President Trump has appointed noted anti-abortion activist Charmaine Yoest as Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
News of Yoest’s appointment rankled congressional Democrats who balked at her past anti-abortion activism. Yoest, a senior fellow at American Values, is the former president of Americans United for Life, one of the groups behind state-level legislation to restrict abortion access.
Yoest’s appointment has raised eyebrows among abortion rights advocates because of her claims that abortions are linked to higher rates of breast cancer, that IUDs shorten a woman’s lifespan, and that there is no correlation between higher rates of contraception use and lower rates of abortion.
Yoest also kept her own blog, “Reasoned Audacity,” in which she made a number of anti-LGBTQ statements, with the bulk of her rage focused on the transgender community. In her many writings, Yoest has called transgender people “crazy,” “creatures,” frequently referred to chopping off one’s genitalia, and implied that medical care for transgender people (or as she refers to it, “the surgical removal of body parts”) is “a joke.”
Yoest has also promulgated the age-old trope of LGBTQ individuals as sexual predators, writing: “Parents should ask if McDonald’s will embrace open unisex restrooms where transgenders and transvestites and cross-dressers can have proximity to the wee ones.” In that same post, Yoest said she and her family would be boycotting McDonald’s because of the company’s support of LGBTQ equality.
Yoest’s position does not require Senate confirmation, meaning she was essentially ensured the position once Trump appointed her.
The National Center for Transgender Equality was aghast at Yoest’s appointment to HHS, which administers policies relating to transgender or transition-related medical care — which Yoest has specifically said she does not believe in.
“It’s almost as if President Trump is trying to find people who say the most mean, spiteful, hateful things about transgender people to fill roles in his administration,” Mara Kesiling, NCTE’s executive director, said in a statement.