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Activists in NM city rally around LGBT migrants

Las Cruces is less than 50 miles from US-Mexico border



Members of AVID in the Chihuahuan Desert volunteer at the Las Cruces Womxn’s Rally in Las Cruces, N.M., on Jan. 19, 2019. AVID is among the organizations in the southern New Mexico city that have rallied to help LGBT migrants. (Photo courtesy of AVID in the Chihuahuan Desert)

LAS CRUCES, N.M. — Ivan, a 25-year-old gay man from Uganda, entered the U.S. on Christmas Day 2018 when he crossed the Rio Grande from Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, to El Paso, Texas.

Ivan told the Washington Blade during an interview at the offices of Alianza of New Mexico, a Las Cruces-based HIV/AIDS service organization, on July 15 that anti-gay discrimination and his family’s decision to reject him because of his sexual orientation prompted him to leave Uganda.

Ivan said he received a lawyer from Las Cruces when he was in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody in El Paso. Ivan had a second lawyer after ICE transferred him to a detention center in Houston.

Ivan, who asked the Blade not to publish his last name or picture, said he won his asylum case on July 9. Ivan said a volunteer with Advocate Visitors with Immigrants in Detention (AVID) in the Chihuahuan Desert, a Las Cruces-based group that visits migrants who are in detention facilities, helped him get a bus ticket from Houston to Las Cruces where he currently lives with PFLAG Las Cruces President Ryan Steinmetz.

“It’s good, though a little bit hot,” said Ivan when the Blade asked whether he likes Las Cruces. The temperature in the city was over 100 degrees on July 15. “I’ve never been to such a hot climate.”

Las Cruces, which is in New Mexico’s Mesilla Valley through which the Rio Grande flows, is less than 50 miles north of El Paso and the U.S.-Mexico border. PFLAG Las Cruces is among the local advocacy groups that have begun to assist migrants.

Steinmetz said before the Blade interviewed Ivan that PFLAG Las Cruces’ Rainbow Refugee Project began after a local advocacy group asked for housing for two gay couples who ICE was going to release on bond.

“I first said that I can do this because I had the space in my house to be able to house them,” said Steinmetz. “But I went to PFLAG Las Cruces … and said I want to know if PFLAG is behind this and could support these gentlemen during their time here and they were.”

Steinmetz said PFLAG Las Cruces soon partnered with other Las Cruces-based organizations — NM Comunidades en Acción y de Fé and Border Servant Corps — and Peace Lutheran Church, an LGBT-affirming congregation in Las Cruces, and created a sponsorship package for the couples’ lawyer and the immigration judge who granted them bond.

“That was essentially what allowed for them to be released because so many of them did not get released,” Steinmetz told the Blade. “We were able to show that they had that community support, they had a place to go and they had an entire community that was wrapping their arms around them with other support services, and donations and things like that.”

Steinmetz said PFLAG Las Cruces’ Rainbow Immigration Project has worked with eight gay men from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Uganda who entered the U.S. from Ciudad Juárez.

Three of these men are from Guatemala, and were “severely discriminated against and abused for being gay,” according to Steinmetz. He told the Blade one of the men was in a coma for a month and lost sight in an eye after his stepfather beat him because he is gay.

Steinmetz said a group of criminals who “were trying to clean the streets of ‘drogadictos e homosexuales’ (drug addicts and homosexuals)” added the same man’s name to a list “to be taken care of.” Steinmetz told the Blade the man whose stepfather beat him, his partner and a handful of other gay men traveled through Mexico on a freight train known as “La Bestía” (the Beast) before they reached the U.S.-Mexico border.

Steinmetz said the men tried to cross a bridge from Ciudad Juárez to El Paso three times in order to ask for asylum, but U.S. officials denied their request, “saying that you Guatemalans, you have diseases, you’re not allowed to come in or whatever.” Steinmetz told the Blade they used a tunnel to cross the border and enter the U.S. in Sunland Park, N.M.

“They crossed in a way that was illegal for them to cross,” said Steinmetz. “But they felt they had no other options because they couldn’t return to where they were from. And they needed to ask for asylum.”

AVID has also worked with LGBT migrants.

Margaret Brown Vega and Nathan Craig, who volunteer with the organization, on July 15 during an interview at their Las Cruces home showed the Blade a picture they received from a gay asylum seeker who drew it when he was in solitary confinement at the Otero County Processing Center, an ICE detention facility in Chaparral, N.M., that the Management and Training Corporation, a company that operates prisons across the country, runs.

Craig said he and other AVID volunteers visited the man and three other gay men who ICE detained at the facility after they and a group of more than a dozen other LGBT migrants from Mexico and Central America asked for asylum in the U.S. in Nogales, Ariz., in 2017. Craig told the Blade two of the gay men, including the one who drew the picture, won their asylum cases and now live in New York.

“We’re very fond of him,” said Brown Vega.

From left: Nathan Craig and Margaret Brown Vega in their home in Las Cruces, N.M., on July 15, 2019. Craig is holding a picture he and Vega received from a gay man who was previously in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody at the Otero County Processing Center in Chaparral, N.M. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Brown Vega and Craig spoke with the Blade less than six weeks after Johana “Joa” Medina León, a transgender woman from El Salvador, died at El Paso’s Del Sol Medical Center three days after ICE released her from their custody.

