Caitlyn Jenner was not the story of the California gubernatorial recall election. Candidates who get 1% of the vote rarely are.
Now she knows how the rest of the 1976 Olympic Decathlon field felt.
Jenner has been booked as a guest co-host on “The View” for the beginning of this week, where she will presumably be discussing her run for governor. It would benefit her immensely to use this time to use this opportunity to begin trying to make things right after the most egregious moment of her campaign.
Because if there was a Jenner-related moment from the election that’s going to have lasting impact, it was how she sold out the transgender community and transgender athletes.
During her campaign, Jenner answered a TMZ correspondent’s question about trans athletes by proclaiming, “This is a question of fairness, that’s why I oppose biological boys who are trans competing in girls’ sports in school.”
But now that the race is over, Jenner has a very important choice to make.
She could double down on her campaign in the vain hope that if she becomes enough of an outlandish character, she can fill the next void in “reality TV candidate who brings actual reality one step closer to its series finale.”
Or she can admit she was wrong, apologize, and work to make things better for the trans community going forward.
It’s going to be incredibly difficult because there are numerous trans people who are justifiably outraged at her betrayal and who would not accept that apology or forgive her. Nor should they. Forgiveness is something that needs to be earned.
But here’s why she should do it anyway: sometimes doing the right thing is incredibly hard. Especially when the wrong thing is often rewarded with airtime and internet clickbait.
It’s now a question of what Jenner wants her legacy to be. For a while, it looked like she was going to go down as a hero after coming out publicly. It sure felt that way when she earned the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2015 ESPYs and during the inspiring speech where she literally said “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.”
Right now, that’s all gone. If she wants to regain any shreds of that reputation, she’s going to have to work harder than she ever has before. And here’s the hardest part: she’s going to have to do a lot of that work out of the range of TV cameras.
Trans athletes are still under attack throughout this country. While Jenner can’t make anti-trans legislation go away, it would still be a good start to hear her say that she was wrong to betray her community for cheap political points and that she will use her platform to advocate for them with for the rest of her life.
At the very least, it would stop giving bigots cover if they could no longer insist that they can’t be transphobes because Caitlyn Jenner supports their views.
This won’t be easy. It’s honest to goodness nonreality TV work and Jenner is addicted to living in the spotlight.
But if she wants to live up to the words she spoke that night at the ESPYs, it’s time to rededicate herself to advocating for her community. After winning an award honoring her personal fortitude, now is when we need to see it.