By Ken Stone
Gina Roberts of Valley Center joined hundreds of other Republicans in cheering their national chairwoman’s vow Friday to “keep the foot on the gas.”
A sponsored guest at the Republican National Committee’s quarterly meeting, Roberts shared in the thrill of seeing President Trump give a 5-minute video address.
(“I’m sorry that I can’t be there in person,” Trump said in a recorded message shown at the Hotel del Coronado. “Believe me, I’d rather be right now in San Diego.”)
But Roberts was alone in one respect.There was a “pretty good chance” she was the only transgender Republican present. “I haven’t seen any of my LGBT friends” at the RNC’s hourlong General Session, she said.
A skilled shooter who fathered two children, Roberts was the first transgender delegate at February’s California Republican Convention.
It was at that Sacramento meeting that GOP Committeewoman Harmeet Dhillon noted the national party’s Coronado meeting and offered some guest passes, called sponsorships.
“So I emailed her — and I’ve been a Facebook friend of hers for a while,” Roberts told Times of San Diego. “I was thrilled that she allowed me to come.”
Drawn to politics through a passion for gun rights, Roberts returned to the Hotel Del for the second time since Saturday, when she won an MVP award at the local gun owners’ Second Amendment Celebration Dinner.
Roberts first revealed her gender identity five years ago to the Valley Center Kiwanis Club, but didn’t undergo gender affirming surgery until the day before Trump’s inauguration.
Now Roberts shakes her head at accusations she’s an LGBT traitor for backing the president.
“I find the Trump administration to be probably one of the most logically supportive presidencies,” said the 62-year-old San Diego native (born at Balboa Naval Hospital).
“[People say] ‘They’re doing all these horrible things to LGBT people.’ No, they’re not.”The White House reached out to the Log Cabin Republicans — the gay political group for which Roberts is the San Diego chapter’s president — “and asked us to write a white paper concerning the executive order for LGBT people in federal contracting. We came out highly in support of it.”
In fact, Roberts returned from Washington late Wednesday after she and several others in the Transgender Leadership Caucus presented a report to the Department of Education on transgender student safety issues.
“They were extremely receptive and actually … asked some very good questions and asked us to come back with answers to their questions,” she said.
The Log Cabin Republicans are working on re-issuing Title IX guidelines on transgender youth, after Trump rescinded a 2016 order.
“A lot of people took great offense to the onerous shove-it-down-the-throat kind of approach of the original guidelines written by the Obama administration,” said Roberts, also vice chair of the state Log Cabin Republicans.So the obvious question: Ever met Caitlyn Jenner?
Jenner was promoting her new book.
“She actually stopped the reception line so we could talk a little bit,” Roberts said, “because we’re both working on politics. I actually offered to help her do the legwork in some of the stuff she’s trying to do.”
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Contrary to mainstream media, Roberts says she doesn’t view events unfolding at the White House as a crisis — with the commander in chief firing the FBI director and contradicting his own staff on the circumstances.
“I see it as planned. I really think that the whole idea is to keep the media so off balance that they really can’t….,” she said, her thought unfinished.
Trump “moves so fast, the media can’t keep up with it,” she said. “It’s driving them nuts.”
Need more evidence of Trump craftiness? “You gotta remember that this is the guy who got elected with $2.5 billion of free publicity from the mainstream media,” Roberts says.
What about the sacking of FBI chief James Comey?“Six month ago, the Democrats were screaming to fire Comey,” Roberts said. “And now they’re like screaming that he got fired.”
Roberts, who attended Helix High School when she lived in La Mesa, earned a chemistry degree from UC San Diego and worked at General Dynamics Convair during the defense-rich Reagan years.
Having trouble asking “intelligent questions” of the engineers, she got more schooling.
“They loved the fact that they had a manufacturing person that understood composites and metal bonded things,” she said. “And they put me in all sorts of really cool programs.”
In Valley Center, she twice was named honorary mayor of the unincorporated community.
“We’re very honest about our politics in Valley Center,” she said. “You buy votes — you raise money for charity, and that influences the service clubs. … So I won that two years in a row.”
Now a consulting engineer doing new product design, Roberts fights the final fight — the right of LGBT people to be openly Republican.
“There’s actually a fair number of LGBT conservative people that can’t admit they’re LGBT conservative people because they’d get creamed,” she said. “If you have a business in Hillcrest, you’d better be registered as a Democrat because otherwise you’re not going to have any business.”
Roberts declared: “I’ve had numerous people come up to me and kind of whisper in my ear: ‘Gina, I’m not a Democrat. I’m a Republican.’”
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