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Top 10 local news stories of 2015

A new mayor, a papal visit and more



(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Below are the Blade’s staff picks for the top 10 local stories of the year.

#10 Gay Republican wins race for D.C. GOP chair

Jose Cunningham, gay news, Washington Blade

Jose Cunningham (Photo courtesy of Cunningham)

Jose Cunningham, a local gay Republican activist and prominent GOP fundraiser, won an upset victory in his race for chair of the D.C. Republican Committee in January 2015, beating incumbent chair Ron Phillips by a vote of 74 to 41.

Cunningham ran on a platform calling for the DCRC to take more aggressive steps to expand the membership of the D.C. Republican Party and recruit more qualified candidates for public office in a city with an overwhelmingly Democratic electorate.

The DCRC, which serves as the D.C. Republican Party’s governing body, has been supportive of LGBT rights, including marriage equality, for a number of years, placing it at odds with the national Republican Party.

In his role as the DCRC chair, Cunningham has an automatic seat on the Republican National Committee. Among other things, he has said he would push for removing anti-gay language from the national party’s platform at the 2016 Republican National Convention.


#9 Kameny memorial unveiled


The Frank Kameny memorial stone was revealed on Veterans Day at Congressional Cemetery. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A four-year saga surrounding efforts to secure a D.C. memorial site for gay rights pioneer Frank Kameny ended in November with a ceremony dedicating a memorial headstone in his honor at Congressional Cemetery.

Four gay members of the Army and one from the Navy stood at attention in full dress uniform as U.S. Air Force General Counsel Gordon O. Tanner, who’s gay, and Congressional Cemetery President Paul Williams unveiled the newly installed Kameny headstone.

The headstone along with a footstone bearing the slogan, “Gay is Good,” which Kameny coined in 1968, were placed at a cemetery plot just behind the gravesite of gay Air Force Sgt. Leonard Matlovich. With Kameny’s advice and coaching, Matlovich disclosed he was gay in 1975, becoming the first active duty U.S. service member to challenge the military’s ban on gays.

The dedication of the Kameny memorial site came just over four years after he died on National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11, 2011. He died of natural causes at his Washington home at the age of 86.

#8 D.C. judge criticized for ‘lenient’ sentence in hate crime

Yvonne Williams, gay news, Washington Blade

Judge Yvonne Williams (Image courtesy YouTube)

A D.C. Superior Court judge surprised court observers in August by rescinding an earlier decision to lower the sentence she gave to one of two defendants convicted of committing an anti-gay assault.

Judge Yvonne Williams, responding to objections by prosecutors, issued an order vacating her earlier order of July 15 that lowered the sentence for lesbian Christina Lucas, 22, from one year to six months in prison.

Lucas and her twin brother, Christopher Lucas, were convicted by a jury following a two-week trial on a charge of aggravated assault while armed with a hate crime designation. The case is the same one in which a grand jury took the unusual step of designating the assault as a hate crime, even though prosecutors didn’t ask it to do so.

Judge Williams came under fire from LGBT activists after stating in a post-trial hearing that she didn’t believe the two defendants should receive anywhere near the 15-year prison term recommended by prosecutors because the victim’s injuries were not serious enough. Prosecutors argued that the beating initiated by Christina Lucas and carried out by her brother and other men with them could have resulted in the victim’s death.

Williams drew further criticism by LGBT activists when she said she didn’t believe Christina Lucas could be accused of committing an anti-gay hate crime because she’s gay.

#7 ‘Runaway’ jury rebukes U.S. Attorney

A former member of a D.C. Superior Court grand jury disclosed in July that grand jurors took the unusual step of handing down a hate crime indictment in an anti-gay assault case after prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office did not recommend that the case be listed as a hate crime.

The former grand juror, who spoke on condition of not being identified, said witnesses, including a D.C. police detective and the gay male victim, told the grand jury in August 2014 that then 20-year-old Christina Lucas and her twin brother, Christopher Lucas, knocked the gay male victim to the ground and punched and kicked him while shouting anti-gay names.

A police report says witnesses told police that Christina Lucas slashed the victim’s face with a sharp object while he was lying on the ground shortly after calling him a “faggot motherfucker.”

A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office said the office was barred by law from commenting on any aspect of grand jury deliberations, which by law must remain confidential. In May 2015, a Superior Court jury found the Lucas siblings guilty of aggravated assault while armed with a hate crime designation following a two-week trial. A judge sentenced the twins to one year in jail and five years of supervised probation upon their release, a sentence that law enforcement sources criticized as too lenient.


