In the same Diane Sawyer interview where Caitlyn Jenner came out as a transgender woman, the Keeping Up with the Kardashians co-star revealed that she is also a conservative Republican. She added that she would champion the GOP "in a heartbeat"—but it took about a month and a half's worth of heartbeats for any of the party's presidential hopefuls to heed her call.
On Thursday night, CNN asked Rick Santorum if he would accept a campaign endorsement from Jenner. His response: "If that's the way she feels about my candidacy, sure… My job as a human being is to treat everybody with dignity or respect—period, stop, full stop, no qualification to that."
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham echoed the former Pennsylvania congressman's message on CNN this past Sunday: "I'm a pro-life, traditional marriage kind of guy, but I'm running to be president of the United States. If Caitlyn Jenner wants to be a Republican, she is welcome in my party."
So, why is it important that our presidential candidates weigh in on anything Kardashian/Jenner-related?
Despite the fact that Caitlyn Jenner only represents a very narrow definition of what it can mean to be trans, the Olympic gold medalist is basically the de facto face of trans issues right now. And, in case the reaction to her Vanity Fair cover reveal wasn't enough of an indication, the American electorate has a lot to say about the public narrative of her transition.
By identifying herself as a conservative Republican, Jenner has basically handed the GOP hopefuls a way into the discussion of trans issues on a silver platter—one that might even lead to one of them pushing for federal protections against housing, employment, and healthcare discrimination for trans people.
As Executive Director of the Log Cabin Republicans Gregory T. Angelo told Fusion in April: "Any Republican presidential candidate or potential candidate that is not ready to answer questions about how they feel regarding [Caitlyn] Jenner and [her] identity as a transgender, conservative Republican would not be doing their due diligence as a candidate."
Maybe someone should tell Mike "not going there" Huckabee that.
Bad at filling out bios seeks same.