The Sad Truth Caitlyn Jenner Ignored About The GOP’s Homo/Transphobia In Cleveland
Reality TV star and transgender icon Caitlyn Jenner is controversial to different people for different reasons. To more intolerant crowds, those reasons are obvious, and to feminists and progressives, there’s her unapologetic alignment with the Republican Party. Jenner has even said herself “it was harder to come out as a Republican” than to “come out as trans.” After being asked if she is a “real Republican” at a Wednesday brunch in Cleveland, which Jenner is visiting for the Republican National Convention this week, she acknowledged the GOP’s intolerant policies, but there was still one major thing Jenner missed about the GOP and LGBTQ rights.
“The Democratic Party does a better job when it comes to [the] LGBT community, the trans community, and Obama has been very good from that standpoint,” Jenner, who identifies as socially liberal but fiscally conservative, conceded. “But I think the Republican Party needs to understand, they need to know people who are trans. … I’m here today so you, since most people don’t know somebody who’s trans, get to know somebody.”
Essentially, it appears Jenner remains loyal to a party of bigotry for two main reasons. Firstly, there’s her support for the party’s conservative economic platform, small government, and increasingly weak claims of protecting individual liberties. Then, there’s her problematic belief that Republicans’ bigoted, anti-LGBTQ laws and rhetoric merely stem from misunderstanding, which she seems to believe can be easily fixed.
There’s no denying that there is a lot that the Republican Party doesn’t understand about the LGBTQ community and the issues they face. Most party leaders barely seem to realize gay or trans individuals are, actually, human beings with constitutional rights. The other day, in an interview with The Hill, former Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson denied that gender dysphoria was a thing. Being transgender, Carson reasoned, is “the same as if you woke up and said, ‘I’m Afghani today because I saw a movie about that last night.'”
Misunderstanding is, clearly, a pretty critical issue, but the ultimate issue at hand is that conservative politicians are unwilling to open their minds and try to understand, identify with, and represent LGBTQ people. This renders the task of changing their minds, let alone their garbage policies, almost impossible. As morbid as this might sound, it could be argued that the real solution here is to let the party of predominantly old, white men die out and offer your support to political leaders who are actually willing to recognize your humanity. The Democratic Party might have its shortcomings, but at least it boasts tolerant leaders and constituents.
Additionally worth noting is how support for conservative economic policies tends to overlook not only how this destroys the economy for pretty much everyone, but ultimately how this throws poorer members of the LGBTQ community under the bus. Jenner’s vast economic privilege has rendered her experience as a transgender woman very different from those of transgender people with far less money. She’s previously demonstrated her lack of understanding of this, once claiming trans women shouldn’t “look like a man in a dress,” failing to consider how most trans people are unable to afford the same procedures she paid for with ease.
Jenner has since apologized for her words, but nonetheless, it’s worth noting how her economic privilege and, thus, her political views, render her not fully representative of the trans community.
Still, that Jenner is acknowledging that the Democratic Party is far more favorable to the LGBTQ community and is pledging to push Republicans left on social issues like LGBTQ rights (although this won’t do much for poorer members of the LGBTQ community), is a step in the right direction. Additionally, she’s acknowledged how terrible and ignorant conservative transgender bathroom laws are, noting that “all the laws that are on the books right now protect people in bathrooms,” and it’s illegal for a man to assault someone “whether he’s wearing a Laker uniform or a dress.”
Laws meant to protect people in the bathroom are more likely to help transgender than cisgender people. Where there have been no recorded instances of transgender people attacking cisgender people in bathrooms, they regularly face harassment and abuse just for trying to do what cisgender people can do freely.
“Maybe what we should do is ban Republicans at a state level [from bathrooms] if we’re trying to protect people,” Jenner suggested. While this proposal was likely a joke, it certainly drives home the point that where the LGBTQ community has consistently been peaceful, it’s Republicans who have been leading a war on their rights.