President Trump hasn't always been on this side of the transgender rights issue

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February 23, 2017 03:55 PM

President Donald Trump‘s administration on Wednesday revoked Obama-era guidelines telling public schools to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their gender identities.

But Trump hasn’t always been on this side of the transgender rights issue.

In April 2016, after North Carolina enacted HB2, a sweeping law banning people from using bathrooms that don’t match the sex indicated on their birth certificate, Trump said the state had made a mistake.

Transgender people should “use the bathroom they feel is appropriate,” Trump, then the GOP presidential frontrunner, said on the Today show at the time.

“North Carolina did something that was very strong. And they’re paying a big price,” he added, referencing the then-growing economic boycott against the state.

“There’s a big move to create new bathrooms” for transgender people alone, Trump continued. “First of all, I think that would be discriminatory in a certain way. It would be unbelievably expensive for businesses and for the country. Leave it the way it is … There have been very few complaints the way it is.”

Asked at the time whether he would be comfortable with Caitlyn Jenner using any bathroom of her choosing at Trump Tower, he replied, “That is correct.” (Jenner took Trump up on his offer the following week, visiting the ladies’ room at Trump Tower with no issue and thanking Trump afterwards.)

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But Trump quickly back-tracked later that day after facing criticism from social conservatives, including his Republican primary rival Sen. Ted Cruz, who accused Trump of backing a position that would endanger young girls.

Just hours after speaking out against the HB2 law, Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity that the matter should be left to the states.

“I think that local communities and states should make the decision,” he said. “And I feel very strongly about that. The federal government should not be involved.”

Asked to clarify whether he was saying that states should be allowed to decide whether to implement the law, Trump said “absolutely.”

During an interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live! in May 2016, Trump was pressed by host Jimmy Kimmel to give his personal stance on HB2.

He declined, and said, “What I support is, let the states decide, and I think the states will do hopefully the right thing.”

Asked what he considered to be the right thing, Trump said he didn’t know yet.

When accepting his party’s nomination at the Republican convention in June 2016, Trump vowed to protect “our LGBTQ community” if elected.

“As your president, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology,” he said at the time.

The comments came shortly after the attack at a gay nightclub in Orlando that killed 49 people. Trump also inexplicably thanked the “LGBT” community on Twitter after the attack:

But in July 2016 he threw even more support behind HB2, telling Colin Campbell of Raleigh, North Carolina’s News and Observer, “The state, they know what’s going on, they see what’s happening and generally speaking I’m with the state on things like this.”

“I’ve spoken with your governor, I’ve spoken with a lot of people and I’m going with the state,” he added of former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory.

Trump’s latest move withdrawals federal protections for transgender students issued by the Obama administration last May. The guidelines had already been put on hold by a federal judge after 13 states filed a lawsuit against them.

The two-page letter the Trump administration issued to public schools on Wednesday does not offer new guidance.

The White House said in a statement Wednesday night, “As President Trump has clearly stated, he believes policy regarding transgender bathrooms should be decided at the state level. The joint decision made today by the Department of Justice and the Department of Education returning power to the states paves the way for an open and inclusive process to take place at the local level with input from parents, students, teachers and administrators.”

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