Caitlyn Jenner has appealed to Donald Trump to reconsider his rollback of protections for transgender students, saying: “You can still fix it… Call me.”
Trans rights activist and reality star Jenner is a staunch Republican and was, until now, an avowed Trump supporter. She spoke at the Republican National Convention in July and attended his presidential inauguration in January, and has been vocal about her belief that Trump would support women and LGBTQ people.
However, in a video message posted to Twitter on Thursday, Jenner slammed Trump for failing to keep his “promise to protect the LGBTQ community”.
“Well, @realDonaldTrump, from one Republican to another, this is a disaster,” Jenner said, adding: “Call me.”
Trump dealt a blow to transgender rights earlier this week when his administration scrapped landmark Obama-era guidance to public schools, concerning students’ use of bathrooms.
The initiative, which was introduced last May, said that transgender students should be allowed to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that they felt corresponded with their gender identity. Intended to reduce transphobic bullying and discrimination, it had been hailed as a civil rights victory for transgender Americans.
However, Trump has rescinded these guidelines, arguing that states and public schools should have the authority to make their own decisions without federal interference.
Hundreds of people have been protesting against Trump’s action in front of the White House this week. The Trans Lifeline, meanwhile – a crisis hotline “by and for” the US transgender community – received so many donations in the immediate aftermath of the President’s decision that its server crashed.
Jenner, who has spoken in the past about her desire to help her fellow Republicans understand transgender issues, also directly addressed the students who could be affected by Trump’s lack of support.
“I have a message for the trans kids of America: you’re winning,” Jenner said. “I know it doesn’t feel like it today, or every day, but you are winning.”
“Now I have a message for the bullies,” she continued. “You’re sick, and because you’re weak you pick on kids, you pick on women or anyone else you think is vulnerable.”
Referring to Jeff Sessions, the member of Trump’s cabinet who pushed the President to revoke the guidelines, Jenner said: “Apparently, even becoming the attorney general isn’t enough to cure some people of their insecurities.”
According to the 2015 National Transgender Discrimination Survey, transgender students are among the most vulnerable people in American schools. More than half endure verbal harassment, a quarter are physically attacked and 13% are sexually assaulted at school because they are transgender. Almost 80% say that they experience mistreatment between the ages of five (kindergarten) and 18 (12th grade).
It’s not only Jenner who has spoken out against Trump’s move against transgender rights. Orange is the New Black star Laverne Cox condemned Trump’s decision in an interview with Mic, saying: “These laws are in part about bathrooms, but they are really about whether we want trans people to exist in public space.”
She added: “When we have policies like this in place, it sends a message to trans youth that they’re not equal, that they’re less than and need to be treated differently.”
Even Jackie Evancho, the teenage opera singer who was one of the only performers at Trump’s inauguration, has criticised the President. Evancho, whose elder sister Juliet is transgender, said she was “obviously disappointed” in Trump’s decision, and appealed to him directly on Twitter.
“U gave me the honor 2 sing at your inauguration,” she wrote. “Pls give me & my sis the honor to meet with u 2 talk #transgender rghts.”
Images: Rex Features