There are 1,000 reasons Caitlyn Jenner has no business running for Governor of California but her trans identity being weaponized is not one of them. Jenner has no political experience, no clear plan on how to help California, and more interest in herslf than the people she says she wants to help. Of all the things that are Jenner's fault - her utter lack of experience, her poor politics, her horrible morals - NONE of that has to do with her trans identity.
If people choose to use her trans identity to mock her or the rest of the trans community then that is THEIR bias and transphobia. It is not any queer individuals responsibility to walk on eggshells in order to support an image that we deserve acceptance. We are worthy just as we are. In fact, no individual should be accountable for “their people”.
When I finally dropped the weight of carrying “my people”, my pride and confidences soared. I grew up with an assimilationist mindset. Meaning, I grew up believing that individuals from certain groups were responsible to assimilate to my ideas of respectability, and that any individual from those groups could represent the group as a whole. Or, at the very least, one individual could tarnish the image of a particular group. A group of Black teens in a fight refortified my belief in Black on Black violence. A Muslim who believed in forced, female mutilation was a stain on Muslims as a whole. And I, as a queer individual, walked around feeling the burden of maintaining an image for the LGBTQ community. Willing myself to uplift us into so-called respectability.
When I started my transition, I felt this even more acutely. Taking it upon myself to combat the idea that trans individuals are unstable, unwell, and dangerous. If I got angry, a little voice told me to be careful. If I smiled at a young child in a grocery store, panic instantly rose and I wondered if someone thought I was unsafe. I believed the lie that in order to obtain equality I must prove my worthiness and the worthiness of “my people”.
But then I learned that my own assimilationist ideology was based in transphobia. The same way my ideas about Black individuals were racist and the way my beliefs about Muslims were Islamaphobic (and often xenophobic). We never expect a straight, white individual to hold up their race. We don't see two white boys fighting and sigh and say, "This is why crime rates are so high in their neighborhoods". And what about White Christianity? Hell, how many White pastors have been charged with a slew of offenses from sexual assault to physical abuse to embezzlement, and yet folks always point out, “that doesn’t represent Christianity!”? And they are right. They are absolutely right. In this same way, the actions of an individual queer person does not represent the LGBTQ+ community.
If someone has transphobic ideas, that’s THEIR work to do, not mine. If I have a prejudiced thought about a Latinx individual, it is MY job to confront that bias. It is not the responsibility of Latinx people to prove their worthiness or to assimilate until my racist ideas are dismantled. Cultures, Races, and Ethnic groups are not monoliths (they do not move, vote, and act as one). Treating them as so is a biased perspective.
Caitlyn Jenner does not speak for the queer community, but I am not going to run around and constantly demand people understand this because that’s THEIR work to do. If we want to grow and dismantle the ideas created by white supremacy, then we must start by dismantling the white supremacy thinking that created hierarchy. If we are all equal then we must see each other as individuals, responsible for ourselves and all equally worthy. And once we see the individual, we can start the work of leveling out centuries of oppression, racism, and forced assimilation through equitable (not equal - equitable) reforms.