Donald Trump called the transgender experience in America "a very interesting subject," but nonetheless vowed to rescind the Obama administration's non-discrimination efforts aimed at the trans community if he is elected president.
The Republican candidate, 69, offered a few vague and unspecific thoughts about the movement for transgender rights in a Washington Post interview Tuesday, but noted that the U.S. government must act "to protect all people."
"It is a very, very small portion of the population, but as I said, you have to protect everybody, including small portions of the population," he said in the interview.
Access to health care and appropriate restrooms for transgender people should be addressed at the state level, rather than the federal level, he said.
"I think we have to help people," he said. "I don’t view it as civil rights or not civil rights. I think it’s something where we have to help people — and hopefully the states will make the right decisions.”
As to whether or not he had any personal experience working with members of the trans community, Trump noted, “Now, I may not know about it, but I do not think I have any exposure to it from the standpoint of knowing people."
Trump's remarks came in response to the Obama administration's May 13 directive aimed at combating discrimination against transgender Americans in schools and health care coverage.
The move sparked the ire of a number of Republican lawmakers, including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who blasted Obama for "turning bathrooms into courtroom issues" in advising schools nationwide that they must allow transgender students access to bathroom facilities that correspond with their gender identity, the Associated Press reports.
Abbott said he was working closely with North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory to "fight back" against the directive. McCrory, of course, has been at the epicenter of controversy after he signed North Carolina's House Bill 2 into law on March 23. Dubbed the "bathroom bill," HB 2 effectively bans transgender people from using the bathroom consistent with their gender identity and also prohibits cities from implementing non-discrimination measures.
At an April town hall-style event in New York, however, Trump said he thought transgender people should be allowed to “use the bathroom they feel is appropriate,” including at Trump Tower. Days later, trans icon Caitlyn Jenner filmed a short video of herself dropping by the Trump Tower in Manhattan to use the women's restroom.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump