The Caitlyn Jenner Paradox

(Photo: Vanity Fair)

Can you really be a transgender Republican?
On a recent episode of “The Ellen Degeneres Show”, Ellen asked Caitlyn Jenner her opinion on gay marriage. Jenner replied ambiguously, “If the word marriage is really that important to you, I can go with it.”

It seems difficult to take Caitlyn Jenner seriously. She is a transgender woman yet she is not 100 percent supportive of gay marriage and, moreover, is a staunch supporter of the Republican Party. How can she expect the world to accept her for who she is when she cannot find a way to accept others for who they are? And how can she support a political party that goes against everything she represents?

Jenner has explained time after time that she is “traditional” and that she is a “proud Republican”. The Republican Party has pushed and considered various transgender bills. For example, one of the Republican Party’s new ideas is to pass an “anti-transgender bathroom bill”. According to an article in The Guardian, the bill would allow people to sue for up to $4,000 if a transgender person uses the same bathroom. Maybe because Jenner can afford to pay the fine — even as absurd as it is — she doesn’t feel compelled to oppose it. However, Jenner has claimed to be an icon and symbol of support for the transgender community. How are the others supposed to deal with this sort of punishment? True, Jenner implied in an interview with Mara Kiesling that she would help in the fight against “knucklehead Republicans” who believe in something as absurd as a bathroom bill, but Jenner has yet to campaign against it. While the bill is allegedly be dead, who knows what the Republicans will come up with next.

The Republican Party has traditionally been against LGBT issues. In fact, Ted Cruz has even gone so far as to say that a Supreme Court ruling in favour of marriage equality would be “fundamentally illegitimate”. It can be assumed that this tough stance against gay marriage would also result in the same rejection of those who identify as transgender. Can Caitlyn Jenner possibly be respected by her beloved party if its leaders and representatives don’t see her as a “legitimate” person? Sure, maybe Jenner doesn’t agree with everything that the Republicans stand for; and sure, maybe she doesn’t respect Ted Cruz for being so anti-LGBT. But that does not change the fact that Jenner has also been on the fence about supporting marriage equality in America and around the world. While in her interview with Diane Sawyer she mentioned that she was a conservative republican because she believes in the constitution, it is questionable whether the LGBT community will be able to take her seriously as a spokesperson for transgender people.

Now, not all LGBT people are Democrats. However, if a transgender woman that is as famous as Caitlyn Jenner wants to be known as an icon and source of inspiration for the transgender community it is imperative that she speaks out and actively campaigns against the traditional anti-LGBT stances of the Republican Party. While Jenner may loyally support the Republicans for other policies and beliefs, it is important that she supports her own community at the same time. As the saying goes, the personal is political.

Being a Republican does not necessarily mean you have to agree with everything that the Republicans stand for. However, when someone is as famous as Caitlyn Jenner, support for her own community should be vocal and unequivocal – especially when she asks for the same understanding and support from others.

This article was originally published on The Peacock Plume on September 17th, 2015.

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