[There was a video here]
The farcical degree to which Caitlyn Jenner was willing to blindly defend Republicans was on screaming display during last night’s second season premiere of her reality show, I Am Cait. Jenner is famously conservative (last week, The Advocate published a profile in which she voiced interest in being Ted Cruz’s “trans ambassador”), but last night’s episode vividly illustrated just how little logic or thought she’s put into that affiliation given just how little Republicans advocate for (and how often they advocate against) LGBT rights.
Here are just some telling examples of Jenner’s willful ignorance regarding the ways of the willfully ignorant (clips above):
- When trans activist and writer Jennifer Finney Boylan asked Jenner which Republican Presidential candidate would be most supportive of transgender people, Jenner’s response was, “All of ‘em...None of the Republicans [say], ‘Oh, I hate trans people,’ or, ‘I hate gays.’ Nothing like that. They do more, ‘I want a thriving economy so every trans person has a job.’” Here’s an example of Republican Sen. Travis Holdman filing a bill that would ban discrimination based on sexuality, but not gender identity, which would suggest, in fact, that he doesn’t care at all about trans people having jobs.
- When Boylan pointed out that it was conservatives who spearheaded the successful campaign against the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), which was voted down in November, Jenner wouldn’t hear it. “Don’t go there,” she said. “No it’s not. Republicans and conservatives are not these horrible people out there trying to oppress people...I don’t know anything of what they said down there, but I’m not blaming it on Republicans and conservatives.” When Boylan insisted that Jenner look at that—while wielding a newspaper—Jenner said, “No, I’m not gonna identify that.” On November 2, the day before the vote, Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, tweeted: “HOUSTON: Vote Texas values, not @HillaryClinton values. Vote NO on City of Houston Proposition 1. No men in women’s bathrooms.”
- When Kate Bornstein brought up Jeff Norwood’s “No men in women’s bathrooms” ad campaign, Jenner said of its creator, “Now, he may have been Republican, I don’t know, he might have been a Democrat. I don’t know.” When Boylan produced evidence of Norwood’s conservatism, Jenner said, “It just so happens he happens to be a Republican. I wish he was a damn Democrat. That would have made my argument much easier.” It also would have given her argument the credence that it doesn’t have because it’s a factually incorrect argument.
- “I don’t feel like they’re out to get us,” said Jenner of Republicans. “Every conservative guy out there believes in everybody’s rights.”
As the debate raged on, Jenner said of LGBT rights, “For the Republicans, it’s not a big issue. The economy’s the big issue.” That’s a problem, but at least it’s arguably true—a brief moment of vague clarity. For whatever reason, Jenner seemed more willing to believe in some fairytale version of Republican inclusiveness than the actual reality of the kind of discrimination, disregard, and bigotry that party promotes almost always implicitly and often overtly.
At least she’s got smart friends. This season of I Am Cait is set to document a cross-country road trip Jenner took with a bunch of trans writes and activists, including those mentioned above, as well as Candis Cayne, Chandi Moore, and Zackary Drucker. During the filming of this season, Jenner said some dumb things that drew public ire, including telling TIME, “If you’re out there and, to be honest with you, if you look like a man in a dress, it makes people uncomfortable.” This show promises to capture behind-the-scenes response to backlash, and Jenner being schooled by her trans peers, which sounds fascinating and a bit cathartic.
“I thought I knew a lot more than I actually turned out to know,” said Jenner at the start of last night’s premiere, reflecting on the footage that we were about to see. Could it be that Jenner emerges wiser as a result of being on a reality show? If so, does that mean that her human experience is even more singular than previously suspected?