California gubernatorial candidate Caitlyn Jenner has drawn heavy criticism from fellow trans figures since publicly stating her position that trans girls’ participation in sports as their identified gender “isn’t fair.”
Speaking to TMZ in an impromptu interview Saturday, Jenner spoke on the issue for the first time since announcing her campaign for governor last month. “It’s a question of fairness,” Jenner said. “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.”
Jenner’s remarks come as bills targeting trans girls’ participation in sports make their way through more than 30 state legislatures, with multiple states already signing them into law.
The former Olympian’s comments angered many trans and LGBTQ people and advocates. “Caitlyn Jenner is anti-trans,” tweeted trans writer Charlotte Clymer. “She doesn’t understand the science, and she is pandering to the ignorance of anti-trans people. I have absolutely no problem saying Caitlyn Jenner supports and directly benefits from transphobia.”
10-year-old trans activist Kai Shappley also expressed frustration at Jenner’s stance. “If you don’t want to help trans kids at least stop hurting us,” Shappley said via Twitter. “Not all trans people are rich, white and live in California … some of us have had to fight for equality.”
Equality California, the state’s largest LGTQ advocacy organization, quickly denounced Jenner’s comments as well: “Here are the facts: Caitlyn Jenner is willing to sacrifice the health and well-being of trans kids to win votes. Gavin Newsom is not. It’s that simple.”
Aside from blatantly misgendering trans girls, Jenner’s recent statements contradict previous statements she made on the topic of trans youth participation in sports just last year.
“I think every 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,” Jenner said on the Outsports podcast The Trans Sporter Room last year. “Hopefully they’ll have the opportunity in the future to do whatever they can do. I’m all for it.”
Trans athletes also weighed in on Jenner’s about-face on the issue. “You are such a traitor,” said retired trans MMA fighter Fallon Fox. “None of us are surprised that she did a 180 and turned on her community for her own gain,” said trans powerlifter JayCee Cooper. “Caitlyn Jenner is a horrible human being, she proves this time and time again.”
For those speaking out against Jenner, the additional fear is that having a prominent trans celebrity running for a major political office expressing trans-exclusionary sentiments will provide space for others that want to legislate trans bodies and experience to find footing.
“Jenner is gonna be America’s ‘some of my friends are trans’ trans woman that allows countless conservatives a little cover to decimate our rights,” trans filmmaker Leigh Finke told NBC News. “Not that they’ll succeed, but it’s the elbow room they need to better make their case, and hurt our kids.”
Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Web Summit via Sportsfile/Creative Commons