opinion

"Caitlyn Jenner's message to Donald Trump wasn't brave. It was infuriating."

Late last week, former Olympian and television personality Caitlyn Jenner took an unexpected stand on Twitter against Donald Trump.

The president recently decided to revoke federal protections for transgender students at public schools – protections which allowed them to use bathrooms matching their chosen gender identity, and threatened to withdraw federal funding if the school didn’t comply.

Clearly this decision struck a chord with Jenner, who posted a video addressed to Trump to her four million followers, with the caption, “from one Republican to another, this is a disaster.”

She expressed a message of hope for the transgender kids of America, before directly challenging Trump. “You can still fix it,” she said. “You made a promise to protect the LGBTQ community. Call me.”

The video quickly went viral with international headlines running with the news that 67-year-old Jenner had ‘slammed’ the president.

What made the story all the more interesting, of course, was the fact that during Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, Caitlyn Jenner was one of the very few celebrities to vocally support him.

The transgender woman repeatedly praised the now-president for his attitudes towards women and the LGBTQ community, calling Hillary Clinton a “liar” who “couldn’t care less about women.”

ADVERTISEMENT

No matter which way you look at it, Donald Trump’s entire career has been riddled with misogyny. It seems trite to even begin to list the examples, but surely his language towards women, who he’s called “dogs” and “bimbos,” as well as his infamous “grab them by the pussy” comment, speaks volumes about his character.

Perhaps far worse than his words, however, is his support for policies that directly hurt women. Trump wants to effectively ban abortion, repeal the Affordable Care Act, which includes coverage for birth control, and nominate anti-choice justices to the Supreme Court.

The Mamamia Out Loud team discuss the realities of a post-Trump world. Post continues after audio.

Given that sexism and homophobia tend to go hand it hand, and are deeply interrelated, it’s no surprise that Trump’s attitudes towards the LGBTQ community have also always been poor.

The president has consistently opposed same-sex marriage. While originally, he said the decision to legalise marriage equality had already been made in the US, and he wouldn’t review it, he later said he would appoint Supreme Court judges who would overturn the ruling.

Donald Trump has simply never been an advocate for women or the LGBTQ community. So why on earth is Caitlyn Jenner only challenging him now? After supporting him during his campaign, and presumably voting for him on election day?

It’s not brave or inspiring to vote for a person who has made their discriminatory views clear, and then months later, publicly challenge them on Twitter when you feel like they’ve hit a little too close to home.

When I saw Jenner’s video, there was a concept that immediately sprung to mind.

It’s put most eloquently in a quote by Martin Niemöller, a German pastor who spent the last years of the Second World War in a Nazi concentration camp. He says:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

While there are a few variations of the quote, the sentiment remains the same. Niemöller was one of the first to acknowledge that in their silence, the German people had been complicit in the injustices done to the victims of the Nazi regime.

It’s a phenomenon that continues to happen today, and it’s becoming exceedingly obvious in the US.

"You made a promise." Image via Twitter.
ADVERTISEMENT

Caitlyn Jenner was fine for Trump to discriminate on the basis of race or sex or class. As an exceptionally privileged white, trans woman, Trump's policies, that have personally hurt hundreds of thousands of Americans, didn't affect her.

It was only when Trump made a decision that to Jenner felt tangible - perhaps because she's spent time with young trans people, and is uniquely aware of their struggles - that she decided to take a stand against him.

To me, that's not good enough.

Being a moral human being isn't about only caring about issues that directly affect you. It's about recognising when injustices are taking place, and standing up for the people who are often unable to speak for themselves - either because they're a minority, or they're silenced, or they're ignored.

What Caitlyn Jenner did isn't brave. She actively supported a man who preys upon the disenfranchised, and then attempted to get public accolades for challenging him on a single issue.

Her request for the president to "call me," is equally as infuriating. Caitlyn Jenner is probably in the exceedingly unique position where she can talk to Donald Trump when she has a problem. Over 300 million other Americans are not.

Our job as good people is to speak out against injustice - regardless of whether it personally affects us.

Because our silence speaks volumes, and has always been the deafening undertone of history's greatest atrocities.

FROM OUR NETWORK
00:00 / ???