“Bruce … always had to tell a lie.” These words jumped off the screen yesterday as I read the Buzzfeed article documenting Vanity Fair’s introduction of Caitlyn Jenner to the world ( Article Here ). After decades of living with an identity not her own, this courageous woman has emerged from the shadows to live as the vibrant and beautiful person she is. The public response to this has been swift and positive. Everywhere I look, I see affirmation and support for Caitlyn, to the point where it almost drowns out the haters … almost.
Of the arguments being used, I’m most annoyed by the ones attacking her position of privilege. Yes, Caitlyn Jenner is a caucasian woman worth an estimated $100 million. Yes, she has the resources for surgery and treatments, resources most Trans people do not have. Yes, she is famous for her past achievements as an olympian, and made more so by her famous Kardashian stepdaughters. Yes, it’s fair to recognize these things … but NO, none of this makes her any less courageous or deserving of respect. This woman has an unbelievable platform from which to spread awareness, and while many celebrities use their platforms for purely selfish means, Caitlyn Jenner is using hers to speak truth to the world. She has come out on a massive scale, and has opened herself up not just to adulation, but also to ridicule, attack, scorn, and hatred. Rich or not, famous or not, what she has done is courageous. It matters. People like Caitlyn Jenner, Laverne Cox, Carmen Carrera, Genna Talackova, and others are needed to bring Trans issues into the mainstream. Acceptance and equality for Trans people will never be achieved through any other means than mainstream exposure.
Society is speaking up. Within hours of coming out, Caitlyn’s new Twitter account expanded to a million followers. Laverne Cox offered her support, writing “yes, Caitlyn looks amazing and is beautiful but what I think is most beautiful about her is her heart and soul, the ways she has allowed the world into her vulnerabilities … Her courage to move past denial into her truth so publicly. These things are beyond beautiful to me.” The world is speaking up in support, and you know what? That means people are talking about it.
The evangelical sites and pages I read regularly are also talking about it. The discussions on those forums are not so supportive, but the discussion is starting. It’s going to result in many of them wanting to know more, and that’s when people seek information outside of their own circles. That’s where learning starts.
The haters can have their say, but I see no downside to this. Caitlyn’s coming out transcends socio-economic status, and it transcends race. What a wonderful thing to share with the world. What a wonderful thing for the Trans community, a community that is so under-represented in mainstream media and pop culture. What a great catalyst for discussion. The outpouring of support for this woman shows us that the tides are shifting. This isn’t just about Caitlyn Jenner. This is about all Trans people. This is culture. This is part of the fight for rights and equality. More discussion means more knowledge, and more knowledge affects not just pop culture and mainstream media, but also government, business, and educational institutions.
Welcome Caitlyn, and thank you.