Caitlyn Jenner Says It Was Harder To Come Out As Republican Than As Trans

Photo: Larry Busacca/Getty Images.
Republicans looking to push their party to embrace LGBT rights and equality got some help from one of the trans community's highest-profile conservatives: Caitlyn Jenner.

Jenner took the stage on Wednesday at a "Big Tent Brunch," an event organized by the American Unity Fund and the Log Cabin Republicans to call for better understanding and support for the LGBT community across the party.

"The Democratic Party does a better job when it comes to the LGBT community, the trans community, and Obama actually has been very good from that standpoint…But I think the Republican Party needs to understand, they need to know people who are trans," she said.

Jenner acknowledged some of the backlash she's received this election season because of her views.

“It was easy to come out as trans, it was harder to come out as Republican," she quipped.

But she said that, while she's been disappointed with the party's politics of late, she "won’t give up hope” that the GOP will become more inclusive.

Jenner's appearance came amid a mixed week for LGBT Republicans and allies gathered at the GOP's convention in Cleveland. On one hand, the party's nominee, Donald Trump, is seen as the "most pro-gay in Republican Party presidential history," Log Cabin Republicans President Gregory T. Angelo told Refinery29. Trump's selection of Peter Thiel, a billionaire businessman and entrepreneur who is gay, as a speaker on the last night of the convention was also seen as a positive step.

But the official stance on LGBT rights adopted by the GOP this week has been denounced by the Log Cabin Republicans as "the most anti-LGBT platform the Republican Party has ever had." And Mike Pence, Trump's vice presidential candidate, has been staunchly opposed to LGBT rights.

Those decisions could hurt the GOP's efforts to attract and retain young voters. Polling shows widespread support for LGBT rights among millennials — and about two-thirds of young Republicans back same-sex marriage.

Rachel Hoff, who gave a moving plea for a change last week, as the first openly gay delegate to serve on the platform committee, said Republicans are "putting ourselves out of step with our own party" by failing to adopt more inclusive stances. For many young voters, LGBT rights are "litmus test issues," she said.

“We’re giving them a deal-breaker issue," Hoff told Refinery29 after the brunch. "I don’t know how we can expect them to vote for us."

Jenner, who was interviewed by the American Unity Fund's Margaret Hoover, said the GOP also needs to change its tune on bathroom access rights for trans individuals, criticizing lawmakers in Republican-leaning states for "creating laws for a non-issue." While she joked about the benefits of not using a male bathroom herself for over a year — she cited ladies' room gossip as one benefit of the change — Jenner said allowing access to bathrooms is essential for protecting LGBT youth who feel marginalized and continue to face discrimination.

Jenner ended on a note of hope. She said helping more GOP lawmakers and officials to understand that "people really thrive" when allowed to "live their life authentically" will help transform the party for the better.

“I’m not giving up on this country; I’m not giving up on our Constitution," she said. "I want this country to thrive. I want this to be the best place in the world to do business. I want jobs for everybody — I want jobs for the trans community. Hopefully we can make some positive changes if we can all work together.”

Watch the full conversation below:
Refinery29’s News team is on the ground covering the Republican National Convention and the Democratic National Convention. Follow along @R29News and check out our full coverage of the 2016 race here.

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