Ashlee Marie Preston, a transgender activist, wants the LGBTQ community to stop giving conservative trans celebrity Caitlyn Jenner awards before she is to be honored this weekend.
Preston is the activist who confronted Jenner at an event earlier this year. She is back at it, now calling for a children’s hospital to rescind an award they plan on giving the former Olympian. She has started a petition here in which she demands that “organizations stop allowing Caitlyn Jenner to purchase awards, honors and accolades as an attempt to mask her damaged rapport with the community at large.”
St. John’s Well Child and Family Center is a network of Federally Qualified Health Centers. They provide comprehensive medical, dental and behavioral health services for thousands of underserved, uninsured and economically disadvantaged residents throughout South Los Angeles, including Compton. St. John’s is also a community clinic that offers important trans services, too.
This upcoming weekend, the center is holding a TransNation festival that features a film festival and gala where Caitlyn Jenner will be honored.
The festival aims to highlight that “transgender and gender-nonconforming communities, particularly transgender people of color and those of low socioeconomic status, continue to experience barriers to accessing healthcare and a disproportionate burden of preventable disease and premature death.”
Preston argues that Jenner has challenged the work the center does by supporting the Trump administration. She says, “Jenner is nothing but harmful to the LGBTQ community by supporting an administration that has aggressively attacked transgender children, service members in the armed forces, and has reversed civil protections for transgender people which were implemented by President Obama.”
She continues, “When organizations honor Caitlyn Jenner despite the fact that their mission and vision are the antithesis of what Jenner stands for; it expresses tolerance for Caitlyn’s harmful actions, which ultimately breaks their promise to protect and advocate for the vulnerable, at risk populations they serve.”
“Caitlyn has given small donations ($25,000-$50,000) that are only a fraction of what she makes purely on the annual interest of her reported net worth of $100 million dollars, Preston writes. “Her tax breaks mean more to her than the issues that affect the LGBTQ community and our overall wellbeing. Her contributions do not make up for her awful track record and the massive amount of harm she has caused to the transgender and LGBTQ community at large.”
Preston threatens that if St. John’s Well Child & Family Center does not rescind their award, she and other demonstrators will protest at the Eleganza Gala.
“We will NOT allow her to carry on as if she is the Christopher Columbus of Trans Identity or the Trans Christ and savior.”
Preston also takes issues with the fact that the organizer and curator for the TransNation film festival is also the president of The Caitlyn Jenner Foundation.
“Instead of allowing a hard working, well respected African-American trans woman have her moment, Caitlyn Jenner used it as an opportunity to center herself by having Zackary Drucker her President, honor her at this event!”
Preston claims in her petition that Jenner is a “humanitarian fraud” and who makes false claims that her foundation is benefitting all trans people when there are no people of color on her staff or board.
Update: Jenner has declined to accept the award this weekend. Her statement reads in part:
I’m going to decline the award they so graciously offered me for supporting their mission. I understand that my presence is distracting from the real purpose of the event, which is to celebrate the important and life-saving work of St. John’s. I will continue my commitment to helping marginalized communities through my foundation.
The St. John’s Well Child & Family Center has also released a statement which reads (in part):
We deeply regret that our actions have hurt and divided the transgender community. That was not our intention. Our mission has always been to uplift and move our community forward. We originally decided to honor Caitlyn Jenner, due to her support of our Transgender Health Program, when few others were stepping up….
Transgender lives are at risk every day under this new administration. This reality has renewed our commitment to work to create positive change and bring members of our community together to heal. That begins with listening to our brothers and sisters.