Last week, Caitlyn Jenner came out in support of Ted Cruz, and she received an equal amount of backlash from her own community as she did from bigots when she came out as a trans woman last year. Among the many things that divide queer people, one such notion is this idea that just because someone identifies as something other than straight, that automatically means we need to fall to the far left on the political spectrum. Newsflash: not all queers are liberal democrats, nor should they have to be.
Caitlyn Jenner is being blasted unnecessarily for stating she wants to be Ted Cruz’s trans ambassador. Yes, this is laughable, since no Republican this side of Laverne Cox on a unicorn is having a trans ambassador. I should just clarify that I wholeheartedly disagree with most of Cruz’s politics. I don’t fully understand why a trans woman would support someone like Cruz. He’s clearly demonstrated his lack of empathy, understanding, or support for the trans community. However, I don’t need to understand it, and neither do you. The same concept applies to people who don’t understand why people are trans.
We, and by we – I mean the queer community – seem to have set such a concrete set of standards for each other to behave and to live by, that we are often blinded by the fact that we start to behave in similar patterns that have oppressed us for generations. When a trans woman votes for a conservative politician, that’s not exactly the smartest move, but it’s also not something that warrants a person to become a villain.
Not all trans people are the same. We don’t get to claim one politician and one idea for the entirety of our community, then deem it appalling when one public figure doesn’t follow in line. What’s appalling is our behavior or banishment towards a brave visible trans woman who had the audacity to come out in the way she did. Is she voting for Cruz because she’s rich? Probably. But that doesn’t mean she’s any less of a trans person. That doesn’t mean we get to jump down her throat and call for the backlash of all things Caitlyn Jenner. That’s ridiculous.
The queer community has often been quick to have their patience tested by Caitlyn Jenner. A few internet comments all read the same: “Is Jenner a terrible trans advocate, or the worst trans advocate?” My response to that is, she doesn’t need to be everyone’s advocate. She doesn’t need to play by your rules. She clearly hasn’t played by the rules of gender recently, so why should she now conform to an idea that she needs to be anything other than who she is. Caitlyn Jenner is a conservative trans woman. If you don’t support that, it doesn’t mean she no longer supports the queer community.
Is Cruz dangerous for LGBT people? Potentially. Is Cruz going to help trans people get jobs? Of course not. Is Cruz going to cultivate a society of tolerance for anything other than straight white men? Nope. I certainly won’t be voting for him, and I don’t know any queer or trans people who will. But what’s also dangerous is creating platforms within our own community, then deciding who gets to be placed on them. What’s dangerous is acting like people need to adhere to a certain type of political view in order to be transgender. When we separate ourselves, we are unknowingly keeping people in the closet. When we divide ourselves, they have already won.
There are people who exist who want to become more gender fluid, but because we divide ourselves in this way, we’re putting our own people back into the closet. Gender does not start as a movement then go inward. It starts at an individual level then goes outward and becomes a movement.
As my friend Sebastian put it, “Sometimes I think about being more queer, more gender fluid, but I don’t because I often don’t agree with the politics. I don’t get the vibe of gender as ‘movement.’ You feel the gender you feel. I don’t think politics should need to enter the conversation that much. I feel like to be accepted, I would need to have facial piercings and ‘Free Tibet’ tattoos.”
The solution here is obvious. Instead of behaving like a bunch of closed-minded peasants on a witch hunt, we try to show Caitlyn Jenner and people like her why voting for Cruz actually isn’t the best option for trans people. How about we do some self reflection and practice what we’ve been preaching for so long? Who are we if we can’t respectfully disagree with our own people? If we can’t look at various sides to everything, have a relatively decent and intellectual conversation with someone, we can’t do anything. Unfollowing Caitlyn Jenner on Instagram then calling for a boycott is just stupid.
Even if Caitlyn doesn’t change her mind – and hopefully she does – she gets to vote for whoever she wants to vote for. Yes, you can disagree. You can get mad. You can strongly believe she’s making a mistake. I do. But what you really shouldn’t do is become the oppressor, simply because someone disagrees with your politics.