Call her “Caitlyn,” but don’t call her “privileged.”
After being invited by Channel 4 to speak to U.K. Parliament on diversity, former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner used her speech to hit back at critics who say she’s too wealthy to understand the struggles of the average transgender person.
“When I came out the first year was very good,” Jenner told Britain’s House of Commons in a Thursday speech referencing her April 2015 sitdown with journalist Diane Sawyer, in which she discussed her gender identity for the first time. “Everything was going along great, then all of a sudden I became this ‘person of privilege.’”
“I didn’t ‘get it’ when it came to the trans community,” she continued. “We have a very marginalized community, and I didn’t ‘get it’ and I got so much of this for so long.”
Jenner appears to believe that her wealth and accomplishments are the issue.
“I will never apologize for everything I’ve been able to do because I’ve worked very hard,” said the gold-medal decathlete, who set a world record at the 1976 Olympic games. “I’m not going to apologize for working hard and being successful.”
But the reality is that Jenner was widely lauded by both the LGBTQ community and members of the general public after her 20/20 special debuted to record numbers two years ago. Heralded as “brave,” she was honored as a “Woman of the Year” by Glamour magazine and received the prestigious Arthur Ashe Courage award from the ESPYs.
Even a handful of gaffes on Jenner’s part were received with the recognition that as someone who had only recently come out in the public eye, the world’s most famous trans woman had a great deal left to learn.
Even Jenner admitted as much. During an interview with talk show host Ellen Degeneres, the athlete claimed she wasn’t initially on board with marriage equality (calling herself a “traditionalist”) but grew to understand the need for same-sex relationships to be recognized.
“I think, like a lot of people on this issue, I have really changed my thinking here to, ‘I don’t ever want to stand in front of anybody’s happiness,’” she told Degeneres. “That’s not my job, okay?”
“If that word‘marriage’is really, really that important to you, I can go with it,” Jenner added.
When she was criticized for telling Time magazine that trans women who don’t pass look like “a man in a dress,” Jenner similarly urged America to be patient with her. She admitted in an op-ed that “there are some things that I have not gotten right.”
But while Jenner appears to believe that it’s her gaffes and her bank account which have been a sticking point for the trans community, the true point of no return was her support of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. During a 2016 episode of her since-cancelled reality series I Am Cait, she voiced the opinion that Trump would “be very good for women’s issues.”
“I don’t think he’s out there to destroy women or take things away, or do any of that kind of stuff,” Jenner added.
Jenner was one of Trump’s most vocal celebrity supporters through his 2016 presidential campaign. At an unaffiliated event during the 2016 Republican National Convention, she claimed that it was harder to come out as a conservative than it was transgender.
Eventually Jenner would abandon Trump after he did exactly what she predicted he wouldn’trolling back LGBTQ rights and protections. Just months after the POTUS took office, the Departments of Justice and Education rescinded federal guidance advising teachers and faculty to allow trans students to use the restroom which most closely corresponds with their gender identity in schools.
In a February 2017 video posted to Twitter, Jenner called the policy a “disaster.”
During her speech to Parliament, she admitted that the man she helped get elected had set the United States “back 20 years” on trans equality. Calling London the “most culturally diverse city in the world,” she urged the United Kingdom “not to go down the same road.”
Prior to this week’s address, Jenner’s invitation was lambasted by members of the LGBTQ community.
Trans comic Shon Faye lambasted the public broadcaster Channel 4, which hosted her as part of its Diversity Lecture Series, arguing that Jenner is “far removed from what British politicians need to be hearing and considering on this issue.” Meanwhile, RuPaul’s Drag Race alum and model Carmen Carrera alleged that Jenner’s “number one mission [is] to be the Mother Theresa of this community.”
But in the face of continued criticism, Jenner pledged to continue using her voice for good. She said her “privilege also gives [her] a platform.”
“I always suggest to every trans person out there,” Jenner claimed. “Everybody has a platform that they can utilize to make it just a little bit better for the next generation coming up.”
Photo via Monica Schipper/Getty Images