“I am not an icon,” Caitlyn Jenner, a transgender woman, told a crowd of Los Angelinos in the Ace Hotel Theatre on May 2.
At the Los Angeles Times Ideas Exchange with Jenner, ideas were told more than they were exchanged.
Clad in a skin-tight orange dress and size 13-wide pink heels, the 67 year old captivated the venue with her poise. Her especially interesting moments were when she spoke of her past and how being transgender has affected most of her life, including her Olympic career.
“Winning was a part of proving my masculinity,” Jenner said. “If I was normal, I would not have needed sports.”
For the first half hour, the audience was intrigued and listened carefully. However, their attention began to visibly dissipate once Jenner began to boast. She spoke of being titled “Woman of the Year” and started to hold what felt like an air of superiority over her spectators.
Audience approval disintegrated further as Jenner spoke about her conservative political opinions, telling that even though its agenda does not always support that of the transgender community, she identifies as a member of the Republican Party.
The crowd groaned and muttered under their breaths in disapproval of this obvious paradox.
Quickly jumping to her own defense, she explained that she believes she has the power to mold political leaders’ minds, being both religious and Republican. Boasting again about being charming and impressive, Jenner spoke of scheduling a meeting with the openly homophobic and transphobic Vice President Mike Pence, about transgender bathroom rights. She has already met with “about 15” conservative Republican senators and congressmen about these issues, claiming the discussions lasted for hours and “went well.”
It was difficult to hear her speak of these meetings and not tell that they had any effects. It was even more difficult to see, in person, that Jenner’s wealth and privilege provided her with an unprecedentedly fortunate transition experience.
She is known to have no interest in being affiliated with the LGBTQ+ community, after denouncing gay marriage on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” which made it a struggle to take her seriously at all.
Instead of advocating for the entire LGBTQ+ community, Jenner told that she prefers to focus on getting the transgender community to “come together.”
At the end of the event, she answered audience members’ questions. A transgender woman stood up and shared that her own transition was much easier and more widely accepted after Jenner came out. She thanked her for all she has done for the transgender community. The quaint crowd roared with applause.
It was an emotional moment, and left me wondering how Jenner could not consider herself an “icon.”