Caitlyn Jenner — conservative icon?

Bruce Jenner is no longer Bruce, but Caitlyn Jenner, and the response and reactions have been overwhelmingly accepting.

This isn’t the aforementioned Bruce in a wig, but a buxom-looking woman in a seductive pose evoking the pinup models of the 50s.

everyone’s first reaction: whoa

It’s been mere weeks since the infamous and much-hyped Diane Sawyer interview, where Bruce Jenner confirmed that he was transitioning into a woman.

The general response was a great sigh of relief.

What started as a National Enquirer rumor (“Bruce becomes Brigitte!”) snowballed into a neverending assault of photos of Bruce’s ponytail, Bruce’s painted nails, is-it-or-isn’t-it a sports bra, and a medicated Jenner being ushered from a Beverly Hills plastic surgery office sporting bandages on his trachea (“I just never liked my trachea”, Jenner replied to nonstop media inquiry).

People knew SOMEthing was off and wanted an answer, dammit.

The Diane Sawyer interview was candid and far-ranging, including everything from a surprising revelation that Jenner almost underwent gender reassignment in the 80s to reactions from his ex-wives and children.

SAWYER: “Did you cheer the president – the first president ever to say the word transgender?”

JENNER: “He actually was the first one to say the actual word transgender? I will certainly give him credit for that, but not to get political, I’ve just never been a big fan of– I’m kind of more on the conservative side.”

SAWYER: “Are you a Republican?”

JENNER:“Yeah. Is that a bad thing? I believe in the Constitution.”

The look on Sawyer’s face when Bruce Jenner confirmed to the veteran interviewer that he was, indeed, a Republican, a Christian, and a constitutionalist to boot — was one of utter shock, disgust, and condescension.

gurl wut

The look was one that shouted: “How dare this man…woman…person…BELIEVE something DIFFERENT than what I’ve prejudged them to believe in based upon appearance?”

What surprised Diane Sawyer more than anything is the fact that people believe different things than, well, you’d believe.

It’s funny, because freedom of belief is a sacrosanct American value.

However, in a recent phenomenon (not in its existence, but it’s scale) people are expected to vote a certain way or have a certain value based upon their visual appearance, where they live, who they love.

African-American in DC?

Democrat to the bone.

Elderly white lady in Provo?

Republican, of course (and probably Mormon!)

Hispanic lesbian in Los Feliz?

You’d better be as liberal as they come.

“and after tonight’s showing of the ‘vagina monologues’, please make sure to dispose of your biodegradable organic popping corn bags and grass-fed butter packets in the correct recycling/upcycling container!”

It’s vaguely threatening to think that one’s beliefs must conform to specific guidelines of one’s appearance, an idea that comes off as “look like this, believe this…or else!”

It’s a primal, unevolved survival instinct.  If an animal looks a certain way, it’s a threat, if it looks a different way, it’s food.

this particular animal looks like FOOD

No matter its origin, it’s the definition of prejudice.

Think about it — if one’s gender identity, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity is not one’s choice — then one has no freedom over it.  You’re born with it.  It ain’t Maybelline.


Beliefs, however, form the arena of personal freedom.

Believe it or not, more than 1 in 5 LGBT Americans identifies as Republican.

Does that mean that 1 in 5 LGBT Americans is self-hating?

Of course not.

It means that people have a greater diversity in beliefs, than, well, you’re led to believe.  It also shows the need for reframing the political debate.  African-Americans, Hispanics, gays, Samoans, Jews — no group has monolithic beliefs because they’re just individuals who share a characteristic.

Back to Jenner.

For most of Bruce — now Caitlyn’s — life, Jenner has felt like a woman.

Also, she’s held relatively conservative values, on everything from Second Amendment rights to private enterprise.

Jenner even described the transition as God creating people as individuals, giving everyone in life a set of challenges, and his — now hers — is the struggle with gender identity.

This is a mindset you’d find in any church across the country.  Humans are flawed, humans struggle, God creates individuals uniquely.

These beliefs are a part of Caitlyn’s identity and should be respected in equal measure.

Vanity Fair is not considered to be a place where you’ll find a Republican covergirl.  But that piece, the subsequent reality show promotion, and overnight Twitter sensation has made her the most popular Republican in America — with more followers than any Republican candidate for President (and incidentally, she hit a million followers much faster than Hillary Clinton).

just please, for god’s sake, don’t have hillary replicate this look

Most Republicans and conservatives seem generally indifferent to the change. Pursuit of happiness, someone else’s lifestyle choices not being your business — that’s understandable from the folks with whom, as Jon Gabriel states, “the personal isn’t political”.

In fact, Democrats and liberals have had the most problem with the political effects of the transition, intolerantly questioning now-Caitlyn’s political leanings and then doubling back and misconstruing statements ranging from “meh” to “if he says he’s a woman, he’s a woman” by conservatives and Republican candidates about Jenner’s transition.

This would be a unique opportunity for the RNC to offer Caitlyn a speaking role at the 2016 convention and introduce Caitlyn to the candidates.

SAWYER: “You’re gonna go to Mitch McConnell and John Boehner and ask them to help champion [the transgender] cause?”

JENNER: “I would do that. Yeah, in a heartbeat. Why not? Yeah. And I think they’d be very receptive to it.”

Taking Caitlyn up on it would be a no-brainer.  By claiming her own identity as both transgender and conservative, Caitlyn has rejected existing identity politics which paint people with the broadest of brushes.

and let’s be fair, this looks a helluva lot cooler than another candidate driving a pickup truck

After all — the reason someone ascribes to a political party is belief in ideology. Belief in treating deficits a certain way, belief in a type of foreign policy, belief in a specific form of taxation.

This person’s beliefs, that they can choose, are equal to or arguably more important to who they are then the personal attribute — gender identity — that they cannot choose.

Clearly, it took a great deal of courage for an Olympian, A-lister, and American hero like Bruce Jenner to publicly debut as Caitlyn Jenner.

It also took a great deal of courage for Caitlyn to come out with beliefs that the interviewer, and many people in the audience, found incongruent with her appearance.

While Caitlyn’s gender identity has been hugely accepted, Caitlyn’s beliefs — because of her gender identity — have not.

Almost everyone accepts one identity — Caitlyn Jenner as a woman.  But most people don’t accept another identity — Caitlyn Jenner as a conservative.  To fully accept Caitlyn Jenner, you have to accept both.

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