Opinion: Cait's self-hate

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Caitlyn Jenner — Photo by Chris Pizzello Invision AP
Caitlyn Jenner — Photo by Chris Pizzello Invision AP

Caitlyn Jenner, the Transgender conservative activist nobody asked for, is stirring up more controversy this month as she continues down the campaign trail.

First, some background: Jenner announced in April that she is running for the position of California governor, challenging the current incumbent, Democrat Gavin Newsom, who is the subject of a recall campaign. If Jenner wins the election, she would become the first Transgender governor of California and the second in the United States, following in the footsteps of Christine Hallquist, who won in 2018 in Vermont with 40% of the vote.

However, Jenner's history-making campaign has been quite unpopular with many in the California Trans community.

One of the most basic problems with Jenner's campaign is the party with which she has chosen to align herself. Before her transition, Jenner was an active and adamant Republican; after transitioning in 2015, she remained loyal to the party, even going so far as to endorse Donald Trump in 2016 (although she later revoked her support).

It is no secret the Republican Party is fundamentally transphobic. In the last five years it has backed legislation to prevent Trans people from using the bathrooms of their choice, allow private businesses to refuse them service, and passed a federal ban excluding Trans members of the military from serving.

More recently, it has focused on Trans athletes. Since 2019, Fox News has run 126 segments slamming Transgender athletes. In a segment of Tucker Carlson Tonight on March 22, the conservative host opened with hateful and transphobic statements, saying, "There's been a big push, nationally — the administration squarely behind it — to allow biological males to compete in girls' sports." Carlson went on to slam young Transgender athletes competing in school-level sports programs for daring to pursue their passion as the gender with which they identify.

For most members of the LGBTQ community, Carlson's words register as bigotry and hate. For Jenner, however, Carlson has become a prophet.

On May 1, Jenner echoed Carlson nearly verbatim while talking with a TMZ reporter. When stopped for an interview in a Malibu parking lot, Jenner commented, "That's why I oppose biological boys who are trans competing in girls' sports in school. It just isn't fair. And we have to protect girls' sports in our schools."

In a response, Kai Shappley, a ten-year-old Trans girl, tweeted, "If you don't want to help trans kids, at least stop hurting us!!! Not all trans people are rich, white, and live in California."

Jenner's hate towards her own community seems to be a rather new belief. Back in 2015, she voiced public support of Trans athletes competing in school sports when receiving the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. Even as recently as April 2020, Jenner was recorded voicing support for Trans athletes when interviewed on the Outsports podcast.

Jenner's hate for the Trans community doesn't stop with her sudden change in heart toward school-aged Trans athletes. She has also recently gotten in hot water due to her social media presence. Just this last week, Donald Trump Jr. posted a meme to his Instagram account comparing Jenner to Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Rachel Levine in the Department of Health and Human Services. The meme, which labeled Jenner under "conservative girls" and Levine under "liberal girls," was captioned by Trump: "It seems to hold true no matter what!!! Conservative girls are just better looking..." Jenner reposted Trump's meme to her Instagram story with three laughing emojis.

Jenner received backlash from prominent Trans actress and star of Transparent Alexandra Billings, who slammed her for being insensitive. Billings wrote in a statement on Instagram, "It isn't your transness people are bothered by; it's your behavior as a human, Caitlyn."

Jenner's insensitive, transphobic, and antifeminist posts online, as well as her sudden flip-flop on important Trans rights issues, seem to reflect a lack of authenticity on the part of the former Keeping Up with the Kardashians star. When celebrities use their platforms to lift up the voices of the marginalized, and advocate for the underrepresented communities they are a part of, they can be a real force for change. Jenner, however, has been using her fame and fortune, as well as her position as a member of an oppressed community, to take power and rights away from others you'd think she might have some empathy for.

Perhaps the empathy was drained out of Jenner during her years as a Kardashian, or perhaps it came more recently as she grew chummier with the Trump family. Whatever the reason, Jenner seems to have found her place, where her lack of empathy will not only be shared but may even become an asset: in the cold heart of the Republican Party.