Former President Donald Trump told a Republican audience in Iowa Thursday that while he opposes progressive ideas on transgender rights, he doesn’t like using the term “woke” to describe them because too few people know , what that means.
Speaking to the Westside Conservative Club in Urbandale, Iowa, Trump described his reluctance to have children with gender dysphoria identified as a different sex and said the country had “gone sick.”
“And I don’t like the term ‘woke,’ because I hear ‘woke, woke, woke.'” said the 2024 GOP presidential candidate. “You know, it’s like a term that half the people can’t even define. You don’t know what it is.”
Trump is not the first to point out the vague definition of the terms “woke” or “wakeness”. Some centrists use it to describe a certain type of social justice ideology that they feel is too quick to label dissenting views as racist, sexist, or transphobic.
But conservatives often label any liberal idea or policy they don’t like as “woke,” leading progressives to dismiss it as a term of abuse for racial justice or other ideals.
It’s unclear if Trump plans to ditch the word “woke” for good, or if he’s just engaged in an impromptu altercation. He only has it on Sunday described Disney on his social media platform Truth Social as a “woke and disgusting shadow of his former self”.
But the comments could also be a subtle jab at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Trump’s biggest rival for the GOP presidential nomination. The governor regularly describes his right-wing Kulturkampf as a crusade against “wakefulness”. DeSantis, who has restricted discussions of gender and gender identity in school classrooms, proudly calls Florida the state “where ‘woke’ goes to die.”
Trump follows the conservative line on transgender rights and peppers his short speeches with jokes about transgender women participating in women’s sports.
But his attempt to rhetorically distance himself from DeSantis could be part of a broader strategy to avoid venturing into a niche corner of the online right.
Trump has slammed DeSantis for not getting his way in his protracted battle with Disney, whom DeSantis wanted to punish for defying his bills restricting discussion of sex and gender issues in the classroom. And Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. disappointed some conservative activists when he spoke up against the Bud Light boycott movement after the brand hired Dylan Mulvaney, a transgender woman, to speak for some ads.
“People say, ‘You’re conservative,'” Trump said Thursday. “Yes, I am conservative. But more importantly, I am a common sense person.”