Opinion | Why a Republican Trans Candidate Is Good for Trans People

Like Caitlyn Jenner, I transitioned later in life, and my politics didn’t.

5/13/2021 7:02:00 PM

Opinion: The collective effort to dismiss Caitlyn Jenner because she has politics at odds with the more outspoken activists in the LGBTQ community does no favors for getting others to recognize trans people’s contradictions and diversity

Like Caitlyn Jenner, I transitioned later in life, and my politics didn’t.

she initially judged his election as “fertile ground for change" in the Republican party but had turned out to be “wrong.”In other words, Jenner’s positions as an advocate and politician are clearly complicated and clearly shifting and, at times, apparently wavering. But this collective effort to dismiss her because she has politics at odds with the more outspoken activists in the LGBTQ community also does no favors for getting others to recognize trans people’s contradictions and diversity. It also reminds me of another struggle: my own.

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As a conservative transgender woman, I am excited, and nervous, to watch Jenner run for governor. First, let’s be clear about what a milestone this is: A transgender woman is running for the highest political office of one of the largest, wealthiest, most populous, and most important, states in the country—a state that has never even had a female governor. That should be a cause for celebration for transgender people. Trans people are rarely represented on such a hugely important political stage, which sends a signal that our concerns and our voters are not to be neglected by mainstream politics. Further, a Republican trans candidate in particular signals that trans people aren’t just an interest group. We’re complicated, multifaceted people who can’t change our opinions even if we change our gender identities—and for a great deal of us, that means even after our transition, we remain conservative and Republican.

Both Caitlyn and I transitioned late in life. I was 63 when I transitioned, and Caitlyn was 65. When you transition that late in life, most of your core beliefs and values have become ingrained. It is easy to trade in one hat for another. But it is not so easy to trade in a lifetime accumulation of beliefs and values for those you are told you should have by some members of the new community you have suddenly become a part of. headtopics.com

When Caitlyn was asked if she was a “real Republican” during her appearance at the Big Tent Brunch organized by the American Unity Fund at the Republican National Convention in 2016, she replied, “It was easy to come out as trans. It was harder to come out as a Republican.” Many people in the LGBTQ community, including myself, have echoed this thought. On the few occasions that I have ventured out of my shell and voiced my support for Republican candidates, I have met with rudeness, even threats, from the LGBTQ community and my Democratic friends. I have also been called a monster, an enemy of humanity and other names that cannot be printed here.

When I expressed my support for Trump at a dinner, one transgender woman who I know carried a gun in her purse told me I should be shot. I was also rudely attacked by a gay man on one of the rare occasions that I expressed my support for Trump’s reelection on Facebook, and he failed to show up and share the stage with me at a poetry reading.

I have lost friends both in person and online. I am a huge fan of jazz, and during the recent presidential campaign, a jazz musician friend posted on Facebook that a person could not support Trump and be a fan of jazz at the same time, and anybody who felt that way should unfriend him immediately. I complied with his request.

I understand that being asked to unfriend someone is not the same as being discriminated against, which is how many advocates defend people like my old jazz friend. But the pressure to adopt political views I don’t identify with to be accepted as part of the trans community is frustrating: It is allowing others to erase parts of me, after I have spent a lifetime of doing that with my gender identity at the expense of my personal happiness and mental health, including near suicide attempts. What saddens me the most is that a community that prides itself on inclusion and diversity has no room for people like me who have retained their conservative Republican beliefs after transitioning. headtopics.com

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I have been a Republican my whole adult life. I joined the Young Republicans when I was a freshman in college under the tutelage of a fraternity brother, who is currently serving as the speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives. I attended state and national conventions, hearing speakers such as Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater at events. These were formative events that shaped my worldview, and I continued to vote Republican in every election, except for 1976 when I became disillusioned by the Watergate scandal. (However, I immediately regretted my vote for the Democratic candidate.)

When I transitioned, I saw no reason to change the core beliefs and values that I accumulated over the course of 60 years of living. I am finding that I am not alone. There are other transgender women and men who think as I do. There are some Facebook groups for conservative transgender individuals, some of which are public groups, where people share their opinions on political issues, post memes, and interact with other trans individuals who share their conservative values. Recently, on one of the conservative trans Facebook sites, the members were cautioned about posting anything conservative on most other trans sites, because there is “no tolerance for anyone that is out of lockstep with them.” There are also a number of conservative-leaning transgender individuals on YouTube.

