Trump's Consultants Didn't Want Him to Call Out Transgender Athletes

Former President Donald Trump said his consultants warned him against speaking about transgender athletes during a speech on Tuesday.

Trump gave the keynote address at the America First Agenda Summit, where he spoke out against the inclusion of transgender women on women's sports team.

The issue has emerged as a rallying cry among many conservatives who argue trans women have an unfair advantage over their competitors. Advocates for the transgender community, however, argue that trans athletes are typically only able to compete after transitioning and that critics are using transphobic attacks against an already vulnerable community.

During the speech, Trump discussed the inclusion of transgender athletes as one of many problems facing the United States, arguing it is "disrespectful to women" and "unfair" to allow trans women to play on women's sports teams.

"By the way, we should not allow men to play in women's sports," he said.

Trump consultants advised against transgender athlete remarks
Donald Trump said his consultants advised him against speaking about transgender athletes during a speech at the America First Agenda Summit on Tuesday. Above, Trump gives the keynote address. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The remark was met with loud applause from the audience, made up of Trump's conservative supporters, prompting him to add that it was "not even written down anywhere," yet it "got the biggest" applause.

"So crazy. It just shows you what all of these political geniuses—I have all of these consultants, all these great, 'Sir, don't say that, it's very controversial,'" he said.

It wasn't the only slight Trump made against the transgender community during the speech. He said he opposes allowing children access to puberty blockers, treatment that prevents puberty from occurring in transgender people.

He also compared allowing transgender women to play on women's sports teams to asking LeBron James to transition and join a women's basketball team, a comparison he has made before and that drew ample attention on Twitter. A video of the remarks received tens of thousands of views.

"I'd be the greatest women's basketball coach in history. Because I don't like LeBron James, I like Michael Jordan much better. But, I'd go up to LeBron James—it doesn't matter. I'd say, 'LeBron, did you ever have any desire to be a woman? Because what I'd love you to do is star on my team that I'm building up,'" he said.

He continued: "I will have the greatest team in history. They'd never lose. Nobody will come within 70 points of this team."

Transgender Athletes Remain Divisive Issue

Republicans have used the topic of transgender athletes to accuse Democrats of pushing transgender equality for the community at the expense of cisgender women. The criticism has resulted in some policy changes among sports organizations and Republican-led states, which have banned trans women from competing on women's teams.

But many in the LGBTQ community have spoken out against the rhetoric, which some say has helped spark a new wave of transphobia in recent months. Republicans have pushed for policies targeting parents of transgender youth and pushed "Don't Say Gay" bills that prohibit the discussion of the LGBTQ community in schools.

After FINA, the worldwide governing body for swimming, banned transgender athletes, some in the trans community condemned the decision.

"This is horrific. FINA has chosen to disregard science and bow to political pressure brought about by vicious anti-trans propaganda. No young trans woman would meet this criteria without access to proper health care, which, itself, is being banned in many places. Ludicrous," tweeted Charlotte Clymer, a transgender woman.

Newsweek reached out to Trump's office for comment.