Driving home the other night I was listening to POTUS on satellite radio and one discussion was on the land mine field that Caitlyn Jenner has created for the Republican Party and the occupants of the 2016 GOP presidential clown car. Already Mike Huckabee is dodging his "joke" to "Christian" broadcasters about he wished he'd claim to be transgender in high school so that he could have showered with the girls. Kathleen Parker picks up on the discussion in a Washington Post column that focuses on the danger Jenner poses for the GOP as it tries to avoid being the party of yesterday and of ignorance and bigotry (talk about major tasks!). It will be a spectacle to behold. Here are column highlights:
Barring a terror strike or an Ebola outbreak to distract us, the 2016 presidential election seems headed for a gender identity showdown.Within days of the release of Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair cover photo, Republican presidential candidates were being asked to comment, while conservative pundits were warning of a political apocalypse.
Leading the charge was Rush Limbaugh, who has advised the GOP to reject Caitlyn Jenner, even if she is a Republican. Big Tent Sign: Transgender People Not Welcome Here.
While some GOP candidates have avoided inquiry thus far, others have trod carefully around the murky issues surrounding gender identity.
Rick Santorum initially gave the correct answer to a reporter, saying, “If [Jenner] says he’s a woman, then he’s a woman.” But he was forced by outraged conservatives to backpedal and subsequently clarified that he meant to “express empathy not a change in public policy.”
If you think “legitimate rape” was a problem, stick around for “Can Jenner be a woman if he still has male organs?” Apparently, Jenner hasn’t yet taken the final physical step to becoming a woman, according to Vanity Fair.
As I have been recently tutored, sex organs are irrelevant to gender identity. Simply put, sexual orientation concerns with whom you have sex. Gender identity, which forms early in life based on multiple factors both pre- and post-birth, concerns who you are, male or female, regardless of the equipment you were born with.
Limbaugh isn’t wrong in predicting the coming stigmatization of conservatives as crazy or hateful because they’re not queuing up as popular convention requires. The danger for the GOP is that the loudest and kookiest voices will be harnessed by the media and trotted out as typical of the Republican base.
As always, volunteer crazies will present themselves, as did one fellow who wrote to me recently as “God’s Emissary.” “You are an agent of the antichrist and a wicked reincarnation of Jezebel! . . . YOU MAKE JESUS CHRIST WANT TO VOMIT!”
Accepting that transgender people are human beings, too, should not be that difficult. Granting equal protections to all regardless of race, creed, sex or gender should be fairly easy to process. Ultimately, the courts will sort it all out.
In the meantime, Limbaugh and others who insist that Republicans take a stand on Jenner’s transition are big fish lured by small bait. The media’s group embrace of Jenner’s transition should be seen for what it is — not a revolutionary step toward minority rights but a money grab for ads, ratings, sales and buzz in a culture of provocation and greed without ethics or conscience.