Following a petition that called for a proposed award for Caitlyn Jenner to be rescinded and an Advocate op-ed by activist Ashlee Marie Preston that demanded the same, the controversial trans reality star will no longer be honored by Los Angeles's St. John's Well Child & Family Center. Jenner was scheduled to be given an award at a ball on Saturday that's part of St. John's TransNation film festival.
Jenner released the following statement on her website:
I am with you, and I am here to help
Last week, I had the honor of sitting with the staff of St. John’s Trans Health Program. With open hearts, everyone around the table shared their thoughts and feelings about the times that we’re in, and what we could do to heal the pain of our community together.
In this spirit of unity and love, 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.
Trans people understand what it’s like to be judged for who we are, and defined by a world that doesn’t understand us, so let’s present a united front in support of St. John’s Trans Health Program.
I am with you, and I am here to help.
Preston and other trans advocates were incensed that Jenner and her recently-launched foundation were being honored by St. John's; Jenner is a long-time Republican who frequently espouses support for anti-LGBT politicians like Ted Cruz and President Trump. Many trans people of color also believe Jenner uses her wealth and privilege to prop herself up as a spokesperson for the community.
St. John's Well Child & Family Center released the following statement about Jenner bowing out of the event:
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. However, we hear the concerns of local activists, and we take them very seriously. Therefore, Caitlyn will not be receiving an award at the Eleganza Ball or attending the event.
For us, it has always been about the patients who we serve. We have managed to focus on the human impact over politics. But, in today’s political climate, we realize that it is increasingly difficult to separate the two-- especially because 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.
As one of the largest transgender health programs in the country, we serve over 2,000 transgender patients, primarily trans People of Color and undocumented individuals. We provide primary medical care, hormone therapy, dental and mental health support free of charge. St. John’s has always moved forward with patients at the forefront of what we do and how we respond.
We remain committed to our mission to eliminate health disparities and foster social justice and community well-being by providing and promoting the highest quality care in South Los Angeles.
Let us not give up on each other. We welcome continued dialogue and need your help as we move forward. We will continue to work to expand the Transgender Health Program and allocate resources to advance the love and empowerment of the transgender community.
All of us at the Transgender Health Program look forward to seeing you at the Eleganza Ball, to celebrate transgender visibility and our shared history.