ORLANDO, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 28: Former U.S. President Donald Trump mocks cisgender women athletes … [+]
Sunday’s first speech by twice-impeached former president Donald Trump since he left office served as a stark reminder to the Republican party of who truly leads them. His message to the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Fla., copied and pasted from the platform which won him 74-million votes last November, strongly resonated with the audience of cheering, mostly unmasked right wingers. Those are the Americans the GOP hopes will put Republicans back in power next year.
The party is also hedging its bets that the divisive issues Trump outlined in his two-hour spiel will still matter to voters in 2022 and beyond.
Calling it “the most disastrous first month of any president in modern history,” Trump railed against President Biden’s immigration policy, the Iran nuclear deal and he named every Republican who had dared to vote for his impeachment as political targets. Of course, Trump also threatened to run again in 2024, but not as a third party candidate. He even urged attendees to get vaccinated for Covid-19, which of course provided him an opportunity to take credit for their availability.
And in a far forceful way than he ever did as president, Trump took direct aim at transgender athletes, a topic that has energized the Republican base in recent weeks.
“Joe Biden and the Democrats are pushing policies that would even destroy women’s sports,” Trump began his rant, as the crowd booed. He first ridiculed cisgender female weightlifters, intimating that they might only be able to lift ounces when compared to transgender women athletes, whom he mocked by pretending to lift weights on the dais.
“Young girls and women are incensed that they are now being forced to compete against those who are biological males,” said Trump, using a phrase that is common among opponents of inclusion that trans advocates say is used as a weapon of oppression.
“It’s not good for women. It’s not good for women’s sports, who worked so long and so hard to get to where they are. The records that stood for years, even decades, are now being smashed,” he lied. “If this is not changed, women’s sports as we know it will die. They’ll end. It’ll end.” His fear-mongering was not done, however.
To no one’s surprise, these harsh statements align Trump with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Ga., Sens. Rand Paul of Ky. and Utah’s Mitt Romney, who each have denounced the policies of inclusion for trans student-athletes in women’s sports in recent days and weeks. In turn, those politicians are in lockstep with far right extremist anti-LGBTQ groups like the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Heritage Foundation and Save Women’s Sports, as well as conservative publications like The Federalist, Breitbart, The Daily Caller and of course, Fox News.
As NBC News reported, these forces have joined together in coordinated efforts across the nation to enact legislation in almost two dozen states, seeking to outlaw transgender healthcare, ban trans student-athletes from competition, force genital inspections of girls deemed suspicious of being male and, most shocking of all, criminalizing gender transition. A list of all the anti-trans legislation under consideration can be found at transathlete.com, a site created by and managed by out athlete Chris Mosier.
Trump’s decision to weigh-in on this issue, just as the Equality Act is being considered by the U.S. Senate, re-defines the battle lines in the fight over women’s sports, perhaps more clearly than ever. Conservatives, anti-transgender lesbians, trans-exclusionary radical feminists and right-leaning religious groups are all on the same side as QAnon conspiracists, Trump supporters and those who falsely claim providing equal rights to all Americans somehow erases their constitutional First Amendment right to practice their faith however they see fit. If enacted, the amendment of the 1964 Civil Rights Act would not interfere with anyone’s religious freedom, so long as they didn’t discriminate against their fellow citizens on the basis of who they are.
Those wildly varied groups are now allied with Trump in their fight against liberals, progressives, independents and even some Republicans who have sided with trans-inclusive feminist equality advocates and religious leaders in support of the Equality Act, the Democratic party’s agenda and President Biden.
Caught in the middle are women athletes, both cisgender and transgender. An overwhelming majority of them tell the LGBTQ sports site Outsports they agree that transgender women are women and should continue to compete according to their authentic gender identity.
These women know that trans athletes don’t always win. They recognize that no trans woman has ever dominated a single sport, ever. No trans athlete, either male or female, has even qualified for the Olympic Games, never mind competed, in all the years that trans athletes have been permitted to try. They know that what wins scholarships and medals are grit, determination and giving one’s personal best, not where one places in a race or what’s between any athlete’s legs.
If trans athletes being allowed to compete is truly the threat Trump and other opponents say it is, these women athletes ask: why hasn’t the NCAA shut down its women’s sports programs? How come those still exist in 16 states where student-athletes can compete according to their gender identity? Or the 14 states where the rules are stringent but it’s not impossible? Also: Why isn’t there any scientific research comparing elite trans athletes with cis women athletes? How can anyone determine what’s fair if the only research performed so far is on average trans women, not actual athletes, and not on actual trans girl athletes? Why does almost all of the research now used to argue against inclusion start with the presumption that women are weak and inferior and that trans women are men?
How one answers those questions is what will truly determine the future of women’s sports, not the rantings of a narcissist con-man and disgraced ex-politician who lives in denial of reality.
I am an award-winning journalist and host of the “RiseUP With Dawn Ennis” talk show and co-host of the “The Trans Sporter Room” podcast. I was America’s first transgender