#6 Gay candidates win Va. House, College Park mayor races

Wojahn, gay news, Washington Blade

Patrick Wojahn (Photo courtesy Wojahn)

Gay rights attorney and former congressional staffer Mark Levine won election in November to a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates, becoming the third out gay member of the Virginia Legislature.

On the same day, gay attorney and College Park, Md., City Council member Patrick Wojahn won election as College Park mayor, becoming the first gay person to serve as that city’s mayor. Wojahn beat fellow Council member Denise Mitchell in a two-person race for the mayoral post.

Levine, a Democrat, ran unopposed in the November general election in an overwhelmingly Democratic district that includes parts of the city of Alexandria and Fairfax County. He won an upset victory in the June Democratic primary in a five-candidate race, finishing ahead of Alexandria government official Craig Fifer, who was considered by political observers to be the frontrunner, by a margin of 27.8 percent to 24.3 percent.

#5 D.C. trans residents face ‘devastating’ poverty

Two studies of D.C.’s transgender community released in November found that similar to other parts of the country, trans people living in the District continue to experience “devastatingly high rates” of poverty, unemployment, employment discrimination and health disparities.

The findings of one of the studies, compiled from the largest-ever city-based survey of transgender people, were released in a 116-page report called “Access Denied: 2015 Washington, D.C. Trans Needs Assessment Report.”

Among other things, the survey found that 46 percent of the trans people living in D.C. participating in the survey earned less than $10,000 a year, with 57 percent of trans people of color making below $10,000.

The second study was conducted by the D.C. Office of Human Rights. It found that 48 percent of employers “tested” by the office appeared to prefer at least one less-qualified job applicant over a better qualified applicant perceived as being transgender.

OHR said the testing consisted of sending 200 made up cover letters and resumes prepared by OHR to 38 employers that advertised 50 individual job openings. One set of cover letters and resumes were written to give the impression the applicant was a transgender person, with the other set portraying the applicant as cisgender.

Details of the study along with its finding are compiled in a 28-page report called “Qualified and Transgender: A Report on Results of Resume Testing for Employment Discrimination Based on Gender Identity.”

Ruby Corado presents findings at the Wilson Building on Nov. 13, 2015. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Ruby Corado presents findings at the Wilson Building on Nov. 13, 2015. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

#4 ‘Gay pickup’ murder of lawyer at Donovan Hotel

Jamyra Gallmon, gay news, Washington Blade

Jamyra Gallmon (Photo courtesy of MVP Protective Services)

A D.C. woman who pled guilty in May to second-degree murder while armed for fatally stabbing 30-year-old attorney David Messerschmitt at the city’s Donovan Hotel on Feb. 9 was sentenced in August to 24 years in prison.

Jamyra Gallmon, 21, confessed to police that she targeted Messerschmitt for a robbery by pretending to be a man while answering an ad he placed on Craigslist seeking to meet another man for sex.

Police and prosecutors said she stabbed Messerschmitt at least seven times in the chest, groin area, arm and back when he attempted to fight back after she entered his hotel room and started to rob him of his possessions.

Hotel employees found Messerschmitt’s body in his room several hours after his wife reported him missing. LGBT activists said the case was a sad reminder that closeted gay men married to women sometimes fall victim to a phenomenon that has long plagued out gay men known as gay pickup murders.

#3 Trans woman named head of D.C. Police GLLU

Jessica Hawkins, gay news, Washington Blade

Sgt. Jessica Hawkins heads the GLLU. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier in March named Sgt. Jessica Hawkins, an out transgender woman, as supervisor of the department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit. Hawkins became the first transgender person to hold that position.

In an interview with the Blade, Hawkins said she planned to build on what she said was a strong foundation for the unit begun by her predecessors, including Sgt. Brett Parson.

Hawkins assumed her position at a time when some LGBT activists expressed concern that Lanier had reduced the GLLU’s effectiveness by assigning its officers to non-GLLU related duties for as much as half of each work shift. Police officials said the chief had made similar reassignments for members of most other specialized police units due to a shortage of officers brought about by a recent retirement “bubble” in which more officers are retiring than can be replaced by new recruits.

