In a twist that’s appropriate for a long-running star of reality TV, transgender activist and Olympic gold medal-winning athlete Caitlyn Jenner is being sharply criticized both on social media and in the press for a comment she made attacking trans athletes — a group that she is perhaps ironically the most famous member.
It all started last week when Jenner announced that she would be running for Governor of California, following news that citizens of the state had gathered enough signatures to force a recall election of current Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Following that announcement, reporters for gossip site TMZ recently caught up with Jenner for an impromptu interview, tossing a few questions her way while she finished some errands. When asked about the recent spate of anti-trans bills currently being pushed by Republican lawmakers across the state, Jenner — who is also a notoriously conservative Republican herself — said that she actually supported legislation keeping trans athletes from playing on sports teams that match their gender identity.
“This is a question of fairness,” Jenner said in the TMZ video. “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.”
Aware that she may have struck a controversial chord with her statement, Jenner took to Twitter a few hours and doubled down on her comment, tweeting, “I didn’t expect to get asked this on my Saturday morning coffee run, but I’m clear about where I stand. It’s an issue of fairness and we need to protect girls’ sports in our schools.”
I didn’t expect to get asked this on my Saturday morning coffee run, but I’m clear about where I stand. It’s an issue of fairness and we need to protect girls’ sports in our schools.https://t.co/YODLDQ3csP
— Caitlyn Jenner (@Caitlyn_Jenner) May 1, 2021
Glenn Garner of Entertainment Weekly reported that reaction to the comment has been swift and heated, from all areas of the political world, the LGBTQ community and Hollywood.
“Trans activist and Transparent actress Shakina Nayfack was one of many to hit back at Jenner on Twitter,” said Garner. Nayfack wrote, “Caitlyn Jenner is classically uninformed, wildly privileged, and tragically self-hating.”
According to Garner, RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars season 4 winner Trinity “The Tuck” Taylor also spoke out, saying, “A trans girl is a girl. A trans boy is a boy. Everyone’s built [differently] no matter what gender you are. There [are] very small-framed people and also larger framed muscular people all across the spectrum! STOP finding ways to delegitimize someone’s gender. SHAME ON [YO]U @Caitlyn_Jenner.”
Writer and activist Charlotte Clymer also reacted to the comment, saying, “Caitlyn Jenner completely fails to understand the science here. This has not been a problem. The GOP is fabricating this issue and funding Jenner to claim this nonsense. She is about as credible as any paid shill.”
As we’ve previously reported, trans athletes are already under attack across the country with nearly 200 anti-LGBTQ bills currently under consideration across the U.S. According to the Human Rights Campaign, 93 of those bills directly target transgender individuals.
While many of those bills are focused purely on the supposed unfairness of transgender girls competing in sports against cisgender girls, even TMZ itself knows the truth. Although many Republicans continue to make this argument, studies on potentially elevated testosterone levels in trans athletes having any significant impact on an individual’s overall athletic performance are inconclusive — and there are no documented cases to show this is even a legit or accurate issue we should be worried about.
Garner adds that Jenner’s comments are also directly in opposition to the statement she made when she declared her candidacy for Governor, saying that she thought her celebrity could help to make life better for trans individuals.
“I thought, what a great opportunity to change the world’s thinking; 51% of trans people attempt suicide. The murder rate [is terrible] — we’ve been losing one trans woman of color every two weeks,” said Jenner. “I love my community. I truly want to help.”
It’s also not the first time Jenner’s political comments have caused a serious backlash against the star. In a 2018 op-ed, she wrote an apology letter backtracking for her adamant support of President Trump during his election run.
“I thought Trump would help trans people,” she wrote. “I was wrong.”