And I’m not saying this as some sort of protest, either. I can understand how it might look like that; the election has sparked rage in many, and inspired both actual protests and a great deal of protest art, the quality of which, to say the least, varies wildly. But I am neither mistaken nor insincere; I am, in perfect good faith, discussing our democratically elected president, leader of the free world, untroubled be her reign and magnanimous her administration.
Yes, that’s right: I’m saying Donald Trump is trans.
I know, it’s a startling assertion to make. But let me break it down for you.
Trump behaves in a hypermasculine manner, extremely common in closeted trans women who act more masculine as a rejection of their gender-nonconformity, to hide their transness from those who would hurt them for it, or to convince themselves there’s nothing wrong. (In a striking example of this, the military has almost twice the percentage of trans women as the civilian population, despite the fact that transgender people have only very recently ceased to be officially barred from the armed forces.) She often brags about her sexual conquests, playing up her prowess and her masculine desirability; our society accords sexually successful men higher status, and considers them to be more masculine. She also brags about her accomplishments in the field of business, a stereotypically male-coded career field, and ostentatiously adorns her various properties, covering them in gold and emblazoning her name throughout. (Note, also, that it’s her last name, rather than her first or even her full name, that she chooses to use – last names aren’t gendered in the way her first name is.)
In a more harmful manifestation of her hypermasculine behavior, Trump has frequently made derogatory public comments about the appearance of (fellow?) women, a behavior that, while problematic, does suggest some deeper issues with femininity. Embittered by dysphoria, some closeted trans women may lash out against cis women, jealous of those who were born with the femininity that some trans women may feel is unattainable; this is especially likely if, as with Trump, they do not concern themselves overmuch with others’ feelings. By mocking cis women’s appearances, Trump could be trying to convince herself that what they have is not worth having. Of course, this has many negative externalities, and we should not excuse the very real distress she’s caused solely because we believe her to have been motivated partly by her own psychological distress, but we should also take the time to empathize with her.
In contrast to her negativity towards women, Trump’s stance on transgender issues is far kinder: perhaps her most highly-publicized opinion on this issue is her statement that trans people should use whichever bathroom they feel most comfortable in, and North Carolina’s controversial bathroom bill had caused problems where there had been none before. She has also, when speaking on transgender issues in an interview with the Washington Post, said that trans rights are “something where we have to help people,” characterizing the situation as being “a people thing” rather than an issue of civil rights. This may seem dismissive on the face of it, but in fact her simple acceptance of trans people as being, first and foremost, people, whose protection should be a foregone conclusion, shows far more nuance and care than would treating trans rights as an issue of politics. It also exemplifies the directness her supporters so often praise, and frankly I find it to be, yes, refreshing. Trump’s reputation is quite negative, and she’s often castigated for perceived clumsy phrasing or unintentional bigotry; but here, at least, she shines. In the same interview, she said that trans issues are “actually a very interesting subject” and that she’s “studying [the issues] very closely.” While this is commendable, it seems she already has a far better handle than most on the topic, even without taking into account the possibility that she’s trans.
So. Let’s say I’m right, and Donald Trump, president of the United States of America, is a trans woman. How should we proceed, given this knowledge? I would argue that we should, first, be proud. Trump is imperfect, but she is also both America’s first female president and its first transgender president. This is a historic moment, and I for one am grateful that I have the chance to be here. Furthermore, the example her presidency serves as will likely open doors throughout America for women, trans people, and – since Trump’s status as a woman naturally renders her desire for women lesbian in nature – gay and bi people. In a very real sense, she will be making America great again, restoring it to the status it once laid claim to as a haven for the oppressed and downtrodden – but this time around, the many bigotries and resultant atrocities that underlaid that promise in the past to such an extent that it was rendered hollow for all but a privileged few, while not completely gone, have had their worst forms eliminated and many of their lesser ones reduced in magnitude, and with her presidency, Trump will be able to extend the freedom and security that is the heart of America to populations that were once not even considered, or, if they were considered, were viewed as a threat to be eliminated.
In short, Donald – or, should I say, Donna – Trump will not only restore America to its former glories, but will far surpass them. For this, she deserves our adulation; but she also deserves our sympathy. The life of a closeted trans woman is not an easy one, and when and if she chooses to leave it behind she will be facing an entirely new set of challenges. Not only will she be openly living as a woman for the first time in her life, she will be openly living as a transgender president for the first time in history. As such, she may run into roadblocks that have never yet been faced, and thus be forced to overcome them on her own, unable to draw on the knowledge of the transgender community. Furthermore, it’s possible that bigots may see this as potential grounds for an impeachment, and while such an attempt would surely fail, it could hardly be expected not to disrupt her presidential duties, not to mention the personal distress it would likely cause.
However, I hope and believe that Trump can rise above these challenges to take her place, not just as America’s first female or trans or lesbian president, but as one of its best. Donna Trump can make America great, and I am proud to say that yes, she is my president.
“Donald Trump Calls For Dismissal Of LGBT Bathroom Bill: ‘Leave It The Way It Is’,” TODAY (NBC) 21 April 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3dXBeUxvkW8
“Still Serving in Silence: Transgender Service Members and Veterans in the National Transgender Discrimination Survey,” Jack Harrison-Quintana and Jody L. Herman, LGBTQ Policy Journal at the Harvard Kennedy School Volume 3, 2012-2013. http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/Harrison-Quintana-Herman-LGBTQ-Policy-Journal-2013.pdf
“Transsexuals in the Military: Flight Into Hypermasculinity,” George R. Brown, Archives of Sexual Behavior Volume 17 Number 6, 1988. http://www.courthousenews.com/2012/03/13/FlightIntoHyperM.pdf
“Trump: Rescind Obama’s transgender directives, but ‘protect everybody’,” Philip Rucker and Robert Costa, The Washington Post 16 May 2016. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2016/05/16/trump-rescind-obamas-transgender-directives-but-protect-everybody/