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I am NOT Cait!

Caitlyn Jenner's announcement that she would like to be the trans ambassador to the President - to Ted Cruz of all people - absolutely nauseates me. Ms. Jenner has repeatedly exposed both her ignorance and her privilege.

Here is a report of her interview with The Advocate:

She called Cruz a ‘great constitutionalist’ and said she would like to advise him on questions relating to her community: “Yes, [I’d like to be] trans ambassador to the president of the United States, so we can say, ‘Ted, love what you’re doing but here’s what’s going on'”.

I support Caitlyn’s right to tell her story – even though her views are very different from mine. But the notion that she can speak for the rest of us is insensitive and ignorant.  And that’s putting it politely. Jenner says that she considers her greatest asset her mental rather than her physical ability. Well I’m sorry. Olympian she may be, but she has proven repeatedly in recent comments that intellectual decathlete she is not. The things that come out of her mouth stun me:

On the Ellen Show“When the whole gay marriage issue came up, at first I was not for it. … I’m a traditionalist. I kinda like tradition. It’s always been a man and a woman.” On I am Cait: She argued that transgender people do not need social welfare services: “they can make more not working with social programs than they actually can with an entry-level job”. To Time Magazine“I want to dress well. I want to look good. When I go out, as Kim says, you’ve got to rock it because the paparazzi will be there.”

For the record, according to Injustice at Every Turn, here is the reality that most of our community must live with, especially transgender people of color.

  • 15% of transgender people live in extreme poverty (less than $10,000 a year) – 4 times the rate in the population.
  • 57% experience family rejection.
  • 78% report being harassed in grades K-12.
  • 90% report experiencing harassment, mistreatment or discrimination at work.
  • 26% report that they lost a job owing to their gender variance.
  • 19% reported having been refused a home or apartment.
  • 19% were refused medical care for failing to conform to gender norms.
  • They are twice as likely as the rest of the population to be homeless.

These rates are typically 2 to 4 times higher for transgender people of color.

Being transgender is not a lifestyle choice.  Being prejudiced is.

To even imply that being transgender is a lifestyle choice is ignorant. Who would ever willingly subject themselves to such a fate? Would you like to know the lifestyle choices that transgender people do make?  Eighty-nine percent are registered to vote – compared to seventy one percent of the general population. Twenty percent say that they are or have served in the military – twice the rate reported by the rest our our country.  Forty seven percent have college and/or graduate degrees, compared with twenty seven percent of the general population. These are admirable lifestyle choices.  These are worthy citizens – especially when you consider their educational accomplishment in light of the harassment they have faced; especially when you consider that the military has treated them like vermin. We need more brave, educated patriots like these. Olympic gold is nothing compared to what these people have braved their entire life. I wish that Caitlyn would spend more time on these amazing people and less on her wardrobe. Speaking of wardrobes, most transgender women I know do not embrace Jenner’s notion that we should have to wear sexy dresses in order to be accepted for who we are. I support Caitlyn’s right to dress any way she likes. But it shouldn’t be a requirement. An ambassador should be educating society, not flaunting her wealth and wardrobe. Caitlyn is welcome to her views. But serve as our ambassador? No way! Caitlyn no more represents me than do Sarah Palin or Anita Bryant. At least she proves that we aren’t all of a type. We are as diverse as the rest of womanhood. Please:

  • Make your support of marriage equality and equal rights clear to all.
  • Wear what you damn well please.
  • Stand up for your identity – and know that others support and celebrate you.
  • Don’t confuse “I am Cait” with transgender education. In spite of all the talent, it offers a dangerously narrow lens.

Note: an earlier version reported the wrong statistic for transgender poverty rates. Readers have pointed me to a few additional statistics that tell a more complete story.  Story revised for style May 12, 2019.

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15 thoughts on “I am NOT Cait!”

  1. Having met and spent a little time with Caitlyn, I have a radically different perspective than most trans people on this subject. There are many subjects I’m sure that I disagree with her on. That’s just like anybody else out there, but what I choose to do is get along with her – and with all of you! She’s got her hopes and dreams like we all do. If she hopes and dreams to have an impact on national politics and on the presidency, I’m all for supporting her dreams like I am for supporting you all in yours, whether you are trans or not. There’s already been quite a few trans people who have been to the White House long before this – Bamby Salcedo, Brynn Tannehill, and Alex Billings are just to name a few that I know personally who have gone there to help express their viewpoints and in some way represent us in a panel or a meeting. So if Caitlyn is yet another one of my friends that goes to help, more power to her! We’re not all the same, in fact I see amazing diversity within the trans community – a cross section of the entire country in race, religion, politics, education, and more. So no matter who ‘represents us’ in Hollywood, the media, politics, etc, those people will never truly be an accurate representation of our community. I’m just happy she’s got the platform from which to stir up national attention.

  2. I live my life as the transgender person I am, I am one of those girls that live in poverty ad have lost family and jobs over who I am but life for me goes on. I wil never be rich like Caitlyn nor will I be accepted from even girls like me in the trans community. I don’t wish to downplay Caitlyn’s intentions of doing good for the trans community but she is definetly not a spokesperson for the majority of transgender people by any means.

