As Bill O'Reilly painted the world's scariest picture of the recent transgender directive from the White House, Donald Trump looked into the Fox News camera with a confused or even doubtful look on his face. He nodded slightly and blinked profusely as O'Reilly droned on about little girls showering with, and I quote, "a boy who wants to be a girl." (It should go without saying that this is gross misgendering.) Then Trump responded, giving the most wishy-washy of answers imaginable, pandering every which way. True, he may not be as bad as Ted Cruz, but sorry, Trump, the U.S. needs a leader on trans rights, not a panderer like you.
There are politicians like Cruz and media pundits like O'Reilly who scare and demonize. Then there are the President Obamas and Loretta Lynches of the country who stand up for what's right by telling schools not to discriminate or suing the state of North Carolina for its bathroom law. We need more of the latter to drown out the former. What we don't need is someone like Trump who can't figure out what side to come down on in one of the greatest civil rights struggles of our time.
Here's his response to O'Reilly, asking if it's fine for trans kids to use the locker room that corresponds to their gender identity:
Well it's not fine and I have to tell you that I would, generally speaking, leave it to the states to decide. You know, Obama's getting into a very tricky territory. And the amazing thing is, so many people are talking about this now. And we have to protect everybody, even if it's one person. But this is such a tiny part of our population. Now with that being said, protect everybody. But I would really leave it up to the states in this case.
Do you hear that non-answer? It's a live stream of his thought process and his ultimate goal is not answering the question. He's like, "Protect everybody... but there aren't many people... but protect everybody. Oh, I know, states!" He goes on to quip that he won't put in separate trans bathrooms in his hotels because it's too expensive, especially for such a small number of people. That is not the answer the United States needs.
More transgender people were killed in 2015 than any other year on record. This is not just an argument about feeling comfortable while using a public restroom. At stake here is the physical safety and well-being of trans people around the country. That's why we need to create a more inclusive society that understands and responds to transgender needs, to prevent discrimination, abuse, and yes, even murder.
So let's just take a second and consider what politicians need to be saying. This is from Attorney General Lynch's speech on trans rights after she announced the DOJ would sue North Carolina:
But this is not a time to act out of fear. This is a time to summon our national virtues of inclusivity, diversity, compassion, and open-mindedness. What we must not do — what we must never do — is turn on our neighbors, our family members, our fellow Americans, for something they cannot control, and deny what makes them human.
This is the kind of leadership the country needs. Trump may not be as anti-trans as he is anti-Mexican, anti-Muslim, and anti-woman, but he still has a far way to go before meeting the qualifications for president. And, come November, the only option is to vote for a candidate that gets it, a true leader on transgender rights. Needless to say that's not Trump.