Shaw: Caitlin Jenner’s voice is selfish and exclusionary

While it is important for you to speak up when you are being directly attacked, it’s also important that you speak up for those who don’t have a voice and support them in their plight for fairness and equality in a world of systemic oppression.



(Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA/TNS)

Nichole Shaw, Opinion Columnist

Caitlin Jenner wrote an opinions piece on Oct. 25 for the Washington Post announcing she could no longer stand by President Trump’s marginalization of minority groups. Jenner’s piece came two years after Trump’s election and was in response to the attack of transgender rights with the impending threat of GOP redefining gender based on biological sex rather than a person’s identity.

While I support her decision to speak up for a group whose right to exist and be supported is being attacked by one of the highest forms of power in our nation, she also displays a problematic mindset: One should only speak up when one is directly affected.

The fight for equality should be a common goal reached through societal support by many, not just the group that is being affected. Otherwise, change would virtually never happen, and a better way of life would never be achieved for those who are oppressed.

While the new GOP stance on gender is not considered a hate crime, it does plan to erase an entire group of people and strip them of their rights with the narrow definition of gender as a “biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth.” This attack on the basic rights of 1.4 million people in the United States, according to a study by the Williams Institute, is something everyone should be concerned about. It’s going to irrevocably affect neighbors, friends, family members, and our community.

So regardless of gender identity, it’s imperative that people stand with transgender individuals to ensure exclusionary proposals such as this is never passed.

RELATED: UI Trans Alliance aims to create inclusiveness on campus, by organizing events for Trans Week of Actions

It’s also imperative to recognize other groups that are systematically marginalized and stripped of their rights, living in fear of those who abuse their power and terrorize a community. It’s important to realize that when Trump comes for the blacks, the Mexicans, the Muslims, and so many others, everyone must speak up and support those who are under attack. To stay quiet and ignore the issue because it doesn’t directly affect them is to enable those in power, persuade victims that they’re not important and worthless, and decrease chances of eliminating that marginalization or oppression.

When I reached out to the LGBTQ Resource Center, sources said they didn’t feel comfortable speaking on the issue. When I reached out to UI Trans Alliance, spokesperson Andrew Crowley declined to comment.

Despite their lack of response, the transgender community and their supporters have not been quiet on campus — they held a protest for transgender rights Oct. 25 on the Pentacrest. It’s of paramount importance that people maintain their energy surrounding this issue and others as they vote in the midterm elections today.

RELATED: UI LGBTQ groups rally against Trump’s narrowing of gender

There is power in numbers and intersectionality in activism. Oppressive systems are often inherently connected to one another, according to the Spectrum. So it’s inherently important for people to educate themselves on these oppressors and take action against them. That doesn’t mean they have to go to every single march or dedicate insane amounts of time to posting about every single social issue. However, it does mean supporting community members and voting those oppressors out of power today and in every election.

Unlike Caitlyn Jenner, people shouldn’t only speak up when they’re the ones being directly affected. It is inhumane and selfish to not speak up when they see other groups of people being targeted, abused, marginalized simply because it doesn’t affect them directly.