Caitlyn Jenner still has faith in GOP despite traditional family value platform
By Evan Lips | July 20, 2016, 17:21 EDT
CLEVELAND — Coming out as transgender was easy for her; what was harder was coming out as a Republican.
Caitlyn Jenner, the talk of the nation a little more than a year ago when she announced she was no longer going to be known as Bruce Jenner, drew laughs Wednesday at a brunch held at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by the American Unity Fund when she made the above remark.
But Jenner, an Olympic hero and symbol of masculinity for a generation of Americans, was not joking when she talked about the Republican Party’s reticence when it comes to embracing LGBT conservatives. While she maintained that the GOP remains the best path to constitutional government, Jenner was not shy in expressing her disappointment with the platform adopted by the GOP last week ahead of the Republican National Convention.
“I haven’t given up hope,” Jenner told AUF President Margaret Hoover. “But I get it, the Democratic Party does a better job when it comes to the LGBT community, the trans community, all that kind of stuff.”
The socially conservative platform put forth following last week’s tense series of meetings has drawn criticism from Republicans who happen to be members of the LGBT community and others who lean more centrist. Amy Carnevale, a Massachusetts delegate who served on the party’s national platform committee, attended Wednesday’s AUF brunch. Carnivale said she elected to attend Jenner’s event rather than the Massachusetts GOP’s traditional breakfast meeting to show her support for the LGBT community, especially its Republican members.
“I did not support the move and the amendments to make the party less welcoming,” Carnevale said Wednesday afternoon regarding platform proceedings. “Unfortunately it prevailed but what I’ve told people since is that the members who serve on that platform are not representative of the party as a whole.”
“But one thing in terms of Cait’s (Jenner) remarks that stuck out for me, given my experience, was when she talked about the platform less welcoming — she said she was still willing to stick with the party — I thought that was a positive sign.”
Jenner meanwhile was blunt in her assessment of the recent flurry of federal and state legislation pertaining to transgender bathroom access. She called conservatives’ fears that changes to bathroom and changing room access will lead to a spike in criminal behavior unfounded.
“In about 18-19 states, there are non-discrimination laws on the books,” she said. “There’s no rise in criminal behavior in bathrooms — there’s not one single case.
“A guy going into a bathroom, whether he’s wearing a latex diaper uniform or a dress, molesting somebody is illegal and we want him prosecuted and put away.”
Jenner later made a Massachusetts connection, claiming that the issue truly dates all the way back to 1877 when the Bay State enacted the nation’s first bathroom laws designating men’s and women’s rooms. A check on the state’s archives validates Jenner’s claim.
“Wherever male and female persons are employed in the same factory or workshop, a significant number of separate and distinct water-closets, earth-closets, or privies shall be provided for the use of each sex and should be plainly designated,” the law banning mixed-usage states.
Jenner asserted that the reason behind the law’s enactment “was because at that time the men controlled everything, and women were slowly entering the workplace.”
“They were going into the industrial world,” Jenner added. “Men didn’t really like that, they saw women as weaker, so they thought, ‘you know what, we can show that by having women’s bathrooms’ — they thought women are weaker and have to be protected.”
Jenner said she’s never faced opposition when using women’s bathrooms.
“I haven’t used a men’s room in a year and a half, and thank God because there are some great conversations going on in the ladies’ room,” she said, drawing laughs from the crowd. “And I just want you to know, girls, that I follow all the rules — I’ve never flushed a feminine product down the toilet.”
Asked during her interview with AUG President Margaret Hoover what she’d tell Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and other party members regarding LGBT issues, Jenner acknowledged that the group comprises a small voting block.
“I totally agree, it’s a small community, but they’re out there and they’ve been marginalized for so many years,” she said.
Television and radio personality Montel Williams also spoke at Wednesday’s brunch. Williams pointed out that the LGBT community is not as small as it appears.
“Guess what? That community is multiplied by their families,” he said.
Williams’s point did not go unnoticed by Carnevale.
“He jumped in at the end and reminded us about the friends and family — those who support the transgendered — that makes it a much larger segment,” Carnevale said. “And I do think the Republican Party is changing. I see certainly within our state, certainly and nationally, a majority of Republicans do favor same-sex marriages — a big shift in last 5-10 years. I’ve heard those in the community talk about evolution.”
Caitlyn Jenner talks about the role religious faith played in her life and decision to go public: