Dear Caitlyn Jenner, Please Reconsider Your Support of Ted Cruz

Our economy is not in mortal danger. Vulnerable trans teenagers are. Your support of far-right Republicans is dangerous.

03.08.16 6:55 PM ET

Dear Caitlyn,

As you probably expected, most the LGBT community cannot understand how you could support Ted Cruz, a fundamentalist Christian whose opposition to LGBT equality is at the center of his platform.

To this you have responded, on I am Cait, “None of the Republicans are ‘I hate trans people’ or ‘I hate gays.’ They do nothing of that. I want a driving economy so every trans person has a job.” And “if our country collapses it doesn’t make any difference if you’re gay, trans, whatever.”

I’m writing to you as a rabbi, a gay man, and someone who has worked in the LGBT community for the better part of the last 20 years. I am doing this because, as you yourself have acknowledged, you are one of the most visible, influential transgender women in history.

Your coming out was momentous—in Vanity Fair, in that ABC interview with Diane Sawyer—and since then, in speeches and I Am Cait, your voice and importance has only increased.

You thus have more of a responsibility to think, and rethink, your political positions. I’m begging you to do so.

The Republicans’ promised actions—especially those of Ted Cruz—would be absolutely devastating to us, and even to you personally. These are not little side-issues but are in fact central to Cruz’s platform.

The economy is not so bad as to justify selling out your community—the people who both have your back and need your support—to vote for your preferred fiscal policies.

What does the GOP want to do to you and me?

Let’s set aside the word “hate.” I’ve written before that it’s misleading, since a lot of these people are acting out of fear, not hate. Let’s focus on actions instead. The walk, not the talk.

Across the country, Republicans are now pushing “bathroom bills” that would force transgender women to submit to a humiliating “genital check” if they wanted to use the ladies’ room. Probably that wouldn’t happen to you, because you’re rich and famous, but it would happen to other trans women. And trans men. And vulnerable trans teenagers.

Think about it. Would you, Cait, feel safe going into a crowded men’s room, dressed the way you are today, identifying as you do today? And you’re a former Olympian. Now imagine some terrified 13-year-old trans girl, whose friends may not even know she’s trans, forced into the boys’ locker room.

Oh, and it gets worse. Here’s what your candidate, Ted Cruz, said about trans kids: “The federal government is going after school districts, trying to force them to let boys shower with little girls… the idea that the federal government is coming in saying that boys, with all the god-given equipment of boys, can be in the shower room with junior high girls—this is lunacy!

“You know, the funny thing is, my five-year-old knows there’s a difference between boys and girls. And yet modern Leftists can’t figure that out.”

Ted Cruz does not believe in the whole category of transgender. He says it’s not a real thing. He thinks you’re still Bruce Jenner, dressed up as a woman. He denies your basic humanity. How can you support someone like that?

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Cruz has also said he’d appoint justices to overturn same-sex marriage. He’s even supported the idea that sodomy should be illegal. And since he doesn’t believe that you’re a woman, if you date men—as you said you were thinking about on I am Cait—Ted Cruz would throw you in jail.

Again, maybe not you. But the vulnerable members of your—our—community.

Now, is this just some little side-note? Not at all! Maybe for some fiscal conservatives but social moderates like John Kasich. But definitely not for Ted Cruz. When he announced his candidacy, in his very first campaign speech, he asked his audience of Christian fundamentalists to “imagine a federal government that works to defend the sanctity of human life and to uphold the sacrament of marriage.”

How much more central could it be? This was one of his first points in his very first speech, announcing his candidacy for president. And that makes sense. He’s running as the candidate of the Christian Right. That’s his base. They are voting for him primarily, first and foremost, because he is promising to roll back the clock on your and my rights. And he’s not about to change his mind on any of it.

Ted Cruz comes from Christian fundamentalist royalty—his father, Rafael Cruz, is a well-known preacher who preaches a gospel that the end of the world is nigh and Christians should take “dominion” over the government. Now just imagine you’re a young trans girl in a Christian family. Your parents have been told you’re just a confused, sick boy. You’re sent to “reparative therapy” and beaten so you stop “acting like a girl.”

Ted Cruz is their candidate. To take but one of hundreds of examples, check out this conference run by a pastor who says gays and lesbians “should be put to death.” Speaker of honor? Ted Cruz.

You made a strong point the other day when you said, “we’re $18.5 trillion in debt. I think what they don’t realize is this country could collapse over this at some point and if our country collapses it doesn’t make any difference if you’re gay, trans, whatever.”

Let’s agree to disagree about the relative merits of Democrats and Republicans when it comes to the economy. I’d point out that President Obama inherited the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression (bequeathed to him by George W. Bush) and has cut unemployment and staved off looming economic collapse. But whatever. Even if the Democrats are worse, is it at all possible that “this country could collapse over this”?


The debt sure is high right now. But it only increased about 65 percent under Obama, compared with 80 percent under W, and 175 percent under Reagan. And that increase was because in a recession, governments spend money to stimulate the economy.

Also, check out this article in Time. According to most economists, the debt is actually not that big a deal in terms of economic security. The government isn’t like a household; it can print money, for one thing. And according to Moody’s, we’re still well in the “safe zone” in what they call “fiscal space,” ahead of Canada, England, the Netherlands—you get the idea.

So, even if you’re a fiscal conservative, we’re nowhere near collapse. And that means you have to ask yourself: Do you still vote your fiscal conservatism, even if the person you’re voting for thinks you’re an abomination?

And Cruz does not just think this. He will act, and vulnerable members of your community—whom you so eloquently defended in that ESPY speech—will suffer in real, tangible ways.

You and I can debate economic policy because we’re comfortable and safe enough to do so. But because of Christian fundamentalists like Ted Cruz and anti-LGBT policies of the Republican Party, some trans folk will be lucky to live through the night.

Please, I beg you to reconsider. Vulnerable people are counting on you, and this time, you are letting them down.

Yours, Jay