American Autocracy: Tracking Trump’s Threats to Gender-Affirming Care and the LGBTQ+ Community

Trump’s previous comments on gay and trans rights make him a clear threat to the LGBTQ+ community.

Donald Trump mocks trans athletes on June 10, 2023, in Greensboro, N.C., while attending the North Carolina Republican Party Convention. (Win McNamee / Getty Images)

Former President Donald Trump has said he will be a dictator on “day one.” He and his advisors and associates have publicly discussed hundreds of further actions to be taken during a second Trump presidency that directly threaten democracy, the rule of law, as well as U.S. (and global) security. We ignore leaders who promise dictatorship—and those who enable them—at our own peril. The United States, like many other functioning democracies, is hardly immune from backsliding and lurching toward autocracy.

In this three-part American Autocracy series, we track Trump’s comments on feminist issues. This installment: threats to the LGBTQ+ community under a potential second Trump presidency. (Yesterday’s was all about the threat a Trump presidency poses for abortion; tomorrow’s will tackle persecuting his perceived enemies.)

The autocracy threat tracker was originally published on Just Security, an online forum for the rigorous analysis of security, democracy, foreign policy and rights. The authors will continue to update that version of the tracker. Below is an excerpt.

Discriminating Against LGBTQ+ Americans

Trump believes gender transition among youth is “left wing gender insanity” and said he would pass a bill establishing that there are “only two genders.” Specifically, he plans to use the powers of the federal government to reduce gender transition at any age and to ban the use of hormone therapies and surgeries for gender transition among youth.

  • June 2023: Speaking on transgender people in sports, Trump said, “These people are sick; they are deranged.”

Trump plans to announce that medical facilities providing hormone therapies or surgeries for transition will be deemed non-compliant with federal health and safety regulations, resulting in the loss of federal funding, including Medicaid and Medicare. Additionally, he aims to urge Congress to ban hormonal and surgical treatments for transgender minors across all 50 states.

  • June 30, 2023, Moms for Liberty Event: Trump said, “On Day One, I will sign an executive order instructing every federal agency to cease the promotion of sex or gender transition at any age. They’re not gonna do it anymore. I will declare that any hospital or health-care provider that participates in the chemical or physical mutilation of minor youth no longer meets federal health and safety standards—they will be terminated from receiving federal funds effective immediately.”
  • Agenda47, Feb. 1, 2023: “I will declare that any hospital or health-care provider that participates in the chemical or physical mutilation of minor youth will no longer meet federal health and safety standards for Medicaid and Medicare and will be terminated from the program immediately.”

Trump intends to revoke gender-affirming care.

  • Agenda47, Feb. 1, 2023: “The Left wing gender insanity being pushed in our children is an act of child abuse. On day one, I will revoke Joe Biden’s cruel policies on so-called gender affirming care. Ridiculous. A process that includes giving kids puberty blockers, mutating their physical appearance and ultimately performing surgery on minor children. Can you believe this? I will sign a new executive order instructing every federal agency to cease all programs that promote the concept of sex and gender transition at any age. I will then ask Congress to permanently stop federal taxpayer dollars from being used to promote or pay for these procedures…No serious country should be telling its children that they were born with the wrong gender, a concept that was never heard of in all of human history. Nobody’s ever heard of this. What’s happening today. It was all when the radical left invented it just a few years ago.”

Trump has called for establishing that there are only two genders through the Department of Education and legislation.

  • June 30, 2023, Moms for Liberty Event: “I will also take historic action to defeat the toxic poison of gender ideology, to restore the timeless truth that God created two genders: male and female.”
  • Agenda47, Feb. 1, 2023: “My Department of Education will inform states and school districts that if any teacher or school official suggest to a child that they could be trapped in the wrong body, they will be faced with severe consequences. I will ask Congress to pass a bill establishing that the only genders recognized by the United States government are male and female, and they are assigned at birth.” “The bill will also make clear that Title 9 prohibits men from participating in women’s sports.”

Trump refers to gender-affirming care as “child sexual mutilation” and says he will impose a national ban.

  • Agenda47, Feb. 1, 2023: I will “pass a law prohibiting child sexual mutilation in all 50 states.”
  • Agenda47, Feb. 1, 2023: “The left-wing gender insanity being pushed at our children is an act of child abuse. Very simple. Here’s my plan to stop the chemical, physical and emotional mutilation of our youth.”

In the edition of the tracker published on Just Security, the authors suggest several bipartisan solutions to autocratic threats. Read them here.

Up next:

U.S. democracy is at a dangerous inflection point—from the demise of abortion rights, to a lack of pay equity and parental leave, to skyrocketing maternal mortality, and attacks on trans health. Left unchecked, these crises will lead to wider gaps in political participation and representation. For 50 years, Ms. has been forging feminist journalism—reporting, rebelling and truth-telling from the front-lines, championing the Equal Rights Amendment, and centering the stories of those most impacted. With all that’s at stake for equality, we are redoubling our commitment for the next 50 years. In turn, we need your help, Support Ms. today with a donation—any amount that is meaningful to you. For as little as $5 each month, you’ll receive the print magazine along with our e-newsletters, action alerts, and invitations to Ms. Studios events and podcasts. We are grateful for your loyalty and ferocity.

About , , , , and

Ambassador Norman Eisen (ret.) served in the White House as special counsel and special assistant to the president for ethics and government reform and as ambassador to the Czech Republic under President Barack Obama, as well as special counsel to the House Judiciary Committee from 2019–20, including for the first impeachment and trial of President Donald Trump. He’s on X/Twitter at @NormEisen.
Ruth Ben-Ghiat is professor of history and Italian studies at New York University. She writes about fascism, authoritarianism and propaganda—and the threats these present to democracies around the world.
Siven Watt is a legal fellow at Just Security. He’s on X/Twitter at @SivenWatt .
Andrew Warren has served as the duly-elected state attorney in Tampa, Fla., since 2016. Warren previously served as a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Department of Justice. He’s on X/Twitter at @AndrewWarrenFL. .
Jacob Kovacs-Goodman is an elections and technology lawyer. He’s on X/Twitter at @JNKGoodman.
Francois Barrilleaux is a research assistant at State Democracy Defenders Action where he project manages amicus briefs, op-eds and legal essays. He’s on X/Twitter at @FrenchwaEB.