At a rally hours, before pro-Trump demonstrators assaulted the U.S. Capitol, Donald Trump Jr. on Wednesday attacked transgender women athletes in an expletive-laden speech.
After thanking attendees for “being in this fight with us” and “standing up to the bull—-,” Trump said “amen and a-woman,” sarcastically referring to how Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., ended the first daily prayer of the new Congress on Sunday.
He then used that remark to pivot to a recent study that found transgender women retain an athletic advantage over their cisgender peers even after a year of hormone treatment.
“That shows you the mentality of where the Democratic Party is,” said Trump, who also retweeted NBC News’ article about the study. “They spent money on a study that came to the incredible conclusion yesterday that trans women playing female sports have a competitive advantage.”
“No s—!” he yelled. “Who could have seen that coming?”
At that point, Fox News, which had been covering the rally, cut off the feed and returned to anchor Sandra Smith, according to a clip captured by Daily Beast editor Justin Baragona.
A report in the British Journal of Sports Medicine showed transgender women were able to do 10 percent more pushups and 6 percent more situps in the first two years after starting estrogen and testosterone blockers.
The study’s lead author, Timothy Roberts, denied that the Democratic Party, or anyone else, had funded the report. “This was done in addition to our normal duties as a service to our patients,” he said.
Roberts and his colleagues gathered data by reviewing existing medical records and fitness test evaluations of U.S. Air Force members who started or continued transition-related treatment while still in service.
Current International Olympic Committee guidelines require transgender female athletes to be on testosterone blockers for at least a year before entering the competition, but Roberts said that may be inadequate.
“For the Olympic level, the elite level, I’d say probably two years is more realistic than one year,” he told NBC News previously. “At one year, the trans women on average still have an advantage over the cis women. They just do.”
He added that a one-year waiting period was sufficient for student-athletes and nonprofessional leagues.
“There’s a whole lot of people playing recreational sports, and very few people get to be pros, so just let them play,” he said. Roberts said he was flattered that Trump Jr. chose “to recognize and promote our work.”
“I encourage everyone to read the article for a more nuanced view of our findings,” he added.
At the rally, Trump Jr. also complained about the U.S. giving “$10 million to Pakistan on gender studies … and billions elsewhere that is driven by the insanity of the left.”
“Nobody cares how you identify, but you don’t have to do the nonsense that follows,” he said, before asking why feminists weren’t speaking out “as men are dominating women’s sports.”
After Trump Jr. and his father addressed the crowd, hundreds of Trump supporters swarmed the Capitol, forcing Congress to evacuate and Vice President Mike Pence to be ushered to safety. At least four people died in the chaos that ensued, and dozens more were arrested. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser ordered a 12-hour curfew overnight.
Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, deputy executive director for the National Center for Transgender Equality, said Trump Jr.’s comments were “another desperate attempt to cling to power by villainizing others.”
“Transgender people live in every state, in every community in this country. We are neighbors, friends, and family,” he said. “But the extremists in power scapegoat transgender people, along with other marginalized people, to distract us from their failure to govern effectively. They attack rather than lead. That’s why voters overwhelmingly chose a new direction, toward a government where we honor each other’s humanity.”
GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis told The Wrap that “targeting transgender people is not only pathetic and cruel, it’s a losing political strategy.”
After fading interest in so-called bathroom bills, Republicans have tried to make transgender athletes a wedge issue.
In Congress, Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., sponsored S.4649, the “Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act,” which would cut federal funding to any school that allows someone assigned male at birth to compete in girls’ athletics.
Loeffler, who was appointed to her seat and sworn in a year ago, lost to Democrat Raphael Warnock in a special runoff election on Tuesday.
In March, Idaho Gov. Brad Little, a Republican, signed the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, which prohibits transgender athletes from competing in school sports consistent with their gender identity, regardless of when they transitioned.
After a lower court blocked it from going into effect in August, the case is now before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
At least 18 states have policies that explicitly allow transgender students to participate in school sports, according to Ellis. “There’s no evidence … that inclusion negatively impacts athletic programs,” she said.