Over the course of time, I’ve learned to stop being surprised by anything that comes out of certain people’s mouths. Speaking as a transgender woman myself, Caitlyn Jenner is at the top of that list. I’ve honestly even looked up her fan mail address with the serious consideration of sending her a gift-wrapped roll of duct tape complete with a nice, well thought out card including instructions on how to break off a piece to cover her mouth any time she feels like speaking up on the rest of our behalves. If you’d asked me about her a just over year ago last week, when she gave the acceptance speech for her Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2015 ESPYs, I would have only had good things to say. Since then, however, her mouth has become a veritable font of internalized transphobia and ignorance to the privilege she still carries as a famous and excessively wealthy white woman.
While I have nothing against her as a person, it’s clear that she has a lot to learn if she wants to continue being a “spokesperson” of sorts for our community, a role which was initially merely thrust upon her by the media circus, but which she seems to have since gladly accepted, even volunteering at times to serve as our community’s “Ambassador” to the Republican party. Because of course, as is the case with many other rich white people, Caitlyn Jenner identifies as a Republican, a revelation which found me at a rare loss for words:
Because while that party affiliation would seem to make a lot of sense for a rich, white, cis, straight person, Miss Jenner seems to be forgetting that she is transgender. Bless her heart.
Now Obviously, it goes without saying that not every individual who registers as a voting Republican is necessarily intentionally hateful towards LGBT people.
To the contrary, polls show that a narrow majority of young self-identified Republicans are either neutral to, or in support of marriage equality, and there are of course the notorious “Log Cabin” Republicans who are known very specifically for being gay themselves.
The problem is that these mindsets are entirely out of sync with GOP leadership, whose platform still advocates for the reversal of marriage equality as well as legislation banning trans individuals from being able to use public restrooms in some cases, and forcing us to have special ID’s (post-op only, which is still transphobic,) or to wear identifying green bracelets as though we were living in a fascist state in others.
Perhaps most concerning of all, Trump’s VP pick (I still can’t believe I’m even writing those words,) has advocated heavily for the defunding of AIDS research in order to funnel government money into religious “conversion therapy” intended to “pray the gay away,” a practice which is rooted in pseudoscience and has been proven time and time again as demonstrated so poignantly by Leelah Alcorn’s suicide in 2014, among other incidents, to lead to mental illness and even suicide in addition to not actually “turning” anyone straight or cis, and which has been thoroughly debunked and disavowed by nearly every respectable mental health body in the nation including the APA, because, big surprise, being gay or trans is not a mental illness. (You can ask the APA about that one too.)
And this is why, in my own not-so-humble opinion, it is not possible to vote Republican in support of LGBT rights. Make no mistake, I’m not here pushing for anyone to vote Democrat either, or for any other specific party for that matter. Political views are complex after all, and I’ve personally had it with this two party nonsense anyway. My point is simply that the Republican Party leadership’s platform could not possibly be more at odds with the human rights of LGBT people. Transphobic “bathroom laws” place trans people at an even further increased risk of violence than we already are, and conversion therapy kills.
This means that in order to make the decision to vote for current GOP leadership, under their current platform, one must also make the decision that some political agenda, be it gun control, economics, foreign policy, or anything else for that matter, is somehow more valuable than LGBT lives.
It’s really no wonder Caitlyn recently made a statement to the effect that it was harder for her to “come out” as a Republican than it was for her to come out as a transgender woman. Because while her wealth and white privilege do serve to protect her from the overwhelming bulk of violence against transgender people, which seems to be reserved for impoverished transgender women of color, they do not protect her from the truth: That GOP leadership and the GOP platform are overwhelmingly anti-LGBT, and should mark this party as a clear non-option for anyone who is LGBT, or who cares about the rights and lives of LGBT people at all.
There are “third option” right wing parties with less homophobic and transphobic agendas if that happens to be the way you lean, or you may even find a more moderate, or even left wing party whose views on the whole may actually line up with yours much better while still including whatever that one agenda is that’s making your decision, but LGBT lives are human lives, not a political agenda, and no political agenda should ever trump the importance of human lives.
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