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 Making the Case with Mario Fratto/YouTube/Screenshot

(LifeSiteNews) — A former New York Republican congressional candidate says he was barred from using his Twitter account after he posted a meme suggesting that people who think they are a gender other than male or female suffer from a mental illness. He said the censorship indicates Twitter’s draconian rules aren’t much different under the new leadership of “free speech absolutist” Elon Musk.

Mario Fratto, 38, ran for Congress in 2022 in New York’s 24th Congressional District. He told Fox News Digital on Monday that he decided to run for office after he was censored on YouTube for posting a video challenging White House COVID czar Dr. Anthony Fauci.

“It’s like Twitter was my only safe space, basically,” Fratto said, adding that he had hoped free speech would get an even longer leash on Twitter after billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk took it over late last year. 

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Despite the new ownership, though, Fratto said he was locked out of his account on Musk’s Twitter for posting a meme February 9 that depicted the “gender spectrum” as male or female, with any variations from the biological binary deemed a symptom of “mental illness.”

“The new Twitter is feeling very much like the old Twitter,” he told Fox, explaining that he doesn’t want to take down the post to regain access to his account because “I just feel like I’d be compromising my principles.”

Fratto, who stated on his campaign site that it’s “time for us to stand up to the radical left and fight for our values”, added he doesn’t believe the post was “hateful”, but rather “an honest statement of fact, which also is a personal belief.”

It’s unclear whether Musk is aware of Fratto’s lock-out. 

The new Twitter CEO has previously worked to reverse bans on users who expressed controversial opinions, and overseen the “Twitter Files” drops revealing a system of shadow-banning.

He has famously unbanned high-profile accounts that had been shut down for alleged “hate speech,” including the the Babylon Bee, Dr. Jordan Peterson, and former U.S. President Donald Trump.

In his remarks to Fox, Fratto noted that Musk previously responded to one of Fratto’s own tweets, agreeing that the College of Psychologists of Ontario’s decision to attempt to force Jordan Peterson to undergo a form of social media re-education could be likened to the compelled speech exemplified in science fiction writer George Orwell’s famous work “1984.” 

Fratto told the outlet that his own censorship on Twitter was also “like 1984.” 

RELATED: George Orwell’s ‘1984’ is so apt for our times, it’s surprising it hasn’t already been banned

“We’re literally pretending that certain people are certain things and if you don’t hold that belief, you’re considered hateful or a bigot,” he said, referring to the social pressure to “affirm” divergent “gender identities.”

“It’s just bizarre to me,” he said. “Because obviously I think it’s a very valid opinion, and I wasn’t encouraging violence or hate or anything.”