“My officers are dedicated,” Hawkins said. “We will make sure that when any GLLU call comes out they are going to respond to it.”


#2 Pope’s D.C. gay friend speaks out after Pontiff’s visit

Yayo Grassi, gay news, Washington Blade

Yayo Grassi and his boyfriend met with Pope Francis. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

D.C. resident Yayo Grassi, a native of Argentina, made international headlines in September when news surfaced that he and his boyfriend of 19 years met with Pope Francis at the Vatican Embassy in Washington during the Pope’s visit to the United States.

Grassi, 67, the owner of a D.C.-based catering business, said he has known and admired Francis since the future Pontiff was his high school teacher at a Catholic school in Argentina.

His and his boyfriend’s visit with the Pope drew media attention because it took place shortly after Kim Davis, the county clerk in Kentucky who refused to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples on religious grounds, announced that she had met with Francis at the Vatican Embassy.

Following a flurry of criticism that the Pope appeared to be condoning anti-gay discrimination by associating with Davis, the Vatican issued a statement saying Davis was part a group of visitors at the embassy and had not been personally invited by the Pope. According to the statement, Grassi and his family members were the only ones directly invited by Francis for a personal audience during the Pontiff’s Washington visit.

Grassi said he believes the Pope is making a genuine effort to change the church for the better for LGBT people.

#1 Bowser takes office, names 5 gays to Cabinet

Muriel Bowser, gay news, Washington Blade

Mayor Muriel Bowser at State of the District Address on March 31, 2015. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

In her first four months in office D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser appointed five out gays or lesbians to cabinet-level positions, including a first-ever appointment of a lesbian as deputy mayor.

In April, Bowser named lesbian activist and public affairs lobbyist Courtney Snowden as Deputy Mayor for Greater Economic Opportunity, a newly created position in the Executive Office of the Mayor. The position involves coordinating the city’s efforts to “create pathways to the middle class for residents in every corner of the city,” Bowser said.

The other appointees included veteran lesbian activist and media professional Sheila Alexander Reid as director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs; gay urban planning specialist David Do as director of the Mayor’s Office of Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs; lesbian housing and homelessness policy expert Polly Donaldson as director of the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development, and gay former city official Matt Brown as director of the Mayor’s Office of the Budget.

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Biden names civil rights veteran to U.S. Education Dept.

Catherine Lhamon’s portfolio will include LGBTQ rights, sexual misconduct, racial discrimination



Nominee for Assistant Secretary of the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education Catherine Lhamon. (Photo public domain))

The White House announced Thursday that President Joe Biden has nominated Catherine Lhamon to serve as the Assistant Secretary of the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education.

Lhamon currently serves as a Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Council for Racial Justice and Equity at the White House, where she manages the President’s equity policy portfolio. She is a former attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, (ACLU) and served as chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights from 2017 to 2021.

She has also served as Legal Affairs Secretary to California Governor Gavin Newsom.

Her portfolio at Education, where she previously served in the same position under former President Barack Obama, will include LGBTQ rights, sexual misconduct and racial discrimination in the nation’s K-12 schools, universities and colleges. Lhamon was Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the Department of Education, to which President Obama nominated her and the Senate confirmed her in 2013.

“I am thrilled that President Biden is nominating Catherine Lhamon to serve as Assistant Secretary of the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. Catherine has devoted her career to ensuring equity is at the core of all her work,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement released by his office Thursday.

“She has a strong record of fighting for communities of color and underserved communities, whether as the current Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Council, the former chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, or as a civil rights educator at Georgetown University. We are thrilled to have Catherine serving as Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights and know she will continue to fight for fairness, equity, and justice for all of America’s students.”

Lhamon has also litigated civil rights cases at National Center for Youth Law, Public Counsel Law Center, and the ACLU Foundation of Southern California.  Lhamon taught federal civil rights appeals at Georgetown University Law Center in the Appellate Litigation Program and clerked for the Honorable William A. Norris on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

“Catherine Lhamon is the right choice to lead the Department of Education’s civil rights division at such a critical time for the country and the agency. There is much work to do in order to roll back the harmful policies and legacies of Betsy DeVos, from her attacks on transgender students to her unconscionable revocation of discriminatory discipline guidance and rewrite of Title IX rules,” Adele Kimmel, Director of the Students’ Civil Rights Project at Public Justice told the Blade in an email.

