Politics

Caitlyn Jenner Says She Supports Banning Trans Girls From Girls’ Sports Teams

Jenner, a Republican, recently announced her run for California governor in a recall election to replace Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Caitlyn Jenner attends the 28th Annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Viewing Party on February 9, 2020, in West hollywood, California. | Getty Images
Caitlyn Jenner attends the 28th Annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Viewing Party on February 9, 2020, in West hollywood, California. | Getty Images

Caitlyn Jenner, a Republican gubernatorial candidate in California, said she opposes trans girls and women competing on sports teams as their gender. Jenner, who is a 1976 Olympian decathlete, made the remark as several states across the U.S. are proposing or passing anti-trans legislation that targets youth sports.

“This is a question of fairness,” Jenner said to TMZ over the weekend. “That’s why I oppose biological boys who are trans competing in girls’ sports in school. It just isn’t fair. And we have to protect girls’ sports in our school.”

On previous occasions, Jenner has celebrated “young trans athletes.” But even as Jenner has spoken more frequently on LGBTQ+ issues in recent years and about her own transition since coming out in 2015, she has faced criticism from within the LGBTQ+ community for her perceived ignorance of the realities of more vulnerable members. Her latest comments about trans sports have exacerbated that tension. 

“I also want to acknowledge all the young trans athletes who are out there — given the chance to play sports as who they really are,” Jenner said in a speech accepting the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2015 ESPY awards. 

Jenner recently announced that she is running to replace Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) in a recall election. She has widely criticized Gov. Newsom’s COVID-19 response, but has yet to lay out a specific platform of her own. Back in 2018, she eventually withdrew her support for former president Donald Trump because of his anti-trans policies, though Politico reported that she did not vote in the 2016 election. 

Jenner’s argument that legislation excluding trans athletes from sports would preserve fairness in girls’ sports echoes that of Republicans who are pushing to enact bans on sports participation in their states. But researchers say that argument is not grounded in science.

The Human Rights Campaign says there are at least 66 bills throughout the country that would ban trans athletes from trans girls and women from playing on sports teams that align with their gender identity. In 2021, Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, and West Virginia passed legislation that bans trans students from playing on sports teams that align with their gender identity.

The Florida state legislature passed a bill on Wednesday to ban trans athletes from competing in girls and womens’ high school and college sports, and the legislation now awaits Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signature.

Nadine Smith, the executive director of LGBTQ advocacy group Equality Florida, said the proponents of legislation banning trans athletes from sports “are taking the public's natural inclination to be concerned with fairness and really warping it.” 

“We live in a state that leads the nation in attacks on trans people and trans women of color in particular,” Smith said in an interview with NowThis in April. “So, you know, in terms of addressing an actual problem where people's safety and lives are being lost, the legislature has shown no concern — but a fictional, made-up political problem where they are able to dehumanize and vilify the existence of trans youth, they make time for.”

Jenner is known by many Americans for her appearance on long-running reality show “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” alongside her then-wife Kris Jenner.

Before her remarks about youth sports, LGBTQ+ orgs had already opposed her candidacy.

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