I Am Cait Revisits Caitlyn Jenner's Conservative Past

Photo: Matt Baron/REX/Shutterstock.
Caitlyn Jenner may be among the most well-recognized faces in the cultural conversation about trans rights and visibility these days. But she's also one of the most controversial — particularly within the community itself — because so many facets of her identity seem to stand in contradiction to one another.

Take, for example, her conservative ideology as it relates to to the upcoming presidential elections. On the March 20 episode of I Am Cait, she expressed that she's leaning toward voting for Ted Cruz, despite being fully aware of the fact that his social policies are decidedly anti-trans.

"I like Ted Cruz," Jenner said in an interview with The Advocate published in early March. "I think he’s very conservative and a great constitutionalist and a very articulate man. I haven’t endorsed him or anything like that. But I also think, he’s an evangelical Christian, and probably one of the worst ones when it comes to trans issues."

In the same interview, she also admitted that Democrats come out on top when it comes to social issues. But her support for the right is rooted in Jenner's belief that a Democrat in office is tantamount to the dismantling of America.

"If we don’t have a country, we don’t have trans issues," she told the magazine. "We need jobs. We need a vibrant economy. I want every trans person to have a job. With $19 trillion in debt, and it keeps going up, we’re spending money we don’t have. Eventually, it’s going to end. And I don’t want to see that. Socialism did not build this country. Capitalism did. Free enterprise. The people built it. And they need to be given the opportunity to build it back up."

She echoed those same sentiments once again on last night's I Am Cait. "We’re done, if Hillary becomes president, the country is over," she explained in a conversation about her personal politics. That didn't keep the reality star from snapping a photo with the Democratic frontrunner during the same episode, though. As Hillary Clinton walked by the I Am Cait posse following the Democratic debate they watched altogether, Jenner posed with her for a group shot. “I have to admit, I think she’s really good on transgender civil rights,” Jenner told her clique on the way out of the venue.

Her long and deeply-held beliefs align with how she experienced life for the vast majority of her 66 years on Earth: as a cisgender, privileged white man.

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"It’s kind of an interesting situation for me," Jenner also explained. "I’m in the one percent. I think we need a better tax structure."

That comment is central to the Caitlyn Jenner contradiction. Her long and deeply-held beliefs align with how she experienced life for the vast majority of her 66 years on Earth: as a cisgender, privileged white man. Yes, she was struggling with her identity under the surface. But the world treated her as a member of the elite, and that's what shaped her politics. Her past is also what keeps her from fully aligning with the trans community on the importance of progressive social policy.

Put another way: Caitlyn Jenner may be able to sympathize with the fact that members of the trans community have been marginalized and oppressed. But the events of her life keep her out of touch with the real struggles and suffering many trans people face. And for that reason, she continues to prioritize the tax code over civil liberty laws. At 66 years old, her political beliefs align with her head — and her bank accounts — not with her heart.

One more moment in last night's episode made it clear that not even Jenner has completely reconciled her conservatism and her identity as a trans woman. After the I Am Cait bus left the Democratic debates, they headed to Caitlyn's alma mater, the conservative Christian Graceland University. Caitlyn and the crew gathered onstage for a Q&A with students, one of whom posed a question to the group about how to reconcile religious beliefs with their trans identities. Though it was clearly meant for her, Caitlyn dodged the question, staying silent while another member of the group talked about her own faith.

Frankly, I don't blame Caitlyn for staying mum on that subject. Explaining why you believe what you believe is personal — and tricky — in the least charged of moments. But it seems particularly ineffable when you're still trying to figure out where you stand, somewhere at the intersection between your past and present, puzzling out how your identity fits into the grander scheme of things.
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