During his first show since replacing Bill O'Reilly in Fox News' 8 p.m. EST time-slot on Monday, Tucker Carlson interviewed Caitlyn Jenner about her memoir and status as a Trump supporter. Carlson and Jenner's exchange was civil and featured some helpful (if basic) explanations of the differences between gender and sexuality— but it was hardly revolutionary, as she took to the network to promote her memoir The Secrets of My Life and defended her decision to vote for Donald Trump in the 2016 election.
During the interview, Jenner said things like, "I'd rather convince the Republican party to do a better job when it comes to all LGBT issues than convince Democrats to lower taxes" and claimed that it was "easier to come out as trans than Republican." While Jenner and Carlson could have had a conversation that did more to promote LGBTQ rights in a nonpartisan way, it's noteworthy to see Jenner given the chance to explain the difference between gender and sexuality to the Fox News audience.
It's especially significant considering Fox News' audience is seldom given humanizing, empathetic, or non-fear-mongering representations of LGBTQ individuals. While this information may reach individuals who aren't typically exposed to frank, open discussions of gender, I think viewers need to remember that Jenner's experience as a white trans woman shouldn't be mistaken as representative of all trans women.
As Jenner's story and her self-proclaimed "conservative" views received more and more attention over the years, much has been written about how her visibility doesn't mean she speaks for all trans people. Further, many have claimed that over-representing and prioritizing her views, experiences, and voice over others in the trans community is harmful to its more vulnerable members.
As writer Sam Riedel wrote in her essay "It's Time To Ignore Caitlyn Jenner" for The Establishment, proclaiming Jenner as an authority on trans issues (particularly while she continues to promote policies that harm trans individuals who don't share her economic advantages) can create greater issues for the activists who have been in the trenches for years.
And that's not to say that Jenner hasn't promoted trans issues or lent more visibility to them. For example, over 17 million people tuned-in to what she had to say to Diane Sawyer about her transition during an April 2015 interview on ABC's 20/20.
"Millions of Americans now have a bridge to understanding the truth behind the struggles of being transgender in 2015 America," National Center for Transgender Equality executive director Mara Keisling told Variety. But that attention, in some ways, is a double-edged sword, as it can overshadow transgender individuals who aren't celebrities.
As having a platform of any kind is yet another privilege that comes with the responsibility to listen and uplift the voices of others— Jenner's continued visibility (on Fox News and beyond) makes it even more imperative to keep listening to and uplifting the voices of transgender advocates and individuals who don't share her fame.