The Caitlyn Jenner Effect: Political Apathy Until Politics Personally Affects You

Photo by  Chris Boland

Photo by Chris Boland

By show of hands, how many of you voted Republican this past presidential election? Now, everyone who has regretted that vote please lower your hand. All hands left, please lower them, as we can’t really see you, and quite frankly, all those weird/worried stares you’re getting by those nearby may or may not be justified.

So let’s set the mood: You’re a straight, cis white male, early 30’s, a nationally treasured athlete, upper-class with a wife, kids and an Olympic medal. Now we’ll add some candles, a little eight-figure licensing deal(s), a Wheaties endorsement, and the mood is lit ASF. You’re privileged, you receive certain accommodations and most importantly, you can always pay for healthcare and live without the excessive worry of, I don’t know, let’s say deportation and/or police stereotypical subjugation, to name a few. Mazel tov.

Now, before I delve any deeper, there is absolutely nothing wrong with having any of those things. None whatsoever. I just listed those factors because you can’t character study without studying the character. Having said that, Jenner, sans Caitlyn, voted in a manner of the lifestyle he was accustomed to, as one does. Statistically speaking, a significant percentage of wealthy Americans tend to vote Republican. One possible reason is because it’s certainly easier to not identify with certain narratives that don’t personally affect them: assistance for the poor, social security, women’s reproductive rights, etc.

Now fast forward 30+ years and Bruce has now become Caitlyn, in a courage act of self-acceptance. Outlooks, friends, agendas, and sometimes family, most likely change as she transitioned into her new existence. Transitioned being the operative word, because changing your identity doesn’t always mean an immediate change in pre-existing socioeconomic belief systems. This brings us to the issue at hand; why is it so much harder to adjust or completely void belief systems that no longer align with a new lifestyle? How can a woman, who has unfortunately been discriminated against, vote for someone who openly discriminates against others, including those in similar positions as herself?

The factors vary, but in my opinion, some beliefs are so ingrained that to reject them is to reject parts of themselves that they aren’t ready to release just yet. Especially if they hold on to them tighter, due to other wholly life changing elements. Having said that, Caitlyn - this isn’t meant to be disrespectful to the LGBTQ+ community - placed her vote in this past presidential election as a cis white, wealthy male. Potentially void of encompassing empathy for the others it would grossly effect in an almost catastrophic outcome, she voted as she always had, Republican. In her own words, Caitlyn believed Donald “Pussy-Grabber” Trump was qualified to deal with women’s issues more than Hillary Clinton, an ACTUAL WOMAN. That is one of the more damning arguments I’ve heard her push yet. The biggest to the LGBTQ+ community, was that she felt as though Trump would be good for their rights.

She wore her MAGA hats, campaigned for Trump and pushed conservatism beliefs to help get the vote. Jenner was even ecstatic over his win and remained silent through the Affordable Care Act repeal and the Muslim travel ban, but only exercised her empathy when her restroom privileges were affected. This act incited anger through Caitlyn, because unfortunately she was now being discriminated against, but it wasn’t an issue when the discrimination was aimed at others. How is it that apathy, can quickly turn to empathy once they’ve experienced the divide themselves? And if they never experience it, can they ever fully understand the injustices others face on a regular basis? The answer is yes, but you have to want it. There has to be a want of equality, whereas Caitlyn, in spite of her belated pseudo-activism, appears to be solely out for Caitlyn or maybe is still learning. And if it’s the latter, I won’t ever deny anyone the ability to learn and evolve, because I’ve also had to push myself into more evolved, inclusive mindsets. The world is always changing and I’m resigned to leave my mind open enough to always support everyone’s life choice, including those who still have a hard time supporting others - I’m talking about you, Jenner.

In any case, over the past year Caitlyn has done a lot of growing. Whether it’s genuine or not, isn’t for me to decide, but inclusion has to start somewhere. With children being separated at borders, corruption, hate rallies and bans swirling through the atmosphere over the past 18 months, thoughts and prayers have to be coupled with action, voter ballots, and inclusivity for all. So, having said that, anyone looking to help change, to promote inclusivity and unity can always start here: