Donald Trump blames gender-affirming healthcare – not guns – for violence in NRA speech

Former president Donald Trump wears a suit and tie as he stands at a podium and speaks into a microphone at the NRA annual conference

Former president Donald Trump vowed to use the government to investigate and potentially halt gender-affirming healthcare for trans people if re-elected in 2024 in an NRA speech.

Trump spoke at the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) annual conference in Indianapolis, Indiana on Friday (14 April), as part of a stampede of 2024 Republican presidential hopefuls vying to secure support from the several thousand gun-rights activists in attendance. 

Amid an epidemic of mass shootings in the US, Trump blamed everything but guns for the rise in violence, which he called a “mental health problem” and a “spiritual problem”. 

He then promised to direct the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to study the effects of gender-affirming healthcare and so-called “trans ideology” on mental health and “violence” should he step into the Oval Office as president in 2024. 

“Upon my inauguration, I will direct the FDA to convene – and it’s going to happen quickly – an independent outside panel to investigate whether transgender hormone treatments and ideology increase the risk of extreme depression, aggression and even violence,” Trump said. 

“I think most of us already know the answer,” he added. 

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Geoff Wetrosky, national campaign director for LGBTQ+ advocacy group the Human Rights Campaign, slammed “anti-equality extremist politicians”, “led by Trump”, for attacking trans people rather than addressing the real issues impacting the US. 

Wetrosky said this included the “scourge of gun violence, the leading killer of children and teens in America”.

“This weekend, in the wake of a number of mass shootings in places like Louisville and Nashville, Trump pandered to the gun lobby and again focused his ire on an already marginalised population in a desperate attempt to rile up his base,” Wetrosky said. 

“But we know that attacking LGBTQ+ people doesn’t win elections, as we saw in the 2022 midterms, and it won’t work in 2024.”

Trump’s speech perpetuated the baseless narrative that there’s been a rise in trans people committing violent attacks, such as mass shootings, in recent years. 

Donald Trump and his cronies claimed that gender identity was a factor that led a shooter to kill three kids and three adults at a school in Nashville, Tennessee in March. 

Trump, without evidence, connected the Nashville school shooting to gender-affirming hormone therapy during an interview with a conservative radio show

Former president Donald Trump wears a suit and tie as he stands at a podium and speaks into a microphone at the NRA annual conference
Donald Trump accused Democrats of ‘pushing the transgender cult’ on children in his NRA speech. (Getty)

Marjorie Taylor Greene, a diehard Trump supporter, also baselessly alleged hormone therapy may have played a role in the shooting despite there being no evidence that the shooter was undergoing such treatment.

It ignores the fact that the overwhelming majority of mass shooters in the US are cisgender men. Additionally, multiple studies have shown trans people are more likely to be victims of violence than cisgender people.

Trans people increasingly targeted by Republicans and right-wing groups

In his NRA speech, Trump also accused Democrats of “pushing the transgender cult” on children while “persecuting Christians” and “demonising patriots”. He went on to describe a hypothetical situation in which a trans adult regretted accessing gender-affirming healthcare as a child. 

Despite Trump’s claims, research has found gender-affirming healthcare can be life-saving and leads to better mental health outcomes for trans people. 

In updated treatment guidelines issued last year, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health said evidence of later regret of accessing gender-affirming healthcare is scant in trans patients. 

Trump, who was indicted in April on business fraud charges, is no stranger to using the trans community as a political punching bag.

During his presidency, Trump banned trans people from serving in the military, and denied trans people equal access to emergency shelters

The former president opened his re-election campaign with a promise to ban gender-affirming healthcare for trans youth, punish hospitals that provide such treatments and push for a federal law recognising only two genders.