At the same rally where his father encouraged supporters to march on the U.S. Capitol, Donald Trump Jr. lambasted transgender athletes.
Trump Jr. stirred the crowd on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., Wednesday by citing a recent study that suggested trans female athletes retain an advantage over cisgender women and girls for a year after beginning hormone treatment.
“That shows you the mentality of where the Democratic Party is,” he said. “They spent money on a study that came to the incredible conclusion yesterday that trans women playing female sports have a competitive advantage. No shit! Who could have seen that coming?” The clip was captured by Fox News, which cut away from his speech just after that remark. It was shared on Twitter by Justin Baragona of the Daily Beast.
Lead author Timothy Roberts, a pediatrician in Kansas City, Mo., told NBC News the Democratic Party did not fund the study, which was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. He also said its findings were more complex than Trump Jr.’s characterization.
“I encourage everyone to read the article for a more nuanced view of our findings,” Roberts said. For an earlier report on the study, he had told NBC he would propose a two-year waiting period after beginning hormone treatment for trans women athletes competing at elite levels, such as the Olympics, which currently requires a one-year wait. After two years, the study found, “they were fairly equivalent to the cisgender women,” he said.
For nonprofessional trans female athletes, a one-year waiting period is sufficient, he said: “There’s a whole lot of people playing recreational sports, and very few people get to be pros, so just let them play.” He added that his study was on adults — the average age was 26 — and that a trans female who transitions before or during puberty “doesn’t really have any advantage” over cis ones in athletic performance.
Some other scientists say trans females do not have an inherent advantage over cis ones in sports, and they have pointed out that athletes, male or female, transgender or cisgender, can have competitive advantages for many reasons besides hormones such as testosterone, including body size, access to training, and more. Roberts acknowledged that as well.
“LeBron James’s kids have access to the best coaches and the best facilities with the best equipment. They’re going to have an advantage over somebody,” he said. “And all of those people are still in the same competition.”
Also, cisgender women with certain medical conditions can have higher testosterone levels than other cis women, he said. “The playing field has never been totally level,” he told NBC. And Joanna Harper, a scientist who is a trans woman and an athlete, told the network Roberts’s study has sound metholodology but some of its findings could be affected by the timing of tests and other issues.
In any case, Trump Jr.’s words, like those of his father, stirred up a mob who left the mall for the capitol, where many of them looted and vandalized offices and other areas, and Congress had to interrupt a joint session where members were certifying Joe Biden’s Electoral College win, returning late at night to do so. At least five people, including a Capitol Police officer, have died as a result of the siege. Many legislators and organizations have called for Trump Sr.’s removal from office because of his complicity in the carnage.
Trump Jr.’s other remarks at the rally included making fun of gender-inclusive language and saying the U.S. is giving “$10 million to Pakistan on gender studies … and billions elsewhere that is driven by the insanity of the left.” He also called trans women athletes “men,” saying, “Men are dominating women’s sports.”
Some conservative lawmakers have used such rhetoric to try to prevent trans women from competing in women’s sports in schools, but so far legislation in Congress has not advanced, and an Idaho state law to that effect has been blocked in court.