Former US president Donald Trump has vowed to crack down on “transgender insanity” and pledged to “revoke every Biden policy promoting the disfigurement of our youth”.
At the first rally of his 2024 presidential campaign on Saturday in Waco, Texas, Trump doubled down on a vow he made last month to revoke his successor’s policies on gender-affirming care for transgender children.
Trump said that he would “keep men out of women’s sports” if re-elected president, after he last year misgendered transgender athlete Lia Thomas.
The former president said he would also support and “fight for parents’ rights, including universal school choice”.
He added: “I will immediately sign an executive order to cut federal funding for any school pushing critical race theory, transgender insanity, and other racial, sexual or political content on our children.”
Trump’s comments came after a slew of state-level bills targeting healthcare for transgender youth across the United States.
Human Rights Campaign president Kelley Robinson has described the wave of legislation as “historically bad” and that it is wasting “energy attacking so few and most vulnerable.”
Trump also used the rally to hit on a number of other culture war issues, including Covid mask mandates and border security, before attacking his likely Republican rival Ron DeSantis.
However, the largest portion of his nearly two-hour speech was dedicated to attacking the multiple investigations that have put him in potential legal jeopardy.
He told the thousands of fans gathered for the rally that the administration of Democratic President Joe Biden was guilty of orchestrating his criminal prosecution to undermine his bid for the White House.
“The Biden regime’s weaponization of law enforcement against their political opponents is something straight out of the Stalinist Russia horror show,” Trump said. “From the beginning it’s been one witch hunt and phony investigation after another.”
On DeSantis, Trump said: “I’m not a big fan. Florida has been tremendously successful for many years, long before this guy became governor.”
The speech at times veered into apocalyptic tropes, with Trump speaking of “demonic forces” trying to demolish the country, which he said was at risk of falling into a “lawless abyss” unless he is voted back into the White House.
“Either the deep state destroys America, or we destroy the deep state,” he added. “We’re at a very pivotal point in our country.”
The former president is being investigated by prosecutors in Manhattan for campaign finance violations stemming his alleged payment of hush money to an adult film actress ahead of the 2016 election.
A special counsel appointed by the Department of Justice is investigating allegations he hoarded top-secret documents and masterminded a plot seeking to overturn the 2020 election. A parallel effort by prosecutors in Georgia is also examining his 2020 actions.
Additional reporting by agencies