Trump has decided to raise DeSantis by getting where the latter was inevitably going and openly declaring war on all trans people:
But to both LGBT advocates and social conservatives, Trump’s policy rollout was a watershed moment, one that signaled a hard right turn from debates focused on transitioning youth to a broader attack on the very concept of transgender identity itself.
Trump had already supported efforts by red states to ban gender-affirming care for minors, discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools, and transgender student athletes. Now, Trump was promising a gag order on federal promotion of gender transition “at any age” and a law “establishing that the only genders recognized by the United States government are male and female, and they are assigned at birth.”
“The biggest thing here is the pivot away from transgender youth to all transgender people,” said Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, executive director at the National Center for Transgender Equality. “This year is the first time we’ve seen actions, in states, going after adults. That is brand new for Trump.”
Trump’s early emphasis on gender identity in this campaign has also surprised some conservatives, who are delighted that the 2024 presidential race is shaping up into a race to the right on the issue. Trump is currently in an invisible primary with DeSantis, whose own strategy for blocking Medicaid from funding gender-affirming treatment — appointing a medical board that issued an official policy change — was applauded by social conservatives.
Nobody could have foreseen that raising questions about more young people identifying as trans would be a Trojan horse to imposing legal disabilities and more social stigma on all trans people, if their income depended on not foreseeing it.