Featured in our 5th Annual Faces of Sports Issue!

I was excited to receive an invitation to lunch with Caitlyn Jenner as part of her recently-formed Foundation’s grants to support transgender individuals. Jared Garduno and I met with her just before this issue went to print so information on our interview with her will appear on our blog, CompeteNetwork.com

Although she’s still unpopular among many in the LGBTQ community for her early support for President Trump, Jenner is definitely changing her opinion of Trump’s hollow campaign promise of support for LGBTQ individuals and organizations. She has openly admitted she was wrong and is now taking control of her own efforts to make things better through her recently formed Caitlyn Jenner Foundation.

In an October 25 op-ed for the Washington Post Jenner wrote that “… my outlook has changed significantly from what it was during my highly publicized and glamorized early Caitlyn days, when my life as an out trans woman was just beginning.

“Since then,” she continued, “I have learned and continue to learn about the obstacles our community faces, the politics that surround us and the places my voice can help. I have reflected on what my unique position of privilege means and how I can best use it to make a positive difference.”

With a two-year growth curve as a trans woman forged by a “trial by fire” under her belt, Jenner’s foundation’s mission reflects her personal growth – the realization that if you want to accomplish something specific, you take charge of the change you wish to see.

The foundation’s mission is to promote equality and combat discrimination by providing grants to organizations that empower and improve the lives of transgender people, including youth, anti-bullying, suicide prevention, healthcare, housing, employment, and related programs.”

Since starting her foundation a little over a year ago Jenner is directing its financial support for organizations that are in the trenches addressing the urgent issues of suicide, violence and poverty currently affecting the transgender and gender non-conforming community.

At the top of the list, according to Sophia Hutchins, executive director of the foundations is to establish new programs that target critically under-addressed issues. The goal is to provide programs that lead to self-empowerment in the workplace and financial independence.

Through a two-prong educational approach, the first is a higher education scholarship fund to “break the wealth gap that currently exists between the trans community and non-trans community,” said Hutchins. The second is another education program to provide financial literacy and wealth management. This is intended to end cycles of unstable housing and employment.

When asked about her willingness to continue working on a political front, Jenner recently replied that “We’re going to work with anyone who is in Washington, and on a state level, on equality issues — Democrats, if they’re in power, or Republicans.” She is hoping that the trans community will take a lesson from the gay community’s perseverance and political success in achieving same-sex marriage.

Like many of you, all of us at Compete fully supported Jenner in her coming out process and were quick to expect her to step into the role we envisioned. And some of us were very unhappy when she didn’t fulfill our vision of how she should act and what she should do as a celebrity trans woman.

We have had some spirited discussions about her past actions. However we all believe in the principle of learning from your mistakes and moving forward to make things better. We believe in supporting individuals who are working to end transphobia as well as homophobia, biphobia, racism and sexism. So we are excited to see what our conversation with Caitlyn Jenner might bring.

By Eric Carlyle