I am quite annoyed with Caitlyn Jenner’s stance on marriage equality (despite her back-peddling and justifying, she’s opposed). I am also annoyed with the fact that she’s a republican. I am even more annoyed with how those in the anti-equality camp use people like Caitlyn to make their case. From their perspective, an LGBTQ+ person against LGBTQ+ rights and freedoms is tremendous support for their position. The lack of support from a prominent LGBTQ+ figure can be surprising to us as well, but there’s something we should all keep in mind … being LGBTQ+ doesn’t mean you know anything about the issues facing the community, or the first thing about social equality.
Activists on both sides of history, take note because this is important. Being gay, lesbian, bi, pan, trans, queer, etc, doesn’t come with an instruction manual. Imagine the absurdity of expecting a cisgender female to know everything about the suffragette movement, or expecting an African-American child to be born with an innate knowledge of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We learn things by seeking out information, and even though being a member of a minority community does afford useful insight, it does not come with any particular knowledge.
Caitlyn Jenner is affluent, famous, and lives in a world that most of us can’t imagine. She is the most famous Trans woman in the world, and she should probably educate herself on LGBTQ+ issues before offering an opinion. I see no reason why we should necessarily view her as a credible voice on marriage equality. She is a person with her own interests and pursuits. She knows what she has sought to learn. Being Trans does not make her an expert of any kind.
During university, and ever since, I sought and absorbed as much information as I could. My knowledge of church doctrine, my reading of scripture, my understanding of struggle and how it affects those involved, my arguments against those who seek to deny rights and protect privilege, all came about because I worked for it. My identity as a Genderqueer person gives me insight into living that, but offers no knowledge. We earn what we know.
Caitlyn Jenner’s stance on marriage equality should not hold any weight in arguments for or against. She came out to the world, and for that she has rightly received accolades for her courage. She has spoken out against the mistreatment of Trans youth, and that is to be commended. She is not, however, an expert on LGBTQ+ issues, nor does she appear to understand what life is like for those outside of her economic class. We must not take her position on this to heart, and our evangelical opponents would be best advised to not jump to using her as an example of support. It bears repeating that being LGBTQ+ doesn’t mean you know anything about the issues facing the community, or the first thing about social equality.