Caitlyn JennerPhoto: YouTube/Jimmy Kimmel Live
After St John’s Well Child & Family Center announced they would be giving Caitlyn Jenner an award at at their Eleganza Ball gala, thousands of trans people rose up in revolt. A change.org petition demanding the charity rescind the honor quickly gathered signatures and now both Jenner and St John’s has responded.
Ashlee Marie Preston, the petition’s sponsor on behalf of Trans Liberation Now, said she is tired of LGBT organizations honoring Jenner as a hero for the community at gala events, saying she has been “nothing but harmful to the LGBTQ community.”
“Last week, I had the honor of sitting with the staff of St. John’s Trans Health Program. With open hearts, everyone around the table shared their thoughts and feelings about the times that we’re in, and what we could do to heal the pain of our community together,” Jenner wrote in a blog post.
“In this spirit of unity and love, I’m going to decline the award they so graciously offered me for supporting their mission. I understand that my presence is distracting from the real purpose of the event, which is to celebrate the important and life-saving work of St. John’s. I will continue my commitment to helping marginalized communities through my foundation.”
St John’s also put out a statement, saying it is regretful it caused anguish to trans people. They were honoring Jenner for her support of their transgender health program, but acknowledged that Jenner’s problematic political stances are not popular with the LGBTQ community.
“For us, it has always been about the patients who we serve. We have managed to focus on the human impact over politics,” the statement released by the center reads. “But, in today’s political climate, we realize that it is increasingly difficult to separate the two– especially because transgender lives are at risk every day under this new administration. This reality has renewed our commitment to work to create positive change and bring members of our community together to heal. That begins with listening to our brothers and sisters.”
“[W]e hear the concerns of local activists, and we take them very seriously. Therefore, Caitlyn will not be receiving an award at the Eleganza Ball or attending the event.”