How Caitlyn Jenner's Conservative Views Stifle Trans Activism
We can’t deny Caitlyn Jenner has had a lot of press this year.
However, many transgender people are rejecting Caitlyn as someone who should be representing the entire trans community.
Caitlyn’s consistently terrible politics have distanced her from most community members, and in the past few weeks, petitions and protests appeared as more started speaking up against Caitlyn’s domination of transgender representation.
We can, and need to, be critical of Cait.
Chicago created a slogan, "I Ain’t Cait," which rings true for many trans people.
Being transgender is not “trendy,” “fashionable” or “chic.”
While Caitlyn has the privilege of capitalizing off of her identity, trans women of color face alarmingly high rates of violence.
In the United States alone, over 20 trans women of color were murdered for being their authentic selves.
And Caitlyn Jenner thinks the hardest part of being a woman is “figuring out what to wear.”
Despite everything this community has gone through, Caitlyn continues to ignore the voices of the community and advocates for Republican politicians who promote anti-trans rights.
Perhaps Bette Midler said it best:
Caitlyn’s conservative views on social support systems are not just uninformed, but also dangerous.
During an episode of "I Am Cait," she stated:
But you don't want people to get totally dependent on [welfare]. That's when they get into trouble. 'Why should I work? You know, I've got a few bucks, I've got my room paid for.'
When 6 percent of transgender people have lost a job due to discrimination, Caitlyn expects trans people on welfare to simply be able to get employment.
As a multimillionaire, she has no place criticizing working class people.
This pushes the racist, transphobic trope of the lazy “Welfare Queen,” and it attempts to justify cuts to social programs that many trans people rely on to live.
Transgender unemployment is also twice that of the overall population.
Only a fraction of US-based employers provide transgender-inclusive healthcare coverage.
The concept of easily finding employment and getting off social services is elitist, racist and transphobic.
Likewise, Caitlyn’s negativity toward sex workers is highly concerning when sex work is such an integral part of the trans community.
Sex work is real work.
The 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey found that 16 percent of trans people have to work in the underground economy, making Caitlyn’s stance on sex workers even more appalling.
Although so many transgender people have engaged in sex work (often due to necessity), Caitlyn remains repulsed by the concept.
To actually decrease the number of people working in underground economies, our community needs more organizations and funding to support trans women of color.
Caitlyn has done very little for these efforts.
Her involvement in organizations has been very limited.
Notably, her show highlighted a visit to Human Rights Campaign offices.
HRC is one of the most conservative LGBTQ organizations, notorious for excluding people of color, trans people, youth and low-income communities in their work and advocacy.
Caitlyn has not publicly donated any significant portion of her vast wealth back to the community.
If she were to donate just a fraction of that into community based organizations and projects, trans people everywhere would be much better off.
The Change.org petition of demands for Caitlyn summarizes what the community wants.
We demand accountability.
She needs to donate her money to transgender organizations and projects, stop speaking over trans women of color and renounce her conservative politics.
With these changes, there may be hope for her as part of our community yet.