Last month, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump broke with his party’s orthodoxy and came out against a North Carolina law that bans schools and public buildings from accommodating transgender individuals’ bathroom use.
“North Carolina did something that was very strong,” Trump told Today, “and they’re paying a big price. There’s a lot of problems.”
But Trump has steadily walked those comments back during the handful of weeks since. In fact, Trump’s recent comments suggest he doesn’t actually object to anti-trans state laws like North Carolina’s aforementioned HB2 after all.
Donald Trump’s Incoherent Position On Transgender ProtectionsLGBT by CREDIT: AP Photo/Mary Altaffer As the Republican Party struggles to embrace Donald Trump as its presidential…thinkprogress.orgEarlier this month, Trump said that while he thinks “transgender people should be protected under the law,” the bathroom issue is one that should be left to the individual states to sort out. The problem with that position, however, is that states like North Carolina are passing laws that do the very opposite of protect trans people.
Then, during an appearance on The O’Reilly Factor this Monday, Trump rolled out another rationale for why states shouldn’t be required to accommodate trans people — it’s allegedly too expensive.
“Frankly, it would be unbelievably expensive nationwide,” Trump said, referring to gender neutral bathrooms. “It would be hundreds of billions of dollars.”
Thursday, Trump appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Kimmel, to his credit, pressed Trump on the transgender bathroom issue, repeatedly asking him to clarify what his personal beliefs are with regard to transgender bathroom accommodations. Trump, however, said he doesn’t know what he believes anymore.
Trump mentioned the orthodox Republican position on bills like HB2. But unlike last month, he made no attempt to push back on legislation of that sort or suggest he supports a different approach.
“The party generally believes that whatever you’re born, that’s the bathroom you use,” Trump said. “Well what about you?” Kimmel replied.
“What I support is let the states decide and I think the states will do, hopefully, the right thing,” Trump said, prompting Kimmel to follow up with, “And what’s the right thing?”
“I don’t know yet, I mean, I don’t know. Honestly, I don’t know,” Trump replied as the audience chuckled. “It’s a very, ah… interesting subject.”
While Trump was trying his best to toe the party line with Kimmel, Stephen Colbert was on the other coast having some fun with Trump’s absurd notion that accommodating trans bathroom use would cost “hundreds of billions of dollars.”
Transgender rights is one of a number of issues where Trump has contradicted himself in recent weeks. In fact, in response to questions about Trump’s ever-shifting positions during a CNN appearance earlier this month, Barry Bennett, a senior political adviser to the Trump campaign, took umbrage with the very idea that words are meaningful.
“Oh please, this words matter stuff. This is ridiculous,” Bennett said. “You are looking desperately for a reason not to vote for him.”