“This is a question of fairness. That’s why I oppose biological boys who are trans competing in girls’ sports in school,” said Jenner, a Republican who is one of the most high-profile transgender Americans in public life. “It just isn’t fair. And we have to protect girls’ sports in our schools.” She did not answer a follow-up question from the reporter about whether that view delegitimizes the identity of children who transition and now identify as girls.
Jenner’s remarks triggered a swift backlash from many LGBTQ activists on social media. Though Jenner was sharply critical of Newsom’s response to the pandemic when she launched her campaign, she has yet to offer much insight into her views on many of the key issues facing the country. Her brief comments to TMZ on trans athletes in sports exemplified the tensions that are rising between a candidate who has spoken prominently about trans rights and her own transition, yet has often found herself at odds with trans activists who do not want her as their spokesperson.
Charlotte Clymer, a writer & LGBTQ activist and former press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign, tweeted Saturday that Jenner is “dead wrong,” noting that athletes including Billie Jean King and Megan Rapinoe have spoken out against banning trans girls from playing on girls’ sports teams: “There is no evidence this is a problem anywhere.”
Many trans activists have been at odds with Jenner in part because of her past support for former President Donald Trump — and what they view as her failure to criticize administration policies that discriminated against trans people. During a speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference earlier this year, Trump suggested that the participation of trans athletes on girls’ teams “would destroy women’s sports.”
“Young girls and women are incensed that they are now being forced to compete against those who are biological males,” Trump said. “If this is not changed, women’s sports, as we know it, will die. They’ll end. It will end.”
“The leader of our nation has shown no regard for an already marginalized and struggling community. He has ignored our humanity. He has insulted our dignity,” Jenner wrote in that 2018 op-ed. “He has made trans people into political pawns as he whips up animus against us in an attempt to energize the most right-wing segment of his party, claiming his anti-transgender policies are meant to ‘protect the country.’ This is politics at its worst. It is unacceptable, it is upsetting, and it has deeply, personally hurt me.”
But even after she withdrew her support for Trump, she’s faced criticism that she didn’t speak out strongly enough against the Trump administration on trans issues. And several former Trump officials are now involved in running her campaign.
“She has consistently just gone against the LGBTQ community in a very dangerous way,” Clymer said. “She basically gives legitimacy to Republican candidates, to the Republican Party. The very fact that she said that Donald Trump would be rational on trans issues — that did an enormous amount of damage to the trans rights movement.”
Jenner’s most recent comments are likely to aggravate tensions with the LGBTQ activists who immediately opposed her candidacy when she announced.
Devan Cole contributed to this story.