Let me set this straight. I’m not claiming to be an expert, or even to know a lot about transgender in general, and about the issues faced by transgender people. I am hoping to be factually correct, however, and in order to do this I have done some research before writing this post, so I’m not coming from a point of view of complete ignorance.
The issue I want to discuss today is that of Caitlyn Jenner.
I don’t have any problem with transgender people. In fact, if that’s who you are, and you’re doing what you need to be happy and content in your own skin, go for it. I’m happy for you. We were all happy for Caitlyn, at first. Recently, however, the media surrounding Jenner has become increasingly frustrating, and also the place of ignorance she seems to be coming at the whole thing from becoming more apparent.
I actually wrote this post a few months ago and decided not to publish it, but changed my mind after watching this week’s episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, in which Caitlyn and Kris met for the first time. Although Kris Jenner has done some questionable things in the past, my sympathy lay with Kris after seeing this interaction. Caitlyn seemed angry with Kris for not reaching out while she was transitioning, but this was after she had completely thrown Kris under the bus in that Vanity Fair article, and spoken out about private things that may or may not have happened in their marriage. It seemed as if Caitlyn thinks she can say what she wants about people and if they get offended she’s allowed to get sensitive and accuse them of being transphobic and not being supportive. Kris hit the nail on the head when she said that its almost as if Caitlyn thinks Bruce said and did those things so it’s ok because Bruce doesn’t exist anymore.
The one thing it is definitely not is ok.
When Caitlyn first transitioned, no one could say anything wrong about her for fear of being shunned on social media, or people angrily correcting others, or getting defensive too easily. I’m now at a point where I’m so frustrated with this culture that’s being created that I feel I need to discuss my opinion on this, no matter what it means, or how “socially incorrect” it is.
The first point about this is the media culture it has created. When Caitlyn, as Bruce, did the Diane Sawyer interview, he said he couldn’t release the name he was using as ‘the time wasn’t right”. Basically, because he wanted to gain as much money as possible out of his name, and had contracted it to Vanity Fair for their cover. When Caitlyn went on the cover of Vanity Fair with the headline “Call Me Caitlyn”, it caused the whole thing to go viral instantly, therefore generating more money than would otherwise have been generated from the whole ordeal.
What really stood out as unacceptable, however, was the recent Ellen interview, in which Caitlyn Jenner stated that she is still a republican, but while she was once against gay marriage, she now “doesn’t feel she can stand in front of someone else’s happiness”. The first thing that comes to mind here is, as someone who always knew she was a woman inside but chose not to come out, how does she feel she has any right at all to judge others who have gone through the experience of coming out and are now living happily as themselves? This is baffling, to be honest. Ellen went on to point out the fact that Caitlyn hadn’t given a straight answer, and still seemed not fully for it, to which she said that her opinion had changed. It seemed as if she was only saying this to prevent herself from getting in trouble and being called a hypocrite, and that she didn’t really believe what she was saying at all.
After this interview, Ellen went on to bring up the whole thing on Howard Stern, to which the general reaction on social media was that she was overreacting. I disagree. Ellen was perfectly right to bring this up, as people need to stop romanticising Caitlyn Jenner. If anything, Ellen was under-reacting. She told Stern that she found the whole thing “confusing” because Jenner “still has a judgement about gay marriage”, but confusing is a word which gives Jenner too much credit. It’s so much more than confusing – it’s offensive. Offensive to the people who genuinely struggle for their rights as LGBT* people for her to say, from her position of power that she should be accepted for who she is but that they shouldn’t. Ellen, as a married member of that community, clearly reacted a lot more calmly and reasonably than she possibly could have in this situation. She was fully right to bring it up, and in her position it would have been more of a problem if she didn’t.
Another problem with the idolisation of Caitlyn Jenner is how it alienates trangender people without access to the best medical treatments, personal stylists, the best designers at their fingertips. The dress everyone was admiring at the 2015 ESPY Awards from Versace was only available to Caitlyn because Kendall Jenner pulled in a personal favour – if we all had this available to us we’d look that amazing too! A bigger problem created by this, however, is friends and families of transgender people with less money are still seeing this version of procedures and expecting the same thing to happen to their loved one, whereas the truth is far from this romanticised version of events. This makes it even harder on each party involved, as the transgender person can’t live up to expectations of the beautiful transition they will go through, and the friends and family are even more confused about the whole thing, and end up hurting the person going through the transition unintentionally as a result of these unrealistic expectations.
Ultimately, Caitlyn Jenner is not a good role model, both for the transgender community and as a person in general. Someone who stands out as a much better transgender role model is Laverne Cox. She is a strong advocate for transgender rights, but fights for every transgender life, not just the privileged 1% who are struggling to accept themselves, but also those in less privileged areas who literally have to fight for their lives every day just to be who they are. Laverne Cox seems to be much more genuine as a woman, and as well as that just an all around better person than Caitlyn Jenner.
All of this being said, there are people out there who still call Caitlyn “Bruce”, or say “he” and think they’re making a huge point because Caitlyn Jenner isn’t a nice person, but this is something which makes the whole argument feel irrelevant and makes the person saying it seem transphobic. It’s far more important to focus on the problematic behaviour of Caitlyn in her day to day life, and the fact that she is a hypocrite at the end of the day. Isn’t pointing out these details much more effective than not recognising her gender? After all, it’s much worse to be a horrible person who throws their family under the bus than to be a man who wants to be recognised as a woman, whatever the reason. Before even being a man or a woman, we’re all people who chose what we say and how we act, and Caitlyn Jenner’s actions and words are far more problematic than her gender.
This is just my opinion, of course. This is a very controversial issue, and everyone has a slightly different opinion on it. I’d love to see what other people think! If you agree or disagree with anything I’ve said, feel free to comment below. As these issues are coming more into the open I think they’re really important to talk about, no matter what your opinion on it is. At the end of the day, we all just need to try to be good, compassionate people before things like gender even come into it.
Until Next Time,
PS – I also find it quite problematic that she gave Kylie a bra with her face all over it. I mean, Caitlyn’s still her dad which makes it even more inappropriate than it would be otherwise. Who would want to wear that?