“During her previous tenure in the same job, Catherine embraced equality, enforced Title IX and ensured students had an ally inside the federal government. She will do so again, and the Senate should move to quickly confirm her so she can begin the work of restoring the Department’s commitment to protecting the civil rights and dignity of students and implementing the Biden Administration’s pledge to undo the damage that DeVos has done,” Kimmel added.

Born in Virginia and raised in California, Lhamon graduated from Amherst College and Yale Law School. Lhamon and her husband and two daughters are transitioning between California and Maryland.

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IDAHOBiT events to promote intersectionality, resilience, allyship

HRC president to participate in virtual panel in Canada



(Photo courtesy of the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia committee)


Intersectionality, resilience and allyship are among the themes that this year’s International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia events will highlight.

Dignity Network Canada and the Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention on May 17 will hold a virtual panel that will feature Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David, Canadian Center for Gender and Sexual Diversity Executive Director Debbie Owusu-Akyeeah, Kaleidoscope Trust Executive Director Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, COC Nederland Executive Director Marie Ricardo and Rainbow Railroad Executive Director Kimahli Powell. The British High Commission and the Dutch Embassy in Canada have co-sponsored the event.

“We hope that this will be a really interesting and important conversation on intersectionality and transnational solidarity — and what it means for these leaders and their organizations during these times,” reads a description of the event.

The U.N. LGBTI Core Group on May 17 will host a virtual IDAHOBiT event that will focus on ways to develop an “inclusive and diverse post-pandemic world.” The World Bank Group, the International Monetary Fund, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Inter-American and Asian Development Banks host a similar IDAHOBiT commemoration.

“In order to heal from the economic, social, and public health dire impact the pandemic has had and still has, every plan of recovery must take into account a human-rights based, intersectional and gender responsive approach that addresses the specific needs of LGBTI persons in order not to leave them further behind,” reads a description of the U.N. LGBTI Core Group event.

Several Russian LGBTQ rights groups on May 17 will hold a “Vaccine for Acceptance” event that seeks to bolster allyship in the country.

Retired South Africa Constitutional Court Justice Edwin Cameron on May 16 will moderate a virtual panel that will focus on religion and anti-LGBTQ violence.

Workplace Pride and the Dutch Embassy in Budapest on May 17 will host a symposium on LGBTQ-inclusive workplaces in Hungary. M.V. Lee Badgett, an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts, on the same day will participate in a webinar the U.S. Embassy in Singapore is hosting with Oogachaga, a local LGBTQ advocacy group.

Haver Srbija, a Serbian NGO, on May 15-16 will hold Falafel, a film festival that seeks to build “bridges and promotes Israeli, Jewish and LGBTQI culture and communities” and highlight “various social issues in the context of the fight against prejudice, discrimination, anti-Semitism, homophobia and xenophobia and encourages the audience to develop critical thinking on the issue of these topics.” Proud Lebanon is slated to hold a series of six webinars between May 17-22 that will focus on feminism, LGBTQ rights and other topics.

The National Center for Sexual Education in Cuba will hold a series of virtual forums and other events through the month to commemorate IDAHOBiT.

CENESEX Director Mariela Castro, whose father is former Cuban President Raúl Castro, during a May 4 press conference in Havana said the IDAHOBiT events are part of the process of amending the country’s family code to make it more equitable for LGBTQ Cubans. Mariela Castro said a bill to amend it will be introduced in the Cuban Parliament in July.

“I was able to appreciate that the majority of the population … is in favor of recognizing the rights of LGBTI+ people and especially the rights in the family sphere that include the possibility, the option, of marriage,” said Mariela Castro during the press conference, according to Tremenda Nota, the Washington Blade’s media partner in Cuba.

IDAHOBiT commemorates the World Health Organization’s 1990 decision to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder.

This year’s events will take place against the backdrop of a pandemic that continues to exacerbate existing inequalities for LGBTQ people and other vulnerable groups around the world.

Consensual same-sex sexual relations remain criminalized in dozens of countries. Violence based on gender identity and sexual orientation remains rampant in the U.S. and throughout the world.

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Mixed reviews from transgender Republicans on Caitlyn Jenner’s run

Remarks on kids in sport a sore point among LGBTQ advocacy groups



Caitlyn Jenner was quickly repudiated by LGBTQ advocates after she entered California’s recall election as a gubernatorial candidate — and her fellow transgender Republicans are mixed over whether or not to back her up.

