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Caitlyn Jenner has ended her support for Trump – but I never believed she was a trans ally from the start

Jenner’s white privilege and allegiance to a racist Republican Party ignored the unsettling statistics for trans people of colour in America

Amrou Al-Kadhi
Friday 26 October 2018 14:35 BST
Caitlyn Jenner: I was furious at Donald Trump

Caitlyn Jenner has penned an opinion piece for The Washington Post, retracting her support for Donald Trump after coming to a realisation that should have been glaringly obvious from the very beginning – TRUMP IS NOT GOOD FOR LGBTQIA+ PEOPLE. Caitlyn Jenner’s awakening to the realities for trans minorities under a Conservative government are too little, too late, and shouldn’t mute the ugly political truths of her behaviour up until this point.

In her piece, she writes, “Following Trump’s election as president, I saw fertile ground for change within the Republican Party on LGBTQ issues.”

I remain highly sceptical that Jenner believed a Republican government would ever be emancipatory for trans people in America.

That’s because her unshifting support for the Republican Party was never about policies that would protect trans people; rather, the focus appeared to be on policies protecting her wealth. In her words, she has always supported lower taxes and the deregulation of the economy. She supports the federal withdrawal from governmental provisions in healthcare, she aligns with Republican policies severing federal responsibility in social care (i.e. that there should be as little as possible, and that every individual should fend for themselves). Every aspect of the Republican agenda is directly or indirectly hostile to the trans community. Jenner’s extreme wealth and social privilege has blinded her to the needs of most trans people who she claims to be an advocate for.

The issues trans people face are fiercely intersectional ones. We cannot begin to tackle them without dismantling the structures of racism and classism that they are tied to. Advocating for the deregulation of healthcare, as the Republican Party does so fervently, is a one stop ticket to trans exclusion. Trans people, like every single human being on this planet, have a right to good health care; hormone treatments and trans-related surgeries must be federally provided to ensure safety, good practice and unquestioned equality. But as Glaad research highlights, trans people are excluded from Medicaid provisions in New York, meaning that many are forced to pay out of pocket – but with 15 per cent of trans people in America living in poverty (compared to 4 per cent of cisgender people), most do not have Jenner’s financial access to the healthcare that they need.

When trans people get the care that they need, research shows that 78 per cent of those receiving gender-confirmation surgery have improved mental health, and suicide rates drop from as much as 29 per cent to as little as 6 per cent. How could Jenner have ever believed she could affect change in a party that harbours economic policies that lead to trans deaths?

Caitlyn Jenner claims her investment in the Republican Party was to change things for trans people “on the inside”; yet what kind of trans person did she believe she was fighting for? It seems trans people of colour were immediately erased from her list of priorities, given Trump’s well-known attitude towards immigration and racial minorities. In supporting Trump, she put her trust in a man who didn’t mince words about his anti-asylum seeker agenda; there are many trans people seeking asylum in the US because they would be killed in their country of origin – they will now be deprived of safety due to the white supremacist contingent of the Republican Party.

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Jenner’s white privilege and allegiance to a racist Republican Party ignored the unsettling statistics for trans people of colour in America. Since last year, 84 per cent of all trans citizens murdered were ones of colour. As the Gire’s report on BAME-inclusivity in the trans community shows, trans people of colour face increased discrimination because of their ethnicity. A trans person of colour within the report commented, “A few of my white trans acquaintances perpetuate the idea that there’s ‘one way’ of thinking about being trans (and that it’s a ‘civilised’ white, Western way with very set language and concepts). But this to me invalidates trans people who exist around the world with different language and concepts to describe their genders”.

The Trump administration is now fighting to erase trans people’s basic human rights, attempting to constitutionally restrict gender identity to "a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable”. Governmental policies protecting trans people from discrimination are being eradicated, and trans lives are under threat in unprecedented ways. Caitlyn Jenner has been complicit in this happening. Through ignoring that trans rights, like all human rights, are always intersectional, she has helped Conservatives mobilise their despotic agendas.

If this doesn’t warn all “liberals” with any kind of privilege to fight with those less privileged than them, then I don’t know what will.

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