In an appearance on The Today Show this morning — immediately after confirming to one audience member that her relatives would be deported should he take office — Donald Trump announced his support of the Charlotte, North Carolina law that would have protected the right of transgender people to use whichever bathroom fits their gender identity.
Shortly after Charlotte’s city council passed that measure, the North Carolina state legislature passed their own discrimination law — one that overrides all local laws on the issue and explicitly leaves out protections based on gender and sexuality.
When asked about the controversial state move, Trump failed to explain his own views on whether transgender people deserve legal protections, but argued instead that the economic costs North Carolina has faced for the discriminatory bill — dozens of corporations have made efforts to divest their business from the state in past weeks — were reason enough to “keep things the way they are,” presumably referring to the legal authority of Charlotte’s LGTB-friendly bill.
“There have been very few complaints the way it is. People go, they use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate,” he said.
The problem now in North Carolina, Trump said, was “the strife” the state’s law had caused. He also said, answering a question from GMA’s Matt Lauer, that he would be fine with transgender people using whichever bathroom they wanted to in his buildings.
This all sounds promising. But, like most stances in his political career, Trump’s views on LGBT rights seem largely dictated by circumstance and opportunism. This time, he was asked on a national morning show about a pointless and ineffective law, but his beliefs seem to change each time he’s asked about them.
In 2000, he said he was for amending the Civil Rights Act to include protections based on sexuality… in an interview with The Advocate, a LGBT-interest magazine. He was also consistently opposed to legal marriage equality… until the Supreme Court decided in its favor. Then, he said the court had made its decision and he would accept it… and then he said he would nominate justices who pledged to reverse the court’s ruling, a position he still holds.
He’s also been for and against Kim Davis, for and against so-called “religious liberty,” and for and against allowing transgender beauty queens to compete in his pageants.
This last case is especially interesting, as it highlights Trump’s manic focus on triangulating his own opinions.
When 23-year-old Jenna Talackova attempted to enter the Miss Universe Canada pageant — a branch of Trump’s Miss Universe franchise — she was initially barred from competing because she was not a “naturally born female,” as Trump’s rules dictated. Talackova had identified as female since age four.
Then, once Trump faced a massive public backlash (and a potential lawsuit) for his organization’s decision, he allowed Talackova to compete in the Canadian pageant in an agreement that acknowledged Canada’s national standards for “legal gender recognition requirements,” that contradicted his own organization’s rules.
“I did not know that she had a lawyer and especially Gloria Allred,” Trump said. “In fact, had I known it was Gloria Allred, I probably would not have reversed my decision because, you know, Gloria is easy to beat.”
All of this to say, again: Don’t take Trump on his word. On anything.
Photo: The Today Show/ NBC.