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Why Caitlyn Jenner is offering to be Ted Cruz's "trans ambassador"

TV personality Caitlyn Jenner attends the 24th Annual Elton John AIDS Foundation's Oscar Viewing Party on February 28, 2016, in West Hollywood, California.
TV personality Caitlyn Jenner attends the 24th Annual Elton John AIDS Foundation's Oscar Viewing Party on February 28, 2016, in West Hollywood, California.
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Caitlyn Jenner likes Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, even though she says he is probably the "worst one" when it comes to trans issues.

"I like Ted Cruz," Jenner said in an interview with the Advocate. "I think he’s very conservative and a great constitutionalist and a very articulate man. 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."

But Jenner, who is possibly the best known trans woman in America, says she has a solution: She will be his "trans ambassador," round up her girls – the trans women on her TV show "I am Cait"– and together they will serve on a hypothetical trans issues board to advise Cruz.

Cruz may need some advice. He opposes LGBTQ issues like same-sex marriage and nondiscrimination laws, but also speculated that perhaps the suspect in the Planned Parenthood shooting was a "transgendered leftist activist" (an allegation that had more to do with errors in public records).

Jenner said she met Cruz once before her transition more than a year ago. She is not wrong that Cruz has had some unfriendly moments toward the trans community in his political career. He called the idea of a federal mandate allowing trans students to go to their gender-confirming bathrooms "lunacy."

"Look, these guys are so nutty that the federal government is going after school districts, trying to force them to let boys shower with little girls," Cruz said in an interview on conservative talk radio. "Now listen: I’m the father of two daughters, and the idea that the federal government is coming in saying that boys, with all the God-given equipment of boys, can be in the shower room with junior high girls — this is lunacy."

According to a 2014 Gallup poll, 63 percent of polled LGBTQ voters leaned Democrat, 15 percent leaned independent and 21 percent conservative — findings consistent with the same poll conducted in 2012.

But while Jenner's support might be surprising for the Republican party, which has historically had difficulty appealing to the LGBTQ community, it is not surprising for Jenner, who has been a lifelong conservative.

Jenner says she gets it: "the Democrats are better at social issues." But as she sees it, the fiscal issues are a social issue for trans people.

"Number 1, if we don’t have a country, we don’t have trans issues," Jenner said in the Advocate interview. "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. Eventually, it’s going to end. And I don’t want to see that. Socialism did not build this country. Capitalism did. Free enterprise. The people built it. And they need to be given the opportunity to build it back up."

This isn't the first time Jenner has expressed this opinion. In her coming out interview with Diane Sawyer last April, Sawyer asked if she cheered on President Barack Obama for being the first president to use the word transgender in his 2015 State of the Union address:

Sawyer: Did you cheer the president?

Jenner: I will certainly give him credit for that. But not to get political, I've just never been a big fan. I'm kind of more on the conservative side.

Sawyer: Are you Republican?

Jenner: Yeah, is that a bad thing? I believe in the Constitution.

Sawyer then asked if Jenner would go to Republican legislators to make a case for trans issues.

"In a heartbeat, why not?" Jenner said. "And I think they'd be very receptive to it."

Correction: A previous version of this article mistakenly said Jenner would involve her daughters in a trans issues board. When Jenner said she would get her "girls" together, she was actually referring to the trans women on her TV show. We regret the error.