Caitlyn Jenner has had a busy couple of weeks. On April 23, Jenner announced she’s running for governor of California, hoping to unseat current Gov. Gavin Newsom. Last Saturday, she said to TMZ that she believes trans girls shouldn't be allowed to participate in girls' sports. And just last night, Jenner appeared on Sean Hannity's Fox News show to do the difficult work that is required of this country’s politicians during this time: lament the horrors that unhoused people impose on the white, rich, and powerful.
"My friends are leaving California," Jenner told Hannity while *checks notes* sitting inside her Malibu airplane hangar. "The guy right across, he was packing up his hangar and I said, 'Where are you going?' And he says, 'I’m moving to Sedona, Arizona. I can’t take it anymore. I can't walk down the streets and see the homeless.'"
Jenner's comments — coming from an out-of-touch, rich white woman who has never experienced being unhoused in her life — immediately drew outrage. After all, Jenner’s estimated net worth is an egregious $100 million. She lives in a $3.5-million ranch-style home in Malibu, CA. She owns a number of expensive vehicles, including multiple Porsches and an Austin-Healey Bugeye Sprite. So it's safe to say that her taking offense with Los Angeles' large population of unhoused people doesn't exactly bode well for her bid to become governor of California.
But it’s not just Jenner’s ignorance when it comes to unhoused people that is the problem — it's her lack of understanding that her own community, the trans community, is also plagued by this issue. Recent data shows that a reported 63% of trans adults and 80% of gender non-conforming adults are unhoused, according to data from the National Alliance to End Homelessness. One 2015 survey examining the experiences of over 27,000 trans people across the country found that one in 10 surveyed experienced violence at the hands of a family member once they came out, and 8% were kicked out of their home because they were transgender. The same survey found that 30% of respondents who had a job had been either fired, denied a promotion, or experienced mistreatment or harassment in the workplace as a result of their gender identity. And the unemployment rate among respondents was three times that of the total U.S. population, while nearly one-third were living in poverty.
Shelters that provide clothing, food, and housing to those experiencing housing insecurity often double as another source of potential danger for trans and gender non-conforming people. Of respondents who had experienced being unhoused over the past year, 70% said they were mistreated in a shelter because they’re transgender, and 26% said they avoid shelters altogether for fear they’ll be harassed or assaulted.
But just like Jenner has no clue what it's like not to have access to housing or shelter, she doesn’t seem to know much about the many other struggles facing transgender people. Shortly after she shared her gubernatorial aspirations with the world, Jenner supported Republican-led efforts to ban trans students from joining school sports teams that align with their gender identity. "This is a question of fairness,” Jenner told a reporter. “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.”
If Jenner truly cared about the problems of trans people who don’t live in Malibu mansions or fly on private planes, she would know that 43% of trans youth have been bullied on school grounds, and that 60% of trans and non-binary youth have seriously considered suicide. She would also know that studies have shown participation in school sports can lead to greater wellbeing, a reduction in anxiety, increased self-esteem, and improved overall mental health.
Of course, there’s also the possibility that Jenner does know these facts (after all, Google is a thing) and simply doesn’t mind sacrificing children on the altar of partisan politics. It's clear now, more than ever, that she is making an appeal to conservative Californians — rich, white ones at that — in her effort to gain political power. Unhoused trans kids be damned.