As Barack Obama did in 2008, Trump made it to the White House by piecing together a unique coalition of voters, many of whom voted for him for very different reasons. These interest groups include the anti-free trade crowd, anti-immigrant groups, and Christian evangelicals. A less oft mentioned constituent of the Trump coalition is pro-LGBT voters.
Note the term “pro-LGBT” and not just LGBT. Lesbian, gays, and transgender voters backed Clinton by 77 percent. That said, many Trump voters are in favor of, or at least not opposed to, LGBT rights. This is especially true of millennial Trump voters, as evidenced by one of Trump’s most controversial and influential support groups, the subreddit r/The_Donald. For all the abhorrent views they hold as a cohort, r/The_Donald has generally been supportive of things like gay marriage and transgender choice.
Trump stumped the GOP establishment when he became the first President to be in favor of gay marriage at the time of his election. Some of Mr. Trump’s most prominent supporters, like Milo Yiannopoulos and Peter Thiel, are openly gay. Even Caitlyn Jenner, arguably America’s most famous trans woman, supported Trump early on, although that support has wavered since the election.
While Trump defenders, and Trump himself, proudly noted that he was pro-LGBT, long time LGBT activists continually called his bluff during the election. Turns out they were right. Like so many of Trump’s promises, his pledge to be pro LGBT has proven to be a publicity stunt. File this in the same cabinet as draining the swamp, protecting Medicare, and rebuilding the country’s infrastructure.
Today, Trump signaled via Twitter that the military would no longer allow transgender troops to serve in combat. The President cited the medical cost of providing transition surgery and the apparent detrimental impact transgender troops have on unit cohesion. This despite the fact that a Rand Corporation study published in 2016 found that the impact on both healthcare budgets and unit preparedness were negligible.
This isn’t Trump’s first attack on the transgender community he once claimed to support.
“The Trump administration had already revoked federal guidelines on transgender student rights in February.” The Washington Post’s Amber Phillips notes. “If anyone in the gay community still held out hope that Trump would live up to his pro-LGBT campaign rhetoric, Trump just eviscerated that.”
Trump campaigned as an unconventional renegade unbound by party lines. In practice, he’s just another far right Republican representing the interests of the GOP’s billionaire funders. Who’da thunk it?