Caitlyn Jenner Is Finally Condemning Trump. What Took Her So Long?
Caitlyn Jenner has changed her mind about Trump.
She has never made that clearer than she during her diversity speech at the UK House of Commons this week when she said that the president she once supported has set the transgender community “back 20 years,” as Deadline and other outlets noted.
That speech comes on the heels a March Newsweek interview in which the transgender advocate and former Olympian expressed a similar sentiment, acknowledging that the Trump administration “has been the worst ever” on “trans issues.”
“They've set our community back 20 years, easily,” she told Newsweek. “It's going to be hard to change, but we've been through these types of things before and we'll continue to fight it.”
But Jenner's place within that fight remains a source of controversy for the transgender community. She may have changed her mind about Trump, but it may be years before the transgender community changes its mind about her—if that day ever comes.
That was made obvious by the controversy surrounding Jenner's selection to address the House of Commons in the first place, following in the footsteps of British actors Idris Elba and Riz Ahmed, who delivered the first two lectures in the series.
A petition requesting that Channel 4, which sponsored the speech, replace Jenner with a transgender person from the UK gathered over 1,000 signatures.
British transgender advocates, who are in the midst of fighting against a press that wants to frame their very humanity as a subject of two-sided “debate,” warned that Jenner would be ill-suited to speak to their situation.
“Jenner's life story is as far removed from what British politicians need to be hearing and considering on this ‘issue,” wrote British transgender writer Shon Faye on Twitter.
It's a feeling that many transgender people in the United States, myself included, know well: The awkwardness, the frustration, even the anger, of watching the world view Caitlyn Jenner as a metonym for my entire community, most members of which could never dream of attaining even a fraction of her wealth and security.
That anger reached its peak in the run-up to the presidential election when Jenner seemed to be operating under the unfortunately common delusion that Trump was a pro-LGBT candidate.
“[Trump] seems very much behind the LGBT community because of what happened in North Carolina with the bathroom issue,” Jenner told Stat in June 2016, even though then-candidate Trump, by that point, had already reversed his laissez-faire stance on transgender restroom use to fall in line with the GOP base. “He backed the LGBT community.”
During her House of Commons address, she said that she “didn't start off being privileged,” adding that she is “not going to apologize for working hard and being successful.”
She acknowledged that her money does “give [her] a sense of privilege—but it also gives me a platform.” But just because a platform is available, doesn't mean it always has to be used. What critics of Jenner's privilege have been after is not to silence her altogether, but for her to recognize when it's better to lift up the voices of others.
Because the truth is that Jenner does have a place. To so many people around the world, she was their gateway, however imperfect, into a better understanding of transgender issues.
Unless someone with a Seinfeld-level of fame surprises us all by coming out as their authentic self, she will remain the most recognizable transgender figure on the planet world. And Jenner has proved herself to be a strong voice.
She handled herself well during the Channel 4 debate, even if she shouldn't have given herself over to the format, and she criticized the transgender troop ban in her House of Commons speech, even if she should have deferred the invite to a UK speaker.
It's hard to want to recommend, as some fellow transgender people have, that Jenner simply step aside from public life for a while, as comic Amanda Kerri understandably did in an Advocate op-ed last October. I wish Jenner had seen the light on Trump much earlier than she did, but a large platform used wisely is better than one gathering dust.
Every time I wince at some comment Jenner has made, I think about conversations I have had with LGBT allies on the right and transgender Republicans like Jennifer Williams who talk about the “behind the scenes” work she does that “no one ever sees.”
If Jenner continues to speak out against Trump in her transgender advocacy, she will almost certainly hear that she is doing too little, too late. But sometimes the only solution to that problem is to keep doing more, but to do it more shrewdly.
Will that work undo the damage she did by supporting Trump? Can she convince the left-leaning transgender community to change its mind about her? Maybe in time, but certainly not as quickly as she changed her mind about Trump.
Posted on 05/11/2018
See more at: The Daily Beast