All too often, we do that proverbial "judge a book by its cover" thing when it comes to celebs. But just because someone looks a certain way or comes from a certain place doesn't mean that their politics are what you assume they will be. Which is why Caitlyn Jenner's comments about Hillary Clinton might actually be good for transgender equality. On the season two premiere of I Am Cait Sunday, Jenner told her friends that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is not the best choice for president because she "could care less about women." Jenner summed up a lot of Clinton opponents by concluding that the candidate not only doesn't care about women but that she only "cares about herself."
Jenner received a lot of backlash early in the week for her comments. As a transgender woman, it seems obvious that she should want to vote for the first viable woman candidate for president, right? Not so much. Jenner has previously spoken publicly about her support for the Republican party and an affinity for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. It's certainly not because of Cruz' stance on LGBT rights. She told The Advocate that he's "probably one of the worst ones when it comes to trans issues." But she likes the Republican candidate's economic philosophy and that he's a "strict constitutionalist."
There are lots of reasons to raise your eyebrows at Jenner getting behind Ted Cruz, who doesn't even think that transgender rights are a thing. Cruz is way behind the times when it comes to equality. He's actually said on the campaign trail:
The idea that the federal government is coming in saying that boys, with all the god-given equipment of boys, can be in the shower room with junior high girls—this is lunacy!
But the fact that Jenner is able to separate her support for trans rights from her position on the economy actually works in the transgender community's favor. No, Jenner is not helping in the fight for equality by supporting Republican candidates; the party as a whole is pretty hostile towards the LGBT community and women's autonomy overall. But she is demonstrating that people can't be lumped together when it comes to gender, age, or social class, and that's important, too. By speaking out against Clinton, Jenner shows that it's OK to break from the herd. Jenner is a wealthy, white, conservative. And she's voting like one, reality star and transgender icon notwithstanding.
In fact, the Clinton campaign should take note. Already, the former Secretary of State has lost many young, female voters to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders simply because it seems her campaign was banking on women voting for her just because she's a woman, The Christian Science Monitor noted. That just doesn't cut it when it comes to voters who are really scrutinizing the platforms of each candidate. Clinton has actually proposed an anti-discrimination law, the Equality Act, that "outlaws" discrimination against LGBT individuals domestically and has worked to promote equality abroad. That doesn't mean trans people are going to vote for her. That Jenner can look beyond that and publicly support candidates that think the complete opposite is telling.
Jenner seems, like many, to be able to compartmentalize and prioritize certain values when it comes to electing a president. Many lower-middle class voters choose Republican candidates for their stances on social issues rather than vote for Democratic candidates whose economic platforms might work more in their favor. Likewise, just because Jenner is transgender doesn't mean she has to vote for candidates who support transgender rights as part of their platforms. For her, a candidate's economic policy is evidently more important. Her endorsement of a candidate like Cruz doesn't directly affect the fight for equality, but it does help to show that transgender individuals aren't all the same.
Sometimes people surprise you, though it doesn't seem likely Cruz will take her up on her "ambassador" idea anytime soon. It's not ideal for those who would prefer Jenner to be a perfect spokeswoman for trans people, but not everyone can fit into the molds we make for them. And isn't that what the transgender equality movement is all about showing?