Caitlyn Jenner, a former Olympic decathlon champion who is among the United States of America’s most prominent transgender women, said on Saturday that she is opposed to transgender girls competing in girls’ sports.
Jenner, 71, described it as a “question of fairness” and declared that girls’ sports require protection. She was making her first public comments on the issue since announcing her candidacy to replace California Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, in a potential recall election.
Jenner, who spoke at a 2016 Republican National Convention event, is expected to run as a conservative. The issue of transgender athletes in sports has emerged in large part because of bills, mostly sponsored by Republicans, recently introduced or considered by state legislatures.
Asked about the wave of legislative initiatives, Jenner told TMZ Sports: “This is a question of fairness. 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 schools.”
Jenner subsequently reiterated her stance on Twitter, adding, “I’m clear about where I stand.”
I didn’t expect to get asked this on my Saturday morning coffee run, but I’m clear about where I stand. It’s an issue of fairness and we need to protect girls’ sports in our schools.https://t.co/YODLDQ3csP
— Caitlyn Jenner (@Caitlyn_Jenner) May 1, 2021
Jenner achieved international fame in 1976 by winning the decathlon as Bruce Jenner. She has six children from three marriages, most recently two daughters with Kris Kardashian, whom she married in 1991 and divorced in 2015.
Jenner, for many years a fixture on the long-running reality series “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” publicly came out as a trans woman in 2015. She has since become an advocate for LGBTQ and trans issues, albeit with mixed support in those communities.
“Make no mistake: we can’t wait to elect a #trans governor of California,” Equality California, LGBTQ+ civil rights organisation, tweeted last week. “But [Jenner] spent years telling the #LGBTQ+ community to trust Donald Trump. We saw how that turned out. Now she wants us to trust her? Hard pass.”
Jenner said in 2017 that she had been discussing LGBTQ issues with members of the Trump administration, but, in an essay the following year for The Washington Post, she said she was no longer supporting Trump because “the trans community is being relentlessly attacked by this president.”
“I must continue to educate political and corporate leaders about the issues of homelessness, job discrimination, violence, access to health care, prejudice in housing, depression, suicide and so many other issues that disproportionately affect our long-ignored community,” Jenner wrote at the time. “I will still work with anyone who is committed to help our community.”
Her comments on Saturday drew criticism from some within the trans community.
Charlotte Clymer, an activist and former press secretary at the Human Rights Campaign, tweeted that Jenner “doesn’t understand the science, and she is pandering to the ignorance of anti-trans people.” Clymer added, “I have absolutely no problem saying Caitlyn Jenner supports and directly benefits from transphobia.”
A 2017 survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of 19 states and large urban school districts found that about 2% of high school students identified as transgender. Instances of trans youths defeating cisgender competitors in notable events have not been widely cited apart from two track athletes in Connecticut whose success in 2018 and 2019 sparked a federal Title IX discrimination complaint.
In March, The Associated Press reported that a number of state lawmakers sponsoring bills barring transgender girls from competing in girls’ high school sports could not cite a local instance of specific harm caused by such participation.