be cruel, even hateful. The compassionate person would tell her the truth and try to get her the help she needs to break free from her dangerous delusion. You would not have to be especially compassionate, either. You would simply have to understand that if the anorexic woman does not get help, she will die.
So too with trans people, who likewise suffer from a dangerous delusion. Whatever painful things happened in Levine’s life that led him to the conclusion that he is a woman, he needs help. And he needs people to tell him the truth. That is what being compassionate means in his case.
What Levine most certainly doesn’t need is for Twitter, along with the government and academia and corporate America, to affirm his delusion and tell him that his trans identity is healthy, that he really is a woman, that living this way is okay. Levine doesn’t need us to lie to him, to affirm him in his misery and self-negation. He needs us to tell him the truth, and help him accept it and live with it. Anything less than that is hateful and cruel.
Such are the backward ethics of Twitter-world, where telling the truth is considered “hateful conduct,” and those who lie, who affirm dangerous delusions that men can be women and women can be men, are celebrated as tolerant and compassionate truth-tellers.
Some will say, who cares? Twitter is a private company, it can make whatever asinine rules it wants. If you don’t like it, don’t use Twitter.
But companies like Twitter and Facebook have become much more than private social media companies. They are effectively public utilities that control the flow of information in a digital age, and Congress should regulate them as common carriers, barred from censoring users based on the content of their speech or the opinions expressed on their platforms.
In the grand scheme of things, my banishment from Twitter is not very important. Neither, perhaps, is the banishment of the Babylon Bee or Kirk, or even President Donald Trump, who has been permanently banned from Twitter.
But what Twitter has done to us it will eventually do to everyone who dares to tell the truth. Today, Twitter will censor you for telling the truth about trans women. Tomorrow, Twitter will censor you for telling the truth about abortion, or about what’s being taught in public schools, or about election integrity, or about any number of other things. Eventually, companies like Twitter and Facebook will lock out everyone who dissents, depriving them of a voice in the digital public square.
It doesn’t have to be that way, but for now, it is.