Former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event at the South Carolina Statehouse, Jan. 28, 2023, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
Former president Donald Trump says that one of his top priorities if he’s re-elected in 2024 will be a sweeping federal rollback of transgender rights.
His proposed plans hinge on harmful anti-trans myths often touted by the far-right, and appear to be part of an effort to out-do Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a likely opponent for the 2024 presidential nomination. Last week, Trump proposed an education plan that’s even more extreme than the policies DeSantis has implemented, and DeSantis has also gone after LGBTQ people, including via his infamous “Don’t Say Gay’ bill, which prohibits discussion of gender identity and sexuality between kindergarten and third grade, and also prohibits the topics for older kids if lessons aren’t deemed “age appropriate or developmentally appropriate.”
“The left-wing gender insanity being pushed on our children is an act of child abuse. Very simple,” Trump said in a video posted online.
Trump said he wants to “stop the chemical, physical, and emotional mutilation” of youth in the U.S. and said he’d go after hospitals and healthcare providers who’ve presumably offered gender-affirming care. He also said he’d create a “private right of action” that would allow “victims” to sue doctors who “have unforgivable performed these procedures on minor children.” Trump added that his Department of Justice would investigate “big pharma” and “big hospital networks” for what he claimed is a deliberate cover up of side effects “to get rich at the expense of vulnerable parents.”
To be clear, studies show that trans people are more likely than cisgender people to experience mental health struggles, including anxiety, depression, PTSD, and thoughts of suicide. Nearly half of all LGBTQ youth have seriously considered suicide. But those issues can be mitigated with puberty blockers and other gender-affirming therapies, which are safe and effective, and are correlated with better mental health outcomes for trans people. Teens who are able to access gender-affirming therapy typically have better mental health outcomes than trans people who have to wait until adulthood.
Hundreds of thousands of trans kids in the U.S. are currently receiving safe and critical gender-affirming care, which has been endorsed by major medical governing bodies, including the American Medical Association, American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
But contrary to what many conservatives claim, it’s not easy to get access to gender-affirming care. As one mom of a trans kid previously told VICE News, it took a long time and many steps before her son was able to begin his medical transition. The family saw multiple doctors and had to participate in several family interviews, including some solo interviews with the son. “It is not at all like it’s being presented on Fox News. It’s not like going to get an antibiotic… It is a process.”
In the video, Trump also nodded at sports participation restrictions for trans students, and said that under his plan, teachers and school districts could face “severe consequences” if they “suggest to a child that they could be trapped in the wrong body.”
Trump’s video echoes the ongoing right wing attacks on trans people’s rights and participation in public life. Republicans have introduced hundreds of anti-trans bills in dozens of state legislatures across the country, from restrictions on trans athletes in the sports to bans on gender-affirming care altogether. Last year, attacks on transgender people escalated to such a pitch in the U.S. that anti-trans hate became so intense in the U.S. that experts question whether they constitute a genocide.
In the 2022 midterms, conservative candidates spent a shocking amount—$50 million—on anti-trans campaign ads, including flyers and TV spots, during the 2022 midterms. “The radical left will destroy America, if we don’t stop them. They indoctrinate children and try to turn boys into girls,” Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said in a TV ad.
As he ramps up his 2024 run, Trump appears to be pursuing a similar strategy, repeating harmful misinformation and straight-up lying about the history and science of gender identity.
“We will promote positive education about the nuclear family,” Trump said in the nearly four-minute video. “The roles of mothers and fathers and celebrating rather than erasing the things that make men and women different and unique.”
Trump said he will also ask Congress to pass a bill that establishes “male” and “female” as the only genders recognized by the U.S. government, and they’ll be assigned at birth, he said.
“No serious country should be telling its children that they were born with the wrong gender,” Trump said. “A concept that was never heard of in all of human history. Nobody has ever heard of this. What’s happening today—It was all when the radical left invented it just a few years ago.”
That’s another lie. Transgender and nonbinary identities aren’t new. While the term “transgender” was coined in the 1960s, people have been challenging narrow definitions of gender since antiquity.
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