‘Contradictions’

Pioneering transgender Republican wages war against LGBT discrimination in her party

Jennifer C. Williams of Trenton, New Jersey, speaks to the media about transgender issues at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Maryland, February 24, 2017. (MIKE THEILER/AFP/Getty Images)

The first openly transgender delegate to attend the Republican National Convention is working to persuade her party to support transgender equality, even as her party, and president, continues to pass laws targeting LGBT individuals.

Jennifer Williams, the chairperson of the Trenton Republican Committee in New Jersey, told Samantha Allen in an interview for The Daily Beast that she doesn’t perceive any inherent “contradictions” in being transgender and Republican, but acknowledged that her party is behind the times on LGBT rights. Recalling her first time attending CPAC since having transitioned, Williams said she had to endure both nerves and adversity, but that the experience also taught her how important it was for her fellow Republicans to interact with people like herself. Many Republicans, she points out, aren’t actually used to talking and interacting with transgender individuals — transgender people make up about 0.6 percent of the U.S. population, and of that small group only an estimated two percent are Republican. So when trying to convince her fellow Republicans to not discriminate against LGBT individuals, Williams explained, she avoids questions of gender identity — which her party, unfortunately, largely dismisses as nonsense — in favor of a practical appeal to the party’s pro-business and small government values.

“The more you discriminate, or the more you want to have the conditions to discriminate, the more likely you’re going to increase the chance of a transgender person — of anyone in the LGBT community — to have to rely on public assistance, and to not be able to fend for themselves,” Williams said. Last year, according to Freedom For All Americans, Williams became the first openly transgender municipal chairperson for the Republican Party when she was voted into the position by the Trenton Republican Committee.

Many young Republicans, Williams points out, are in favor of LGBT rights. And measures such as President Trump’s order to ban most transgender troops from the military and the “bathroom bills” being passed by GOP-controlled governments across the country, she says, are encouraging more and more Republicans to openly condemn discrimination and push for change in the party.

Speaking to Allen, Williams elaborated further on why she wants to see more transgender Republicans become active in politics — as well as why she hopes that the religious right’s grip on her party may finally begin to relax.

Read the full story at The Daily Beast.

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