Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about transgender athletes during the America First Agenda Summit, at the Marriott Marquis hotel July 26, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Former President Donald Trump has always known how to energize his base. On Tuesday, during his much-hyped speech in Washington D.C., he knew exactly how to pull it off: by going after trans people.
Trump’s aides and allies had touted his return to the nation’s capital, for the first time since Jan 20, 2021, as the moment Trump would deliver a thoughtful policy speech about law and order.
But that, of course, was never going to happen. In between calling for “quick trials” and summary executions for drug dealers, and ranting about filling American streets with “tens of thousands” of new police officers, Trump realized he could get his audience really going by cracking jokes at the expense of transgender people. So, naturally, he did.
“And by the way, we should not allow men to play in women’s sports. So crazy,” Trump told his audience at the America First Policy Institute, a hardcore pro-MAGA D.C. nonprofit that has gathered many former Trump administration staffers.
Trump’s audience reacted with thunderous applause, prompting Trump to note it was the most enthusiastic response he’d gotten all day, and praised himself for going off script with that remark.
“They said don’t do it. And that gets the biggest hand. It’s crazy.”
“That’s not written down anywhere,” Trump said, before claiming that his advisors had urged him not to say it. “They said don’t do it. And that gets the biggest hand. It’s crazy.”
Trump said he opposes trans women competing in women’s sports because it’s “so disrespectful to women.”
Trump went on to get big laughs from his audience with stories about trans women outperforming in competitive swimming and weightlifting, then had them rolling in the aisles with a crack about recruiting LeBron James to join a women’s basketball team.
“I’d be the greatest women’s basketball coach in history,” Trump said. “I’d say, ‘LeBron, did you ever have any desire to be a woman? Because what I’d love for you to do is star on my team that I’m building up.’ I will have the greatest team in history. They’ll never lose.”
In the summer of 2020, the Trump administration finalized a rule that removed protections for transgender patients from discrimination by doctors, hospitals and insurance companies. Critics called the move discriminatory towards transgender people.
On Monday, President Joe Biden’s administration moved to officially reverse that rule and enshrine those protections into the Affordable Care Act.
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