  3. I have always said that she is not my representative for the transgender community
    She has never been thru what a lot of us has gone thru .She doesn’t know what it is to be trans .she’s has so much money to buy the things she needs from makeup to clothes to surgery.How many transgenders you know have the money to buy what they need I sure can’t..I don’t have the money to have my voice box shaved or to have nose job .or even facelifts done .I know I don’t .I came out about 40 years ago
    She has had it made look at her she rides around in a bus with her so called friends .Do u think they are her friends I don’t think so .she has them there as props so she can make you think she cares .I believe she on T.V. to make more money. just like her family does know

  4. When Ms Jenner came out , I said GREAT ! When she said she was a Conservative , I said Great ! I’m a LIMITED Government Libertarian who has SEEN what BIG Government intervention has done ! When she came out for Ted cruz, I LOST ALL RESPECT > I was in Texas when this Dirtbag HATE MONGER was elected . Cruz wants transgenders rounded up and placed on concentration camps . Cruz wants women barefoot an pregnant and DUMB .

    No Ms Jenner , you go party with your Glitzy Hollywood friends and g to yer Champagne parties . I came up on my own and until I met Ms Christine Jorgensen in 1973 , I was alone . One thing Ms Jorgensen had an you don’t was a sense of reality ! I know cause we became friends as a result of an interview . I sent you material when YOU first came out and you couldn’t even say thanks . Hey lady , it takes EVERY ONE of us UNITED .

  5. I am fed up with Cait and her crap. While I will defend her from cis oppression, it ends there for me.
    If it weren’t for Trans Women of Color – women like Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, Miss Major Griffin-Gracy – this 65-year-old woman would still be a closet case. These are women who sacrificed and struggled. They were beaten. Who the hell does this arrogant woman think she is?
    Last January at a so-called Christian conference, the host waved his Bible in the air. Quoting Leviticus, he called for the extermination of ALL LGBTQ people!!!!!!!!
    Two hours later – on the same stage – Ted Cruz shook this fascist scumbag’s hand!! This is the man that Cait supports!!
    As far as I am concerned, she is a racist who supports fascist views.
    I speak as a trans White woman – a proud member of the Trans Community since 1975. I have been through many battles with and in support of my Trans Sisters and Brothers, especially those of color who suffer even more horrible oppression than we do.
    Cait will never represent us!

  6. It is incredible the extent to which she is divorced from the reality of transgender people. Not just the statistical facts, but the lives of actual people. I know there will still be supporters among transgender folks. I truly thought it wonderful when she first came out, despite the glacial hidden transition, no news there, many people had to transition quietly depending on circumstances. Reality television, an oxymoron, is a place for narcissists like her to live in a bubble as one reader states. Though I am sure, on her show, we will see more warm fuzzy moments when she helps some trans person somewhere, or gives an occasional reformer a minute of fame to plug for a cause. How can someone be so cut off from a community they claim to represent, one that I think increasingly dislikes her? Seriously, is she delusional?

  7. I still so admire your honesty, foresight and insight. Caitlin is not representative of the Trans community world. She lives in a bubble and while trying to “fit” in she is a Hollywood by virtue of her family ties. She would benefit in getting to know the “real” community and learning to understand the delicate imbalances that are a part of the real world.

  8. i can only speak for myself , she needs to wake up these guys want us gone. i am so glad i live in canada

  9. We are in trouble when we presume to speak for others without their permission. That’s the fatal disease of most of our politicians

  10. Thanks Tina:
    Unfortunately, Caitlyn has become a sad caricature, craving even more narcissistic and unneeded attention, just like her dysfunctional ex spouse, children and the minions that surround her. Sadly, she, (and her values/beliefs) fit right in with all of the other dysfunctional republican candidates, including her boy, Ted!

    God forbid, if Ted is ever elected, he’ll most likely ship her off to become an ambassador to one of the many violently homo-phobic / Trans-phobic middle eastern countries !!
    Too bad that she continues to focus so much of her energy and life on the narcissistic, shallow “outside,” instead of going inward and doing some truly deep introspective and spiritual
    self-reflection, about what it would mean for her to become an emotionally healthy, empathetic, caring, generous and loving woman, who no longer craves all of that unhealthy attention or those obscene multi-six-figure speaking fees!
    Hugs,
    Lori

  11. I am constantly bombarded with questions about what I think of Caitlyn and there is no end of surprise when I say I don’t like her. I’ve had people yell at me and call me a sexist for it (I’m FTM) but the woman is at best misinformed and at worst setting our progress back ten years.

  12. Jessica Merriman

    She is just a media whore selling out to the highest bidder. Her grip on reality is not fragile, it is not existent. At first many supported her saying she was just learning. Now, it is evident she is not capable of learning. Fade back to obscurity Cait!

  13. Cannot stand Caitlyn as a trans woman I am embarrassed by her she does not represent the trans community only her selfish motives.

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Tina White

Tina White

Tina White is the Executive Director of the Blue Ridge Pride Center, in Asheville, North Carolina, and a member of the board of directors for the Human Rights Campaign.

Tina spent 35 years consulting to and working for global corporations. Her specialty was large-scale business transformation: redesigning companies to pursue new strategies and improve performance. She has since shifted her focus to activism, writing and speaking. She speaks and writes on issues of diversity & inclusion, organization transformation, social justice, and personal identity.

Tina is the author of Between Shadow and Sun. She describes her 50-year struggle with gender and her wife's efforts to embrace her revealed identity. She holds an MBA in Strategy, Marketing & Finance from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and an AB in Economics from Princeton University. She and Mary live in Asheville, North Carolina.

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