Medina had been detained at the Otero County Processing Center.

Craig said he and other AVID volunteers visited one of Medina’s podmates “who was expressing concern for several weeks about Johana’s declining health.” Brown Vega told the Blade the three other trans women with whom Medina was detained found out she had died on the news.

“We go to the facility once a week and we knew we couldn’t get there beforehand,” said Brown Vega. “There’s no way to reach people in detention. You have to wait for them to reach out and we were concerned they were going to hear about it.”

“It was strange to us the facility staff didn’t bother to tell them,” she added. “They thought she was still in the facility, but in medical isolation because that’s why she was taken out from where they were at.”

The Blade on July 24 interviewed Medina’s mother, Patricia Medina de Barrientos, in the Salvadoran capital of San Salvador. Medina de Barrientos and her family have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against ICE and the Department of Homeland Security over Medina’s death.

Johana Medina León died on June 1, 2019, three days after U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement released her from their custody. Medina was previously detained at the Otero County Processing Center in Chaparral, N.M. (Photo courtesy of Patricia Medina de Barrientos)

The Blade’s visit to Las Cruces took place against the backdrop of continued outrage over President Trump’s hardline immigration policies, his racist and anti-immigrant rhetoric and the treatment of migrants in ICE custody.

The White House on July 15 announced it will end asylum protections for most migrants who arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border. Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales’ government less than two weeks later signed a “safe third country” agreement with the Trump administration that requires migrants who pass through Guatemala on their way to the U.S. to first seek asylum in the country.

The U.S. has forced thousands of asylum seekers to return to Ciudad Juárez and other Mexican border cities under the so-called Remain in Mexico program to await processing of their claims.

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico, the Santa Fe Dreamers Project and Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center in a March 25 letter to ICE and the Department of Homeland Security said a dozen gay and trans detainees suffered “rampant sexual harassment, discrimination and abuse” at the Otero County Processing Center.

ICE in 2017 opened a unit for trans detainees at the Cibola County Correctional Center, a detention center in Milan, N.M., that CoreCivic, a private company that was once known as Corrections Corporation of America, operates.

The Blade is among the handful of media outlets that ICE invited to tour the unit on June 12. Trans Queer Pueblo, a Phoenix-based group that advocates on behalf of undocumented LGBT immigrants, on June 26 received a letter from 29 trans women at the Cibola County Correctional Center in which they complain about inadequate medical care and mistreatment from staff.

Massachusetts Congressman Joseph Kennedy in a letter he sent to Acting ICE Director Mark Morgan on June 27 demanded additional information about Medina’s death.

El Paso Matters President Bob Moore tweeted U.S. Sens. Martin Henrich (D-N.M.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) staffers on May 31 visited the Otero County Processing Center.

The tweet notes the staffers met with the facility’s warden, Ray Terry, and officials from ICE and Management and Training Corporation.

“Representatives from Sen. Udall and Sen. Heinrich’s staffs toured the Otero County Processing Center last Friday, May 31st, and held a meeting with the warden of the facility, as well as ICE officials and the individuals representing the independent contractor operating at the facility,” reads a statement from the senators’ spokespeople. “During their tour, representatives from Udall and Heinrich’s office (sic) raised concerns about the treatment and conditions for transgender and other LGBT individuals in detention at the facility.”

“At no point during the meeting did the OCPC (Otero County Processing Center) or ICE officials inform our staffs that a transgender individual who had been in U.S. custody had fallen ill, and was admitted to the hospital for treatment for serious medical issues,” adds the statement. “The senators believe that ICE should be fully transparent and publicly disclose all relevant information regarding this tragic and disturbing situation, and they continue to push for humane treatment for asylum seekers and for real solutions to this humanitarian crisis.”

“We were doing some thing to raise the alarm, but not enough,” Craig told the Blade as he and Brown Vega discussed Medina’s death and the circumstances that surround it. “We’ve certainly resolved ourselves to be much louder about those kinds of concerns since that took place.”

Craig said other trans women who are detained at the Otero County Processing Center have said they have been harassed after Medina’s death. Craig and Brown Vega also told the Blade the detainees have complained about a lack of access to hormones and food.

“They go to bed hungry,” said Brown Vega. “So, people just get used to being hungry all the time.”

Helegner Tijera Moreno mailed this illustration to an AVID in the Chihuahuan Desert volunteer while in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody at the Otero County Processing Center in Chaparral, N.M. The U.S. held Helegner in detention for more than 27 months before his deportation back to Venezuela. (Illustration by Helegner Tijera Moreno, courtesy of AVID in the Chihuahuan Desert)

Ivan told the Blade he did not experience discrimination because of his sexual orientation when he was in ICE custody. Ivan did acknowledge trans people were separated from other detainees.

“I wasn’t discriminated against, though the discrimination I did see was the transgenders,” he said. “They are kept in the shoe.”

Ivan also told the Blade he wanted to study tourism in Uganda, but his family didn’t support his education “because I’m a homosexual.” He said he would like to return to school and travel to other parts of the U.S.

“You never know what comes around the way,” said Ivan. “I have a passion for traveling. I would like to go to other states and see how other people spend their time.”

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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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