Former President Donald Trump promised to ban transgender athletes from competing in women’s sports if he is reelected to the White House in 2024.
Trump made the comments during a long, meandering speech before throngs of followers and conservative activists in Conroe, Texas, on Saturday night in one of what is expected to be a series of political rallies intended to gauge support for a future White House run.
In his speech, Trump made several promises offering so-called “red meat” to Republican base voters on various hot-button issues, promising to undo some of President Joe Biden’s executive orders, ban critical race theory in schools and workplaces, pardon those accused of taking part in the Capitol riot, and build a border wall and deport undocumented immigrants, all while ranting about how he was cheated out of a second term due to alleged — yet unproven — electoral fraud.
But there was a significant cheer from those in attendance after Trump promised to “ban men from participating in women’s sports,” adding that the concept was “[s]o ridiculous.”
Without mentioning her by name, Trump referenced University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas and her recent successes in the pool, deliberately misgendering her and at times exaggerating how well she has been performing. For example, Trump did not mention that Thomas recently lost a few shorter-distance events in a dual meet against Yale and Dartmouth. In one of those races, Thomas placed sixth, behind four other cisgender females and winner Iszac Henig, a trans male not currently on hormones — whom Trump and his followers would ostensibly misgender as a “woman.”
“Did you see the man who is on the swimming team at a certain school that I know well?” Trump, a graduate of U Penn’s Wharton School of Business, said.
“The record held for like 11 years, he beat it by 38 seconds,” he added, referring to times Thomas posted at an invitational earlier in the season that beat the standing Ivy League record for the 1,650-yard freestyle.
Trump then went off on a tangent that appeared to attack New Zealand transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard — again, not specifically mentioning her name — for competing in the Olympics, claiming she was doing deadlifts with only one hand and breaking longstanding records. Yet at the Olympics, Hubbard ended up placing last among all competitors in the +87-kilogram group after failing three times to snatch-lift 125 kilograms.
“But the best is the weightlifting records — they’re going,” Trump said. “One guy walks in with one hand [and] he broke the record that held up for 20 years. … Take a look at the weightlifting records. Two ounces is unacceptable. They beat ’em by many, many, many, many, many, many pounds.”
Yet Trump’s rhetoric on trans athletes will likely play well among Republican voters, who overwhelmingly oppose the idea of allowing transgender people to compete in sports based on their gender identity, according to polling.
Many Republican-led states have proposed or passed bills to bar transgender females from competing in women’s sports, including, most recently, South Dakota, where Gov. Kristi Noem (R) has attempted to use the issue to elevate her national profile ahead of what some political observers believe may be an attempt at a 2024 presidential run.
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