Caitlyn Jenner has said she wants to make the Republican Party more inclusive, and she is right to think there are LGBTQ folks who might be receptive to the party. In the fall presidential election, Donald Trumpreceived28 percent of the LGBTQ vote, which was more than double what he had received in 2016. There are also organizations such as the Log Cabin Republicans, which consists of LGBTQ individuals and their straight allies working to make the Republican Party more inclusive, particularly on LGBTQ issues.

In her autobiography,The Secrets of My Life, Caitlyn Jenner wrote, “Whatever political views I have, they will never interfere with doing everything that I can to help a community that has been so unfairly maligned and marginalized.” I believe her.I call myself a quiet activist. I advocate for myself as a transgender woman in my public performances as a poet and in the way that I present myself in the community. I transitioned so that I could live a more truthful and authentic life, and the pressure to live and believe a certain way to be accepted as part of the community to which I transitioned feels like undoing that progress. headtopics.com

Near the end of her interview onHannityearlier this month, Caitlyn talked about standing before the gates of heaven and asking whether she did a good job and the right thing. Isn’t that the goal of all of us? In my opinion, it is time to recognize and embrace the fact that the transgender community is broad, and that there is room for all transgender individuals, including those like Caitlyn and myself. All transgender individuals should be welcome in the community, even those who might believe differently, without threats and name calling. It is not healthy to reduce such a diverse and complex community to one set of beliefs. Caitlyn’s candidacy for such a high-level position as governor of California should be embraced as a positive and a huge step forward in our struggle to live authentic lives—whether that’s as a woman or as a man, as a Republican or as a Democrat.

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I don’t support Republicans, no matter whom they are, or whatever office they seek! 'At odds' is doing a whole helluva lot of work guys. I guess we shouldn't expect much but I certainly expected more than this hot nonsense. How about dismissing her cause she has no gd experience in government? 🤦🏻‍♂️ She has terrible politics.

Bruce was a horrible man. Caitlyn is a horrible woman. Yours is a horrible publication. She doesn’t have an actual platform. Just vibes I guess 🤦🏽‍♀️ Nothing to do with Jenner being trans. She is a grifter from the Kardashian grifter klan who is using money from outside of CA to try and change business policies the right have problems with. YOU should be offended that they are using trans status to push this bullshit.

I think she's dismissed for having no experience, no policies, and very little knowledge of what she speaks about. It's not because she is trans, it's because she's an asshole. 'The collective effort to dismiss {person promoting bigotry against a group of people, while being a part of that group} because they have politics at odds with anti-bigotry does no favors for getting bigots to recognize the oppressed people's contradicting and diversity'

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Its funny the coalescence around name recognition, where are the actual quality candidates? she ran good 50 years ago and then did nothing Caitlyn is a trans woman trapped inside the mind of a conservative cis white male...complete with all the selfishness, bias and patriarchy we've come to know and loathe. The MINUTE she realizes those two positions are diametrically opposed, is the minute folks will cut her slack

Ms. Jenner is unqualified and out of touch. She has supported anti-trans rights politicians and policies. She is a turncoat to her community not a good representative of it. She fucking killed someone in and nothing happened Not when diversity clashes with woke . this is so lazy, try again She has already proven herself to be a liar.

Her 'policies' don't seem good for people in general. Nor can she answer a damn question.

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How about because she has politics at odds with most Californians. I wish to god you guys could get off this identity kick long enough to look at the policies of the candidates. Caitlyn’s are what you’d expect from a spoiled, wealthy entitled septuagenarian - trans or cis. This is a ridiculous article. Jenner is a person who promoted exploiting her family for fame and money, and who is dismissive of those less fortunate. How is that good for a LGBTQ community still encountering hostility in the real world?

I wouldn't vote for Bruce Jenner for dog catcher so I certainly won't vote for Caitlin Jenner for governor Its good because it creates a contradiction with their ridiculous obsession with pronouns. But that contradiction only comes into play if they have to support her. They don't have to, so culture hawk republicans won't.

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