Caitlyn Jenner said she wants to put together a state “commission” to determine on a case-by-case basis if trans girls are “truly trans” enough to play school sports.
“What I would do as governor, I would put together a commission,” she said on Fox News yesterday. “And trans women, who are truly trans, who at a very young age, you know, started proper medical treatment, they’ve grown up as girls, of course, they should be able to compete in girls’ sports.”
She appears to have taken her third position on the question of whether transgender girls should be treated equally in school sports. Jenner was for it when she gave a speech in 2015, but then came out against trans girls participating in school sports earlier this year after she announced that she was running in the recall election to replace California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D).
“This is a question of fairness,” she told TMZ several weeks ago. “That’s why I oppose biological boys competing in girls’ sports in school. It just isn’t fair.”
Fox host Dana Perino played that interview clip and asked Jenner why her position changed from her previous support.
“You notice I did not say in that statement ‘trans women,'” Jenner responded, referring to the TMZ interview. “I said ‘biological boys.'”
“What I would do as governor, I would put together a commission.” She said that the Olympics and the NCAA have strict regulations about transgender athletes, but high schools have “no guide rules, there’s no rules and regulations.”
“Trans women who are truly trans, who at a very young age, you know, started medical treatment, they’ve grown up as girls, of course, they should be able to compete in girls’ sports.”
“But some guy who hasn’t done any therapy, who hasn’t done anything, there has to be a review board,” she continued. She was referring to trans girls who have not received gender-affirming medical care like puberty blockers or hormone replacement therapy as “guys.”
“And I would be the first governor to put together a review board to review each case.”
Jenner then said it’s “such a small issue.”
“I would be surprised if there’s 30 trans athletes in the entire state.”
Fox host Bill Hemmer pressed her on why her opinion changed since 2015, and she stressed that she wants to “protect women’s sports” and “Title IX” from “biological boys.”
Her approach is different from the bills that many Republican lawmakers are trying to pass this year. States currently have varying rules on whether and how transgender girls can compete in school sports, including equal participation in some states, medical requirements in others, to outright bans in a few states, as well as some states that leave it up to sports organizing bodies’ or school districts.
California has allowed transgender students to compete as their gender since 2014. Despite the right’s claims that transgender girls will somehow destroy women’s sports, that has not happened in California.
Jenner appeared to be saying that trans women “who are truly trans” started medical transition at an early age, implying that those who transition in high school (but not earlier) are not “truly trans.” Jenner herself did not transition until well into adulthood.
It’s hard to imagine the constituency that would be receptive to her answer here. People who oppose transgender girls participating in school sports rarely have a deep understanding of the issue and wouldn’t fully appreciate the nuance she’s trying to bring to the subject.
But “Who is this for?” is the defining question of Jenner’s gubernatorial bid. A poll earlier this month found that only 6% of California voters said they support her campaign
The UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies/LA Times poll asked Californians about four candidates who are trying to unseat Newsom in the recall election. Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and lawyer John Cox tied for first place with 22% support, and former Rep. Doug Ose (R-CA) got support from 14% of voters in the poll for his campaign.
“Even among Republicans, only 13% say they’d be inclined to vote for her,” pollster Mark DiCamillo told the LA Times. “It’s a very poor showing.”
This isn’t the first time Jenner has alienated trans people in her campaign. Two weeks ago she shared an ugly meme making fun of Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Rachel Levine, the first transgender person to be confirmed to an appointed position by the Senate.