Earlier this week, Caitlyn Jenner made a terrible joke about the shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA). As the news came out that a left-wing gunman had fired on Republicans at a charity baseball practice, Jenner said “liberals can’t even shoot straight.” (We would like to point out that Scalise’s life was saved by a queer black woman who shot the gunman.)
Trans activist Janet Mock went on Chelsea, the Netflix talk show, and called Jenner “very monied, very white, very privileged.” Mock then explained why Jenner should not be seen as ever speaking for the trans community, only herself.
This is far from the first time that Caitlyn Jenner’s said something offensively tonedeaf. We thought we’d take a look at some of her other gaffes.
Before we do, however, we need to make one thing crystal clear. No matter how much you dislike Caitlyn Jenner, transphobic jokes are never appropriate. Not only does it belittle other trans people and help contribute to a culture that’s already trying to keep them from peeing, to paraphrase the brilliant comedian Emo Philips: Why be prejudiced against people because of their gender identity, when there are so many real reasons to hate others?
1. Caitlyn Jenner Offered to be Ted Cruz’s ‘Trans Ambassador’
Back in the early stages of the Republican presidential race, when it looked like Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio would be the candidate, Caitlyn Jenner offered to be Ted Cruz’s “trans ambassador”. Never mind that it’s the GOP that’s been leading the charge with anti-trans bills. At this point, transphobia is basically a plank of the party’s platform.
Cruz didn’t take her up on the offer — which shouldn’t be surprising. After all, as Seattle comedian Aila Slisco put it:
Caitlyn Jenner has roughly the same chance of becoming Ted Cruz's "Trans Ambassador" as Groucho Marx did for becoming Hitler's Rabbi.
— Aila Slisco (@ailas) March 6, 2016
To be fair, she did not extend that same offer to Donald Trump. Instead, she’s protesting his anti-LGBTQ stance the best way she knows how: By not golfing with him. We’re sure Trump’s heartbroken.
2. “Every Conservative Guy Out There Believes in Everybody’s Rights.”
We’re pretty sure that’s not the case. Look at the continuing fight to repeal marriage equality. Or the number of “Religious Freedom Restoration Acts” the GOP keeps trying to pass. (It should be noted that most religious Americans oppose such laws.) Not to mention the various “bathroom bills” we’ve mentioned above.
She also went on to claim Republican candidates want “a thriving economy so every trans person has a job.” Despite, of course, GOP politicians stripping protections based on gender identity — in fact, making it legal for companies to fire someone for being trans. If Republicans want every trans person to have a job, they’ve got a funny way of showing it.
3. Misgendering Someone? No Big Deal!
In an interview with Matt Lauer, Jenner objected to the LGBTQ community’s insistence on not misgendering someone:
Now, ‘the community’—you know, GLAAD, all the people in the community—are like ‘Oh my god, you have to get the pronouns right; you have to do this, you have to do that.’ I’m much more tolerant than that. I mean, I understand that it’s difficult for people to understand this.
Now here’s the thing: If you’re a trans or genderqueer person, and you don’t care which pronoun people use for you — that’s awesome! Everyone gets to choose the identity that works for them. If you identify as both genders and want people to refer to you with both pronouns? Rock on!
However, you don’t get to choose that for the community. You don’t get to say that other people are wrong for caring about pronouns. And when you consider that “gay panic” and “trans panic” is still a valid defense for murder or assault, we’re on GLAAD’s side.
And, we’d point out too, that, honestly: It’s not so hard to understand. As the comedian Paul F. Tompkins pointed out:
Fundamentally, it’s about not being a jerk. And Jenner doesn’t seem to realize that.