Transgender Republicans are few in number, but some are in high-profile positions and have been working with their party to change its approach and drop its attacks on transgender people, whether it be in the military, public bathrooms, or school sports.

Jordan Evans, a Charlton, Mass.-based transgender Republican who unsuccessfully last year ran to become a Massachusetts Republican State Committee Woman, told the Washington Blade she had high hopes for Jenner as a fellow transgender candidate, but they were quickly dashed after her campaign launched.

“My feelings changed quickly after Caitlyn made it clear that she was less interested in using this opportunity to present the Republican Party and conservative movements with an accessible and high-profile introduction to the trans community and simply wanted to be a trans woman who espoused the same destructive approaches that we just so happen to be seeing all over the country,” Evans said.

Evans said the high hopes she had were based on the transgender advocacy she said Jenner was doing behind the scenes and the potential for two prominent LGBTQ Republicans to run for governor in California. After all, Jenner may soon be joined in the race by Richard Grenell, who was U.S. ambassador to Germany and acting director of national intelligence before becoming the face of LGBTQ outreach for Trump’s failed re-election.

But Jenner’s approach to the gubernatorial recall in California, Evans said, is “putting trans youth at risk for a campaign that isn’t even transformative for Republicans during this volatile time.”

“Even her current messaging is superficial and does nothing to help dispel claims that she’s unqualified,” Evans said. “The only positive thing that I’ve seen come from this is conservative mainstream media using her correct pronouns, but that is not worth the damage that she’s inflicting.”

Much of the disappointment over Jenner’s campaign is the result of her essentially throwing transgender kids under the bus as part of her campaign at a time when state legislatures are advancing legislation against them, including the bills that would essentially bar transgender girls from participating in school sports.

Jenner, declining to push back on these measures and assert transgender kids have a place in sports, instead essentially endorsed the bills shortly after she announced her candidacy.

“If you’re born as a biological boy, you shouldn’t be allowed to compete in girls’ sports,” Jenner told TMZ, which asked her about the hot-button issue during a Sunday morning coffee run.

Jenner dug deeper into MAGA-world at the expense of solidarity with the transgender community. Last week, Jenner retweeted Jenna Ellis, who has a notoriously anti-LGBTQ background and was criticized just last year for refusing to use the personal pronouns of Rachel Levine, who’s now assistant secretary of health and the first openly transgender presidential appointee to win Senate confirmation.

Jennifer Williams, a New Jersey-based transgender Republican who unsuccessfully ran for a seat in the New Jersey General Assembly last year, said via email Jenner “did much good for several years by educating millions of people around the world about transgender folks,” but won’t countenance the candidate’s remarks on transgender kids in sports.

“In regard to her current run for California governor, her recent comments regarding transgender youth playing sports are confusing,” Williams said. “Just last year, she said that she supported transgender female athletes. Caitlyn should consult with tennis great Billie Jean King, soccer star Megan Rapinoe or WNBA legend Candace Parker on the subject of transgender athletes in women’s sports, as they are very well versed on the matter.”

At a time when state legislatures are pushing through legislation targeting transgender youth, restricting their access to sports and transition-related care, Jenner’s refusal to repudiate those measures has become a focal point for opposition to her candidacy from LGBTQ advocacy groups, who say she’s “out of touch” (although none were supporting her even before she made those comments).

The LGBTQ Victory Fund, which supports LGBTQ political candidates and public officials, has signaled it wants nothing to do with Jenner.

Sean Meloy, vice president of political programs for LGBTQ Victory Fund, said Jenner hasn’t applied for an endorsement from the Victory Fund “and she shouldn’t bother to.”

“Her opposition to full trans inclusion – particularly for trans kids in sports – makes her ineligible for the endorsement,” Meloy said. “There are many great trans candidates running this cycle who are champions for equality.”

To be sure, Jenner used her celebrity status as a former reality TV star and Olympic champion on behalf of transgender lobbyists, urging donations to groups like the National Center for Transgender Equality and going to Capitol Hill to lobby Republicans on transgender issues. Jenner has also given money for transgender kids to attend college, giving transgender advocate Blossom Brown a check for $20,000 on “The Ellen Show” in 2015.

Blaire White, a transgender conservative and YouTube personality, drew on these examples of Jenner helping transgender youth in a video earlier this month and said the two once had dinner together, but wasn’t yet ready to make a endorsement.

