Last week, President Trump tapped Charmaine Yoest to serve as Assistant Secretary of Public Affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services. While many reports have emphasized her storied anti-abortion record, she also has a long history of opposing anti-LGBTQ equality, one she seems to be trying to erase.
Unfortunately for Yoest, the internet is not very good at forgetting things.
Previously, Yoest served as vice president for communications of the Family Research Council (FRC), an anti-LGBTQ hate group. She currently serves as senior fellow for American Values, which similarly advocates against LGBTQ equality. In both roles, she made numerous media appearances on behalf of the organizations arguing, in particular, against transgender equality. She likewise has long maintained a blog called Reasoned Audacity, where several posts that once contained anti-LGBTQ remarks are suddenly disappearing.
In October of 2006, her husband Jack Yoest wrote of transgender people, “If you take a meat cleaver to your manhood, there would probably not be a fit between us. Because you would be crazy.” A few weeks later, Charmaine acknowledged he should not “be poking fun” at them because, “you see, these creatures are crazy, I believe.” She went on to compare trans people to people who believe they are amputees, even though the field of psychiatry had warranted no such comparisons. Both of those posts have been deleted.
The National Center for Transgender Equality noted a number of other posts from the blog with ugly characterizations of transgender people that have since disappeared, including many written by Jack but promoting Charmaine’s work at FRC.
Plenty of Yoest’s media appearances also survive her attempted scrub of her past.
For example, in 2006, Yoest appeared on Fox News to argue against allowing transgender people to obtain birth certificates that match their gender identities. She described transgender people as “wrestling with a disorder” and insisted that rejecting their identities — and allowing the resulting discrimination against them — was “rooted in common sense and in reality.” Trans people are “trying to redefine what normal is,” she said, as she foreshadowed the bathroom predator myth that has largely defined anti-transgender rhetoric in recent years.
Just this year, she was continuing to advocate against transgender equality on CNN, now offering full-throated support for the complete myth that respecting people’s gender identities somehow makes women unsafe in spaces like bathrooms. She couldn’t cite a single example of how transgender rights ever contributed to predatory behavior — because there is none — but she nevertheless insisted that trans people should be prohibited from bathrooms.
Transgender people have not been Yoest’s only target. In 2006, she tried to over-inflate support for bans on same-sex marriage on CNN by claiming, “Every single time there’s been a marriage initiative on the ballot across this country, it’s passed with over 70 percent of the popular vote.” This ignored the fact that such a ban actually failed in Arizona, as well as the fact that very few of the initiatives passed by such a margin.
In 2007, she appeared on MSNBC to again argue against marriage equality. She was defending the talking point that same-sex couples shouldn’t be allowed to marry because they can’t have children. In an attempt to turn it against Freedom to Marry’s Evan Wolfson, she claimed that it was “cruel” to “mock” different-sex couples who can’t have children by suggesting they were similarly situated to same-sex couples.
Yoest’s entire career has been built on advocating against a woman’s right to an abortion and against LGBTQ people’s right to coexist as equals in society, but her “family values” came to a screeching halt when it came to Donald Trump. As a member of the Trump campaign’s “pro-life advisory council,” she defended him after the Billy Bush tape came out revealing him bragging about sexually assaulting women. She deflected critiques of those comments by insisting liberal critics were hypocrites, because after all, Beyoncé and Jay-Z “have lyrics that are replete with this kind of vulgarity.”
Trump seems to have rewarded her allegiance accordingly.