Reality celebrity and former Olympian gold medalist Caitlyn Jenner likes U.S. Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz so much, Jenner wants to be his "trans ambassador." However, this sign of support drew criticism on Friday from some LGBTQ community members, with major transgender rights organizations staying out of the fray.
Jenner, 66, who claims to be a life-long Republican, was asked in an interview Wednesday with the gay and lesbian publication The Advocate about support for the GOP nomination, Jenner said, "I like Ted Cruz."
"I think he's very conservative, and a great constitutionalist, and a very articulate man," Jenner said. "I haven't endorsed him or anything like that. But I also think, he's an evangelical Christian, and probably one of the worst ones when it comes to trans issues."
Jenner acknowledged many within the LGBTQ community may view conservative politics as a contradiction given the high-profile transition from male to female last year and the focus on transgender issues on the E! reality show "I Am Cait."
However, Jenner said unless the country repairs the economy and government is reformed, there will be no transgender issues to champion.
Jenner said Democrats are better when it comes to these types of social issues. "I understand that. Number one, if we don't have a country, we don't have trans issues. We need jobs. We need a vibrant economy. I want every trans person to have a job. With $19 trillion in debt and it keeps going up, we're spending money we don't have."
Jenner also shared that "socialism did not build" the United States, arguing that the next president must back capitalist, free enterprise policies to restore a vibrant economy. "The people built [the economy]," Jenner added. "And they need to be given the opportunity to build it back up."
Based on one meeting prior to the transition, Jenner thought Cruz was "very nice." Then came the offer to be his "trans ambassador."
"Yes, trans ambassador to the president of the United States, so we can say, 'Ted, love what you're doing but here's what's going on,'" Jenner said.
Some LGBTQ members cited Cruz's opposition to same-sex marriage and his criticism of government efforts to allow students to use a bathroom that conforms to their gender identity. In November, Senator Cruz was asked about moves by the Obama administration to legally protect the rights of trans students. Cruz called the measure "ridiculous" and said it was fueled by "zealots." "I'm the father of two little girls ... I don't want my daughters taking showers with little boys," Cruz said.
"Doing my best to not send tweets to a woman I respect for her courage, but dang it, @Caitlyn_Jenner you're killing me with Cruz support!" Chely Wright, the first country music star to come out as gay, wrote in a post on Twitter.
Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said Jenner's comments highlight the fact a significant share of transgender people are Republicans, reports Reuters.