“I will say that until she lays out all of her policy positions and until she’s more on record in long form really talking about what she wants to do for the state of California, I can’t say for sure I would vote for her and would not vote for her,” White concluded in the video. “What I can say is: I’m interested. And also, being under Gavin Newson’s governorship, I would literally vote for a triple-amputee frog over Gavin Newsom, so she already has that going for her.”

Jenner’s campaign couldn’t be reached for comment for this article on the repudiation of her campaign from LGBTQ advocacy groups.

Gina Roberts, who’s the first transgender Republican elected to public office in California and a member of the San Diego GOP Central Committee, said she’s neutral for the time being as an elected Republican Party leader, but nonetheless had good things to say about Jenner’s candidacy.

“I think it’s awesome,” Roberts said. “It’s kind of indicative of how cool the Republican Party in California is because nobody really cares or it makes any difference. I mean, I was the first elected GOP transgender person in California and I think we’re ready for No. 2.”

Asked whether Jenner’s comments about allowing transgender kids in sports was troubling, Roberts said that wasn’t the case because she has her own reservations.

“I have pretty much the same opinion because … there’s so many nuances in that,” Roberts said. “If somebody transitions after they’ve gone through puberty, there is a big difference, especially in high school. If they transition beforehand, it’s not a big deal.”

A gun enthusiast and supporter of gun owner’s rights, Roberts said she competes in women’s events in shooting sports, but there’s a difference because she doesn’t “really have any advantages all those young, small ladies can pull a lot faster than I do and shoot faster than I do.”

Roberts concluded she’ll personally make a decision about whom she’ll support in the California recall election after Grenell announces whether or not he’ll enter the race, but can’t say anything until the San Diego GOP Central Committee issues an endorsement.

“He’s a good friend of mine, too,” Roberts said. “I know both of them. I think they’d both be certainly better than Gavin Newsom, I have to stay neutral until the county party decides who they’re going to endorse. I will support somebody or another in the endorsement process, but I can’t publicly announce it.”

Although LGBTQ groups want nothing to do with her campaign, Jenner’s approach has garnered the attention of prominent conservatives, who are taking her seriously as a candidate. One of Jenner’s first interviews was on Fox News’ Sean Hannity, a Trump ally with considerable sway among his viewers. Hannity was able to find common ground with Jenner, including agreement on seeing California wildfires as a problem with forest management as opposed to climate change.

Kayleigh McEnany, who served as White House press secretary in Trump’s final year in the White House and defended in the media his efforts to challenge his 2020 election loss in court, signaled her openness to Jenner’s candidacy after the Hannity interview.

“I really enjoyed watching @Caitlyn_Jenner’s interview with @seanhannity,” McEnany tweeted. “I found Caitlyn to be well-informed, sincere, and laser-focused on undoing the socialist, radical, a-scientific policies of Biden & the left. Very good.”

In theory, that support combined with Jenner’s visibility might be enough to propel Jenner to victory. In the recall election, California will answer two questions, whether California Gov. Gavin Newsom should be recalled, and if so, which candidate should replace him. The contender with the plurality of votes would win the election, even if that’s less than a majority vote, and become the next governor. There isn’t a run-off if no candidate fails to obtain a majority.

With Jenner’s name recognition as a celebrity, that achievement could be in her reach. After all, Arnold Schwarzenegger won the 2004 recall election in California as a Republican based on his celebrity status, and ended up becoming a popular governor.

But the modest inroads Jenner has made with the acceptance of conservatives and potential to win isn’t enough for other transgender Republicans.

Evans, for example, said Jenner’s candidacy is not only a disappointment, but threatening the potential candidacies of transgender hopefuls in the future.

“It’s difficult to be in electoral politics, and that’s even more true when you’re a member of a marginalized community,” Evans said. “Caitlyn’s behavior is making it even more challenging for the trans community to be visible in a field where we desperately need to be seen. She’s casting a tall shadow on our ability to have a voice and is giving credibility to lawmakers and local leaders simply unwilling to view us with decency and respect.”

Williams said Jenner should avoid talking about transgender issues over the course of her gubernatorial run “and instead focus on the hard, critical policy issues facing California.”

“It is a state in crisis and she has to run a very serious campaign and not rely on her celebrity or LGBTQ status to win over voters’ hearts and minds — just like all other LGBTQ candidates around the country need to do when they run for public office,” Williams said.

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