After the Trump administration announced that the president intends to remove federal anti-discrimination protections for transgender students, MSNBC’s Charlie Sykes asserted that Trump’s order would simply return the “decision to state governments and to local governments,” embracing a dog-whistle long used to roll back civil rights for disenfranchised groups.
Sykes also did not mention that during the campaign, Trump previously had stated he supported the right of transgender people to use the bathroom consistent with their gender identity, unhindered by the states. On April 21, Trump stated that transgender Americans should “use the bathroom they feel is appropriate” in response to a question about North Carolina’s draconian HB 2. After outrage from the far-right, he reversed his stance the following night on Fox News’ Hannity. Despite Trump’s immediate flip-flop on the issue, along with his other anti-LGBTQ positions, media outlets still portrayed him as LGBTQ-friendly. From the February 22 edition of MSNBC Live:
KATY TUR: The other bit of news was transgender rights, the White House talking about sending that back to the states. Take a listen to how Sean Spicer put it.
The Human Rights Campaign has already come out and panned this saying, “what could possibly motivate a blind and cruel attack on young children like this?” Is it going to be a rallying point for Democrats?
CHARLIE SYKES: In this particular case, look, the Obama rule was an overreach by the federal government. This returns the decision to state governments and to local governments --
TUR: Why is this an overreach? I mean, this essentially is a civil rights issue.
SYKES: Part of the problem is you want to go back to the election. One of the things I saw driving a lot of the Trump voters in Ohio, and Michigan, and Wisconsin, was they're concerned about the economy, they’re concerns about their jobs and they hear Democrats talking about transgender bathrooms. However you feel about the issue, that was really symbolic of the disconnect between the Democrats and administration and a lot of the voters in the country, but in this particular case, Donald Trump really -- you know, this is something for the Christian right, evangelicals who went to the mat for him, and he had to deliver on this particular issue.
TUR: This is an equal rights issue, it's a civil rights issue. There are a lot of folks who would like to be able to choose a bathroom that they feel comfortable in.