Last week began with the news that former — and now future — reality star, “Bachelor” Colton Underwood is gay. It was soon followed by a leaked story that the now gay Underwood would be documenting his “journey” through a new reality series on Netflix. I wrote about the insincerity of his disclosure, which now looks like a closet escape built around fame and money. Ah, to be privileged!
Former *NYSNC performer Lance Bass agreed that Underwood was “monetizing” the experience. He went on to say, “When you first come out, most people ... have no clue about the LGBT community. They don’t know what the issues are, they have no idea because they’ve been so separated from that on purpose.” He advised Underwood, at this point, to “sit back, listen and learn.”
When Caitlyn Jenner introduced herself via a cover story in Vanity Fair, she immediately announced a similar venture like Underwood. Her reality series, I Am Cait, documented her transition into the trans world, and the reality was that Cait was far removed from the reality of life in the transgender world. Equally, she should have sat back, listened and learned before launching her E! series.
Out of curiosity, I watched the first few episodes of I Am Cait, up to the one where she announces her support of Donald Trump, gets hyper-defensive about it (talk about being the elephant in the room) in front of her other trans castmates, and then, because she wanted to “learn,” visited trans help centers that provided support for abused or scorned transgender women. Talk about stabbing them in the back. I stopped watching at this point because of her overt hypocrisy.
Her fervent endorsement for Trump in 2016 was grotesque. In 2018, via an op-ed for The Washington Post, she renounced her support saying, “My hope in him — in them — was misplaced, and I cannot support anyone who is working against our community,” Jenner prophetically wrote. “He has made trans people into political pawns as he whips up animus against us in an attempt to energize the most rightwing segment of his party.”
Better late than never, I suppose. But the irony of her announcement that she’s running for governor is that her team of campaign advisors are nothing more than Trump ass-lickers and acolytes, according to a story in Axios. She is being advised by her friend (who can be friends with this guy?) Brad Parscale, and we all know what he was like as Trump’s high-flying former campaign manager, raking in millions and showing off in his fancy cars and exotic homes. And worse, the dangerous disinformation campaign he built and ran and tried to run again, even after it was clear the man he put in office has sociopathic tendencies.
The advisors she’s working with are the same people making trans people into political pawns, whipping up animus against in an attempt to energize the most rightwing segment of the party. Her words came back to haunt her. Does she understand that the Trump machine is behind the more than 100 bills in 33 states that aim to curb trans rights, a record breaking year for such legislation, according to a story this week on CNN?
Honestly, her tone-deafness and duplicity are absolutely bewildering. The entire recall effort in California against current Governor Gavin Newsom is being driven by the Trump wing of the Republican party, and she’s running as a Republican to replace Newsom. This, in a dark blue state, where President Biden beat the former guy by nearly 30 percentage points. In her right mind, where does she think her votes will come from?
Trump Republicans are using transgender people as a wedge issue. Does she really think that they’ll make an exception for her? Vote for her while condemning and ostracizing the trans community all over the country? That is laughable. Moreover, she has done little to earn back the trust of the LGBTQ+ community after her backing of Trump, then renunciation, and now reunion. Does she think that we will vote for her because she’s transgender, despite the fact that Newsom is one of the strongest political allies our community has?
What does she hope to accomplish? Is her sense of reality so far from reality that it wouldn’t even make the cut for another reality TV series about candidate Cait? Is she looking for relevancy and attention? To be swarmed over by the media looking to sensationalize her run? Putting her front and center once again? It sure sounds like it.
One of her Trumpian campaign advisers tells Axios that Jenner has a greater name ID than Newsom and can command the kind of earned media that “will go to every possible demographic you could think of.”
All that attention for an out of touch woman, venturing out from her mountain-top Malibu estate, decrying that California’s taxes are too high (a real dent into her wealth I am sure), and criticizing the state’s "over-restrictive lockdown" response to the pandemic (she fails to menton that her home state has the lowest COVID infection rate in the continental U.S.). She sure sounds like Trump, and likes publicity almost as much as he does.
Which is what this is all about, again, I'm afraid. First, there has to be a vote on the recall itself, and currently 56 percent of Californians say they don't want a recall election. Thus, if the recall goes down, Jenner goes nowhere, except back up to her mountain top retreat after generating lots of PR for herself.
I thought I would end this column with sage comments from a Trump. When I spoke to Mary L. Trump over the summer, I asked her about Caitlyn Jenner’s support for her uncle. Here’s what she said, which sounds pretty visionary.
“I thought her transition was amazing and brave. Then I heard her endorsement, and I put her in the category of people who are completely willing to vote against their own self-interest. She seems like a wealthy person, and wealthy people seem to do better — not sure that’s true — by voting for Republicans.”
When someone is that privileged they are protected in some ways, which goes against anyone else who might not be wealthy or a member of a minority. Wealth is the greatest divider.”
John Casey is the editor at large for The Advocate.