Support local journalism. Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz can't support transgender protections because Trump could declare himself 'first female president'

Posted By on Tue, Apr 2, 2019 at 6:54 PM

U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz actually argued at a House Judiciary Committee hearing that as much as he would like to protect transgender people from the real fears of housing and employment discrimination, he just can't based on the vanishingly unlikely chance that President Donald Trump could then declare himself the "first female president."

The Florida Republican dropped this contrived bit of whataboutery at a Tuesday hearing for the Equality Act, a bill that would prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ people on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation by including them under the definition of "sex" in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Gaetz, who just voted no on the Paycheck Fairness Act to reduce the gender wage gap and has a long history of voting against reproductive rights, argued that implementing the law would hurt women.

"I believe that individuals in our country should not face discrimination for their sex or for their gender or their sexual orientation or [their] gender identity," Gaetz says. "I very much want to support the legislation, but I can't because the legislation would only nominally protect certain individuals while causing tremendous harm to others."

Gaetz's premise relies on "bad actors" that could "weaponize" equality laws to personally benefit themselves, an offensive myth about trans and gender non-conforming people that has been debunked numerous times.

"I strongly support the rights of transgender individuals," Gaetz says. "I will not denigrate or deny their existence or their struggles but I am concerned about the potential of bad actors who would exploit the provisions of this law for their own gain. Consider this possibility: If President Trump were to say, 'I am now the first female president,' who would celebrate that? Would those who support the legislation think that's a good thing or would they be dismayed?"

Gaetz may have thought he was "triggering the libs" with this winner of an argument, but all he did was prove he can't imagine a world where people can decide later in life to be who they've always felt they are, which is pretty transphobic.

"I support protecting individuals from discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity but this legislation creates more problems than it solves," Gaetz says. "It will chill freedom of speech. It will harm religious liberty. It will undermine women's rights, and I wish I could support it but I can't."

Rep. Val Demings, D-Orlando, who is a co-sponsor of the bill, made it clear she had no time for Gaetz's concern trolling at the hearing.

"Just saying that you support equal rights or women's rights or civil rights isn't enough, because the American people are always watching what you do," she says.

The false argument from Republicans that some trans and gender non-conforming people could be trying to game the system ignores the reality.  Nearly a quarter of trans people say they have experienced some form of housing discrimination, and 30 percent have been fired, denied promotions or otherwise experienced discrimination at their jobs, according to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey. The same survey found that 46 percent of trans people reported being verbally harassed in the past year for being transgender and almost one in 10 were physically attacked over their identity.

"We've heard about discrimination in housing, we've heard about discrimination in employment, we've heard about discrimination on so many different areas that are necessary to living a quality life in this country," Demings argues. "Yet, we're overruling all of that based on this belief that there may somehow be discrimination in the area of sports. I played sports, and I do not believe it takes precedence over my ability to love whomever I want to, to live wherever I want to live, to work wherever my qualities as an individual take me or to be my authentic self."

Stay on top of Orlando news and views. Sign up for our weekly Headlines newsletter.

Tags: , , , , , ,

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club for as little as $5 a month.


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Read the Digital Print Issue

January 26, 2022

View more issues


© 2022 Orlando Weekly

Website powered by Foundation