Caitlyn Jenner Heads To Cleveland To Celebrate “Republicans Who Advocate For LGBT Freedom,” Confusing Us All
There’s a reason feminists and LGBTQ rights advocates have something of a love-hate relationship with transgender icon Caitlyn Jenner. We all deeply admire her courage because, let’s be real, no matter what your race or socioeconomic background, it’s not easy to be trans in a world overrun with cisgender privilege, especially with the ridiculous transgender bathroom debate still raging for whatever reason in the background. But at the same time, from offering support to known bigots like Republicans Ted Cruz and Donald Trump and proudly identifying as a Republican, Jenner’s political stances tend to be problematic. The latest example of this? Jenner will go to Cleveland for the Republican Convention later this month.
Jenner told The Daily Beast that while she will not actually attend the convention at Quicken Loans Arena, she will be making non-RNC affiliated appearances in the area, including a brunch and Q&A session with the purpose of calling for the Republican Party to support the LGBTQ community.
“The party conventions are like the political Olympics, and I’m excited to be headed to Cleveland to stand with my fellow LGBT Republicans and allies,” Jenner told The Daily Beast. Whether or not she’ll find any LGBTQ allies among Republicans gathered in Cleveland this month is to be seen, but her optimism is admirable.
Jenner then went into further detail about her goals for her party:
“As a proud Republican and transgender woman, I want to support courageous Republicans who advocate for LGBT freedom. Our country’s nondiscrimination laws must be updated and this cannot be achieved without bipartisan support. Congress needs to act, along with almost thirty Republican states, to update our nondiscrimination laws. I want to do my part to persuade more Republicans to support freedom for millions of LGBT Americans.”
Jenner has previously voiced her bizarre intent on becoming a “trans ambassador” for Cruz, who’s literally among the most intolerant, homophobic, and transphobic politicians in the nation (which is saying a lot when you consider how many there are), whom she called “very nice.” For some additional perspective, Cruz has previously characterized the Obama administration’s support of trans students as “lunacy” and perversely identified it as tantamount to “trying to force [school districts] to let boys shower with little girls.”
In the whole transgender bathroom debate, Cruz has consistently and ignorantly cast trans women like Jenner herself as a hazard to little girls, when the simple reality is that transgender individuals are far more likely to face harassment and abuse in bathrooms, while there has yet to be a recorded incident of a transgender person harassing a cis-gender person in a bathroom.
In addition, Jenner has said she thinks Trump, who has previously flirted with the idea of punishing women for having abortions and allegedly sexually harassing many a woman in his life “would be very good for women’s issues.” Jenner even supports him over Clinton, claiming back in March, “If Hillary becomes President, the country is over.”
It’s worth noting that Jenner is not obligated to be a role model or even a vocal advocate for transgender rights, just as we shouldn’t place the burden of representing their whole race on individuals of color. But feminism and activism in general are both all about looking past your own privilege, whether that is sexual, racial, or, in Jenner’s case, economic, and being an ally to those who lack this privilege.
I respect Jenner’s efforts to encourage fellow Republicans to be more progressive on trans rights. However, that she could continue to stand by the party at all while it continues to systemically marginalize and dehumanize trans people around the country just for wanting to use the bathroom without considering the negative effects of Republican policies on poor or PoC transgender people is more than a little disappointing.
Challenging everyone, regardless of their party preference, to be more inclusive of the trans community is important, but a better option already exists in the Democratic party, which has consistently opposed the discriminatory laws advocated for by Republicans, most of whom are literally still against marriage equality (get over it — it’s settled).
In other slightly unrelated but deeply satisfying news, Jenner is one of few famous people expressing support for or planning to attend the Republican Convention, which Mic reports is struggling to get speakers on board. George H.W. Bush and his son George W. Bush, as well as recent presidential nominee Mitt Romney and former Republican presidential candidate Ohio Governor John Kasich, have all declined to attend, while major companies are pulling their financial support from the convention. This is all to be expected when your nominee is an unapologetic bigot. If only Jenner saw it this way, too.