This week, President Trump “rescinded protections for transgender students that had allowed them to use bathrooms corresponding with their gender identity,” reported The New York Times. The protections were put in place by the Obama administration to protect transgender schoolkids from discrimination, and their removal—spearheaded by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, amid objections from Education Secretary Betsy DeVos—proved highly controversial. “I have a message for President Trump from, well, one Republican to another,” trans celebrity Caitlyn Jenner said in a Twitter video to Trump. “This is a disaster. And you can still fix it. You made a promise to protect the LGBTQ community.”
On Sunday evening’s edition of Last Week Tonight, host John Oliver did what his HBO station-mate Bill Maher wouldn’t: chastised President Trump for his bigoted anti-trans order. “Yes, it seems one-by-one Trump is delivering on his promise to make entire subsets of the American citizenry concerned about their safety and well-being again,” said Oliver. “This is gratuitous in so many ways. The [trans] guidelines had already been suspended last summer, and there’s a Supreme Court case that may settle many of these issues—on top of which, all the guidelines recommended was that students be called by their preferred name and pronoun, be allowed to use the restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity, and, regardless of gender, be allowed to wear a tux to prom or a dress in yearbook photos, which is a good rule.”
“If the government wants to address an actual problem with yearbooks, maybe ban quotes by Dave Matthews,” Oliver jokingly added.
Transgender people in America are already subject to incredibly harsh conditions. According to the U.S. government’s Office for Victims of Crime, “One in two transgender individuals are sexually abused or assaulted at some point in their lives. Some reports estimate that transgender survivors may experience rates of sexual assault up to 66 percent, often coupled with physical assaults or abuse. This indicates that the majority of transgender individuals are living with the aftermath of trauma and the fear of possible repeat victimization.” Furthermore, the mortality rate is disproportionately high for the trans community, and trans children, in particular, are subject to cruel bullying.
If that weren’t enough, “Anti-transgender rules like bathroom bills are almost always rooted in deep sexual fear-mongering: the idea that they would provide cover for predators to sneak into ladies’ locker rooms, despite the fact there is virtually no evidence of that happening,” stated Oliver. Indeed, according to Politifact NC, there have been “virtually no cases of sexual predators benefitting from transgender anti-discrimination laws” in the U.S.
Trump, on the other hand, is a different story. “What there are reports of are of Trump himself barging in on women—and teenagers—who competed in his pageants while they changed. Something that, in characteristic style, he has both denied and been recorded on tape bragging about,” shared Oliver.
The comedian then threw to an audio clip of Trump’s appearance on The Howard Stern Show from April 11, 2005, where he boasted about the practice of walking in on women as they changed.
“I’ll go backstage before a show and everyone’s getting dressed and ready and everything else. And you know, no men are anywhere,” Trump told Stern. “And I’m allowed to go in because I’m the owner of the pageant and therefore I’m inspecting it. You know, they’re standing there with no clothes. ‘Is everybody okay?’ And you see these incredible-looking women. And so, I sort of get away with things like that.”
Miss Arizona 2001, Tasha Dixon, corroborated Trump’s admission, alleging he came “waltzing in” on nude female contestants as they changed, while BuzzFeed News interviewed four women—at least one as young as 15—in the 1997 Miss Teen USA pageant who claimed that Trump entered their dressing room while they changed. “I remember putting on my dress really quick because I was like, ‘Oh my god, there’s a man in here,’” Mariah Billado, a former Miss Vermont Teen USA, told the news site, adding that Trump remarked, “Don’t worry, ladies, I’ve seen it all before.”
In light of all this, Oliver delivered a stern message to Trump: “Yeah, you do seem to sort of get away with it, which is exactly why if we really want to protect women from predators, let’s stop wasting our time with pointless, vindictive bathroom laws and instead launch a military operation to ban the president himself from women’s rooms nationwide.”