Donald Trump deployed attacks on the transgender community during his first public address since leaving the White House, telling attendees at the 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference that women’s sports would “die” if transgender athletes are allowed to compete in their gender identity.
“Joe Biden and the Democrats are even pushing policies that would destroy women’s sports,” Trump said in a lengthy keynote speech touting his administration’s accomplishments before the assembled crowd at the Hyatt Regency in Orlando, Fla., on Sunday.
Trump’s comments appear to be a reference to the Equality Act, a sweeping civil rights bill that would prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ people in various areas of life, such as housing, employment, credit, jury service, and public accommodations.
However, Republicans — including even LGBTQ Republican groups — have fixated on the effect that the bill could have on women’s sports if transgender women are allowed to compete, claiming the nondiscrimination bill will undermine the intent behind Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, a law that has been credited with providing equal funding and opportunities for women to compete in athletics.
“A lot of new records are being broken in women’s sports — hate to say that, ladies — but got a lot of new records that are being shattered,” Trump said, miming lifting weights, according to Business Insider.
“Young girls and women are incensed that they are now being forced to compete against those who are biological males,” he added. “It’s not good for women. it’s not good for women’s sports which worked for so long and so hard to get to where they are. The records that stood for years and decades are now being smashed with ease — smashed.
“If this is not changed, women’s sports as we know it will die. They’ll end. What coach, as an example, wants to recruit a young woman to compete if her record can easily be broken by somebody who was born a man?”
Trump said that Americans must “protect the integrity of women’s sports.”
“And I don’t even know, is that controversial?” Trump said to applause and audible laughs from the CPAC audience. “Someone said ‘Well, that’s going to be very controversial,’ and I said that’s OK – you have not heard anything yet.”
Trump’s speech echoed many of the talking points raised by Republican lawmakers in the House of Representatives who spoke against the Equality Act, as well as Republican lawmakers in almost two dozen states who are pushing legislation to bar transgender athletes from competing based on their gender identity.
However, it remains to be seen whether such bills will pass constitutional muster in the courts following what are sure to be inevitable lawsuits challenging such laws.
The state of Idaho passed a law last year that barred transgender athletes from competing in their gender identity, and is currently being sued by a transgender college athlete who wishes to compete in cross-country, and a cisgender high school athlete who worries she will be subjected to genetic testing due to her failure to conform to gender stereotypes.
President Joe Biden recently signed an executive order seeking to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination, adopting a principle outlined in a recent Supreme Court decision that anti-LGBTQ discrimination is a form of sex-based discrimination, and thus, is illegal under federal law. But Republican politicians and some women have argued that there needs to be an exemption to ensure women are not disadvantaged biologically when it comes to sports.
It remains to be seen what effect the Biden executive order will have on any additional anti-transgender bills that may pass this year.
The co-chairs of Equality PAC, the political arm of the Congressional LGBTQ Equality Caucus, condemned Trump’s comments about transgender people.
“Trump’s remarks at CPAC regarding trans women participating in sports, while infuriating, are completely expected from a transphobic former president that during his term, worked day and night to discriminate against members of the LGBTQ community,” Reps. Mark Takano (D-Calif.) and David Cicilline (D-R.I.) said in a statement.
“Trans women are women and have a right to participate in sports or any other activity that is available to them. But let’s be honest. Republicans know that this baseless line of attack, which they have deployed in their efforts to oppose the Equality Act, hides the real reason for their opposition — that they support discrimination against LGBTQ Americans for any reason, at any time, and in any place.”
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