Caitlyn Jenner says she’s against trans girls competing with other girls. LGBTQ activists are in a bind

Written by Danielle Chiriguayo, produced by Rosalie Atkinson

Caitlyn Jenner at Web Summit 2017 in Lisbon. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Web Summit via Sportsfile (CC BY 2.0).

Caitlyn Jenner, reality TV star and California gubernatorial hopeful, said over the weekend that she was against trans girls competing in girls’ sports. She suggested support for a growing Republican movement to pass laws prohibiting trans athletes from girls sports. 

Five Republican-led state legislatures have passed similar bills, and more than two-thirds of states are considering that kind of legislation. It’s not a popular position in deep blue California, and her run for governor is making trans activists deeply uncomfortable. 

The comments are an about-face for Jenner, according to Dawn Ennis, managing editor at Outsports. 

“This is a political move. She has turned this political campaign now into a complete disaster. … She's running on a platform that doesn't even exist in California,” Ennis says. “California is not going to roll back rights for transgender people. She's appealing directly to those GOP donors in hopes of either a cash grab or attention or both.”

Ennis says Jenner’s new comments follow years of support for the trans community. In an interview for “The Trans Sporter Room” podcast, Jenner said, “I think every trans person, if they're into athletics, should have an opportunity to compete and to improve themselves. I think sports is such a great way to learn a lot about yourself. Hopefully, they'll have the opportunity in the future to do whatever they can do.”

Ennis points out that unlike other California celebrity-turned-politicians such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jenner hasn’t been politically active. She’s only voted in the last nine of the last 26 elections.

“I didn't expect her to become a democrat when she came out. But I think people forgot. This is a rich old white lady living above the clouds in Malibu. She's not someone who's woke. [She] doesn't understand the marginalized experience. And she has access to all the things that every trans person would ever dream of having: finances, friends, support. And for most trans people, it's a very lonely existence. We lose our homes, we lose our marriages, we lose those people who we thought would always stand by us, we lose our children,” Ennis says. 

She emphasizes, “What I think is important is that this is not a trans person running for governor. This is a celebrity running for governor who happens to be trans. And anybody who calls her an activist needs to have their head checked.”

Ennis admits that Jenner has become a source of inspiration, but her latest comments are ammunition for those who are anti-trans.

“This has turned so many people off, basically, because these are kids. These are just kids who want to compete like every other kid. How can you say no to that?” she says. “[Her comments] turned a political campaign that had nothing to do with my community into making us a target. Once again, we are already fighting for our existence in states all across the country. … What I don't think Caitlyn understands is by taking the stance about trans athletes, she drags all of us into the mud with her, every one of us.”

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