CLEVELAND, Ohio — Caitlyn Jenner came to Cleveland on a mission to help her fellow Republicans better understand the transgender community.
Jenner described herself as a longtime Republican in a Q&A at a Wednesday morning gathering hosted by the LGBT-focused American Unity Fund on day three of the Republican National Convention. Jenner joked that in the world of Hollywood: “It was easy to come out as trans. It was harder for me to come out as Republican.”
Jenner’s decision to come out as a transgender woman last year has helped amplify mainstream awareness of the transgender community and its battle for equal protection under the law. Jenner has become a high-profile advocate for LGBT issues, and she has a big platform through her E! reality series “I Am Cait.”
Jenner said she’s been “disappointed” in the Republican party’s platform during the past 10 years. Other speaks at the event, held in a tent outside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, called this year’s GOP platform “downright hostile” to LGBT concerns.
“I want to help the Republican party in so many ways,”Jenner said. “I think our best move to get back to a constitutional government is in the Republican party. I won’t give up hope on it.”
Jenner took specific aim at the slew of anti-LGBT legislative efforts in many states to restrict bathroom usage by gender. Jenner called it a “non-issue” and noted that more Republican legislators have been arrested for lewd acts in public bathrooms in recent years than there have been arrests of transgender people.
“Maybe we should ban Republican representatives at the state level from being in bathrooms,” she quipped.
Former talk show host Montel Williams also spoke at the gathering. He’s become active in LGBT rights issues in recent years. He likens the fight to ensure LGBT have the same civil rights as heterosexuals as similar to the discrimination he faced as black man growing up in the 1950s and ’60s.
“Having lived through that kind of hate, how in the world could I or anyone else who suffered through this be silent when there’s another group targeted by the same hate,” Williams said.