Social issues – particularly concerns around gender ideology and affirmative care for minors – is already a prominent topic of the 2024 election cycle. On the campaign trail, former President Donald Trump has referred to gender-affirming treatment for minors as “child sexual mutilation” and said he is running for office to “defeat the cult of gender ideology.”
As president, Trump reversed an Obama administration policy and curtailed the ability for transgender people to serve in the United States military. But that was a departure from some of his prior statements and actions. In 2016, he was on the record supporting Caitlyn Jenner’s right to use the women’s restroom at Trump Tower. Prior to that, he allowed trans contestants to compete in the Miss Universe pageant that he owned at the time.
With all of that in mind, Megyn sought to get clarity from former President Trump on where he stands today on the issue of biological men in women’s spaces and how he feels about gender reassignment hormones and surgeries for minors.
[Editor’s Note: You can learn more about Megyn’s position on preferred pronouns here.]
Then vs. Now
While running for president in 2016, Trump said North Carolina was paying a “big price” for the so-called “bathroom bill” that barred people from using bathrooms that don’t match the sex indicated on their birth certificate. He told The Today Show that lawmakers should “leave it the way it is” and avoid the economic boycotts that accompanied the legislation.
During the same interview, Trump was asked whether Jenner – a long-time friend – would be allowed to use any bathroom in Trump Tower. He answered, “That is correct.”
A few years earlier, Trump oversaw the changing of the rules at the Miss Universe pageant that, at the time, forbid transgender contestants. In 2012, a 23-year-old transgender woman named Jenna Talackova threatened legal action over the then-Trump-owned Miss Universe organization’s ban on transgender contestants. Talackova was later allowed to compete, and a statement released by the Trump Organization at the time said the change was to “modernize” the pageant.
Trump told Megyn that, much like the lack of knowledge at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, conversations around gender identity were new at the time. “This was very much like the subject [of COVID]… this was brand new,” he said. “This was a brand new subject… nobody talked about it.”
Trans Military Ban
The former president then pointed to the policy enacted during his administration as an example of where he stands today. “I’m the one that wouldn’t allow it in the military – that was a big move,” he shared. “I went to generals… the real generals, not the ones you see on television… and said, ‘What do you think [of the Obama administration’s trans policy]?’ And they did not like it… [but] nobody wanted to go public. It’s a very hard subject.”
In 2017, Trump reportedly caught some in his administration off guard when he tweeted the government wouldn’t accept or allow transgender individuals to serve “in any capacity” in the military.
Prior to 2016, U.S. service members could be discharged from the military for being transgender. But the Defense Department under President Barack Obama declared transgender people already serving in the military would be allowed to do so openly, while trans individuals would be allowed to enlist beginning July 1, 2017.
Upon taking office, the Trump team delayed the enlistment date and ultimately sought to reverse the policy. After legal battles and reviews, the Defense Department approved a policy in April 2019 that fell short of an all-out ban but required most individuals to serve as what the administration called their “birth gender.” Any active service members who identified as trans were permitted to continue with their transition and treatment if they had been diagnosed with gender dysphoria.
President Biden has since revoked the Trump-era policy. “Now since this character got in, he’s allowed it in the military,” Trump told Megyn. “You know, part of the problem is it takes massive amounts of drugs [to transition]. In the military, you’re not allowed to take drugs… so right there it should not be allowed.”
The ‘Mutilation’ of Children
When Megyn asked where Trump falls on the issue of “biological men who say that they’re trans being allowed in” women’s spaces (restrooms, locker rooms, prisons, etc.), he referred back to the DoD decision. “My stance on that is really pretty much what I had in the military,” he said. “That’s been my stance, and that’s been my stance.”
Upon further pressing, Trump seemed to admit that his position has evolved over time. “I think at the beginning, it was such a small subject, nobody really thought about it,” he said. “But then, with time, you change… Where I probably took the hardest line was on the military.”
Based on his campaign rhetoric, Trump seems to be developing a more defined stance of gender affirming care as well. “We’re talking about mutilation,” he said when asked about hormone therapy for minors. “It’s the mutilation of children, and we will stop the mutilation of children.”
Megyn asked Trump pointblank if he would “be in favor of a ban” on puberty blockers and cross sex hormones for minors. “I think yes, yes, yes, I would,” he said. At the very least, he said he believes decisions about children should be made by parents. “The parents have to make the decision,” he said. “They’re trying to give it to school boards and schools… to make a decision. It’s unbelievable.”
What Is a Woman?
To close out their conversation on the topic, Megyn had one final question: “Can a man become a woman,” she asked.
After a bit of a pause and chuckle, Trump offered this: “In my opinion, you have a man, you have a woman. I think part of it is birth. Can the man give birth? No, although they’ll come up with some answer to that also someday. I heard just the other day, they have a way that now the man can give birth. No, I would say, I’ll continue my stance on that.”
You can check out Megyn’s full interview with Trump by tuning in to episode 627 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.