Yes, transgender Republicans (like Bruce Jenner) do exist

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While months of needlessly invasive media speculation adequately prepared us for Bruce Jenner's big reveal Friday night — that he* identifies as a woman — there was another coming out that basically no one saw coming.

The "Keeping up with the Kardashians" star also identifies as a Republican, and a "conservative" Republican at that.


And Jenner is no unicorn. According to a 2014 Gallup Poll, 21 percent of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans identify with or lean towards the GOP. While we don't know how many of those 21 percent identify with the T in LGBT, it's fair to assume that, like Bruce, some of them do.

One person who isn't so surprised by the revelation is Gregory T. Angelo, Executive Director of the Log Cabin Republicans.

"The assumption on the left is that everyone who is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender has to be a Democrat," Angelo said in a phone interview Saturday, "but I can tell you, based in my own personal experience, that there are plenty of LGBT Republicans."


"There's a tremendous opportunity for Republicans to show love and compassion to a community that they have not been famous for showing love and compassion to," he continued. "Any Republican presidential candidate or potential candidate that is not ready to answer questions about how they feel regarding Bruce Jenner and his identity as a transgender, conservative Republican would not be doing their due diligence as a candidate."

Another person who isn't so surprised is Jimmy LaSalvia, former Executive Director of GOProud, who says there are many reasons why transgender Americans might be drawn to the shade cast by the Republican Party's umbrella.


"It's not unusual to find gay people or transgender people who hold libertarian views," he said in a phone interview Saturday.

"Many people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, support limited government policies because it's normally the government that's treating [LGBT individuals] differently than other Americans. So, less government policies means less government intrusions in your life and less opportunity for the government to treat you differently."


That said, it's impossible to overlook the GOP's track record when it comes to protecting transgender civil rights (though, let's be real, neither mainstream political party has a great track record on transgender issues). It's no coincidence that many of the states that lack hate crime, healthcare, employment, and housing protections for trans residents…

State maps showing legal protections for transgender Americans regarding hate crimes (green), healthcare (blue), employment (purple), and housing (yellow), courtesy of the Human Rights Campaign.

…also voted Republican in the 2012 presidential election and the 2014 congressional elections.

Map showing states that Democratic nominee Obama won (blue) and Republican nominee Romney won (red) in the 2012 presidential election, courtesy of The Huffington Post.
Left map shows which states Republican (red) and Democratic (blue) senators won in 2014. Left map shows which states Republican (red) and Democratic (blue) representatives won in 2014. Courtesy of the New York Times.

Jenner told Sawyer during the interview that he would publicly champion the Republican cause "in a heartbeat" if Party leadership were to ask, but the GOP will need more than just a famous (not to mention white and super wealthy) face if they hope to have a truly inclusive coalition in the coming years.


* A quick note on pronoun usage in this article: We are referring to Bruce Jenner with male pronouns because that is what he asked of Diane Sawyer during last night's interview. He also declined to share a new chosen name. GLAAD has issued a statement and tip sheet asking journalists to "please respect his wishes and refer to Bruce Jenner by his current name and with male pronouns until such time as he requests something different."

Bad at filling out bios seeks same.

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