Caitlyn Jenner, the former Olympic champion and reality TV personality now running for governor in California, said she opposes transgender girls competing in girls’ sports at school.
Jenner, a 1976 decathlon gold medalist who came out as a transgender woman in 2015, told a TMZ reporter on Saturday that it’s “a question of fairness.”
“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,” Jenner said Saturday during a brief interview in a Malibu parking lot.
It was Jenner’s first comment on the issue since announcing her candidacy to replace Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, in a recall election. Five states have passed laws or implemented executive orders this year limiting the ability of transgender youths to play sports or receive certain medical treatment. There’s been a vehement outcry from supporters of transgender rights.
Jenner, a Republican, supported Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election but later criticized his administration for some discriminatory actions against transgender people.
Many transgender rights advocates have criticized Jenner, saying she has failed to convince them that she is a major asset to their cause.
Kai Shappley, a trans 10-year-old who lives in Texas, asked Jenner to “stop hurting” trans kids.
Some trans people said Jenner doesn’t represent the community.
Equality California, an LGBTQ advocacy organization, wrote: “Here are the facts: Caitlyn Jenner is willing to sacrifice the health & well-being of trans kids to win votes. Gavin Newsom is not. It’s that simple.”
Others pointed out that, as recently as last year, Jenner supported trans athletes competing on the sports teams that align with their gender identity.
“I think every trans person, if they’re into athletics, should have an opportunity to compete and to improve themselves,” Jenner said in April 2020 on theOutsports podcast, The Trans Sporter Room, according to Forbes. “I think sports is such a great way to learn a lot about yourself. … Hopefully they’ll have the opportunity in the future to do whatever they can do. I’m all for it. I’m all for it.”
“I also want to acknowledge all the young trans athletes who are out there — given the chance to play sports as who they really are,” she said in her acceptance speech. “And now, as of this week, it appears that trans people will soon be serving in the military. That’s a great idea. We have come a long way. But we have a lot of work to do.”
Advocates say Jenner’s flip-flop is evidence that she’s changed her public view just to attract the attention of California’s Republican voters.
But trans people say that her comment won’t be without consequence, and that it could help people behind anti-trans legislation justify their views.
“Jenner is gonna be America’s ‘some of my friends are trans’ trans woman that allows countless conservatives a little cover to decimate our rights,” trans filmmaker and author Leigh Finke said. “Not that they’ll succeed, but it’s the elbow room they need to better make their case, and hurt our kids.”