Caitlyn Jenner may be the most famous trans person on the planet, but she's not loved by all.
Angry protesters gathered outside a Hilton hotel in Chicago where Jenner had a speaking engagement on Thursday, calling her “an insult to trans people” and “an insult to women.”
Jenner gave a speech as part of a fundraising event for Chicago House, a nonprofit that was established in the 1980s to provide housing and case management to people with HIV or AIDS and expanded in 2013 with the TransLife Center, a program offering supportive housing and social services to transgender people, regardless of HIV status.
But protesters feel Jenner is not an appropriate representative for transgender people because she has not faced the same struggle and discrimination as many have. “Make the services and make this movement and this plea for trans tolerance intentional and direct for the people who are facing the violence every day on the streets, the people who are being discriminated against on the basis of their gender and their race at the same time,” protester Monica James told the Chicago Tribune. “She can’t speak to those struggles. It defaces the real truth behind transitioning.”
Organizers of the protest, dubbed “I Ain’t Cait,” set up a Facebook page for the demonstration. They described Jenner as “a clueless rich white woman who thinks disenfranchised trans women of color should just pluck themselves up off the street and stop being so lazy.”
The page included a clip from her reality TV series, I Am Cait, in which she speaks about those who utilize social services: “You don’t want people to get totally dependent on it. That’s when they get into trouble. ‘Why should I work? You know, I’ve got a few bucks, I’ve got my room paid for.’”
Chicago House CEO Stan Sloan told the Tribune that Jenner’s appearance would help bring attention to transgender issues, but admitted Jenner is a work-in-progress. “She's a lightning rod,” Sloan said. “You can’t have that level of fame without having some kind of controversial notoriety that goes with it. The important part is to help her to grow and to help her evolve so that she can be the best representative possible for the communities we serve.”
To hear about some of the issues facing trans youth of color watch the original BET.com documentary Holler If You Hear Me: Black and Gay in the Church, below:
(Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Victoria's Secret)