Donald Trump has a message for bullying victims everywhere: Let it go.
The billionaire CEO sat down for an interview with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly, which aired on the cable network Tuesday night. During the exchange, Kelly asked Trump if he was ever bullied as a child. He responded that he had not been, but bullying isn’t solely a youth phenomenon. “People are bullied when they’re 55,” Trump said. Kelly, sensing the irony of the moment, replied with a coy smile: “Can happen when you’re 45.”
“You know, it happens, right?” Trump continued. “But you gotta get over it. Fight back, do whatever you have to do.”
Prior to the interview, Trump had been engaged in a bitter, long-standing feud with the Fox News personality. During the first GOP debate, held in August 2015, Kelly asked the presumptive Republican nominee about his history of calling women he doesn’t like “fat pigs,” “dogs,” “slobs,” and “disgusting animals.”
“You once told a contestant on The Celebrity Apprentice it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees,” Kelly asked. “Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president?”
Trump responded by deflecting the question and railing against “political correctness.”
Later that evening, he would begin a nine-month long campaign of harassment against Kelly, tweeting that her conduct as “not very good or professional!” On Twitter, Trump has referred to her as “sick,” “overrated,” and a “bimbo” on numerous occasions. In January, the CEO dismissed comments in which Kelly said she wouldn’t be “wooed by Trump.” Trump tweeted, “She is so average in every way, who the hell wants to woo her!”
Most famously, Trump blamed Kelly’s scrutiny of his record on her period. In an interview with CNN's Don Lemon following the August debate, he said, “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.”
Kelly is far from the only target of Trump’s abuse. In a cover story for Rolling Stone, Donald Trump derided the electability of his then opponent — Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina — based on her looks. “Look at that face!” Trump told the magazine. “Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?”
He has further called supermodel Heidi Klum “no longer a 10” and media magnate Arianna Huffington a “liberal clown,” while deriding the veteran status of former presidential nominee John McCain. While speaking with Iowa’s Family Leadership Summit last July, Trump said of the Arizona Senator, “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured, OK? I hate to tell you.”
For LGBT viewers, however, it’s likely that Trump’s remarks on bullying will also be contextualized in light of the pervasive harassment and abuse that queer youth face.
Statistics from STOMP Out Bullying show that 9 out of 10 LGBT-identified students are bullied in school. Due to the harsh treatment they often face from other students, just 37 percent of non-heterosexual students report being happy, as opposed to 67 percent of their peers. LGBT youth are also four times more likely than their straight counterparts to attempt suicide.
On Monday, the presumptive Republican nominee said he would rescind the Department of Education's directive issued Friday by the Obama administration that assures that transgender students may not be discriminated against on the basis of their gender identity as well as a rule issued on the same day that health care providers must provide transgender people with transition-affirmative health care.
You can watch Megyn Kelly’s interview with Donald Trump below.