Since coming out, Caitlyn Jenner has been praised for her courage and supported by fans and family. She has also been mocked and ridiculed, she’s been made a punchline, and just about every nasty thing imaginable has been said about her. And now, the halloween costume. The Caitlyn Jenner halloween costume, for grown adults (let’s be honest, primarily men) to openly mock her at bars, frat houses, and house parties. The Caitlyn Jenner halloween costume, fit to be worn by transphobic MRA’s alongside their comrades wearing white hoods and “down with feminazi’s” t-shirts. The same kind of people who mocked the murder of Matthew Shepard with a straw effigy on a college homecoming parade float, have sadly decided to turn a beautiful woman into a freak show. True to their immature roots in hateful traditions built on shows like Jerry Springer, Trans people are forever the “freaks,” and what I want to know is … why?
So what is it? Is there a compelling reason to behave this way? Is it “just for fun,” and if so, aren’t there any ways to have fun that don’t require tearing down someone’s identity? What is it about sending the message to Trans kids, that you see them as a joke, that you find particularly appealing? Do you care that your attitude kept me in the closet for decades, and it’s doing the same to countless others? Have you thought about it at all? Is this really you, or are you better than this?
This is not a petty or meaningless thing to be upset about. Even if it gets pulled from every retailer slated to carry it, the Caitlyn Jenner costume is a slap in the face to Trans and gender variant people everywhere. It’s straight-up mockery, and regardless of what happens with it, the damage has already been done – Caitlyn Jenner costumes WILL show up this halloween. Some people just can’t resist the relentless pursuit of dehumanizing LGBTQ+ people.
Now, the company under fire for this is ‘Spirit Halloween,’ who reportedly has a history of producing offensive costumes. Trisha Lombardo, a representative for the company, has been quoted saying “Caitlyn Jenner has proven to be the most important real-life superhero of the year, and Spirit Halloween is proud to carry the costume that celebrates her.” (Source article here) I don’t know about you, but I don’t believe her for a second. The statement is patronizing at best. All that Lombardo has done here is give an excuse to the people who will wear this costume. They will parrot her statement to cover their intent – which is to be the centre of attention in having a laugh at the expense of the Trans community. This is akin to the High School bully who torments and harasses his victim, and then gets all bent out of shape when called on it. I actually had a bully say to me once “what? It’s just a joke. I make fun because I think you’re cool. I actually respect you.” Would you have believed him?
For decades, we’ve seen Trans people presented as “freaks” for our amusement on trashy daytime TV. We’ve been subjected to “he/she,” “tranny,” “she’s really a man,” or “he’s really a woman.” Popular mediums have normalized these things, that’s how bigotry goes unchecked and socially acceptable for so long. Transphobia has always been prevalent, but at least we could find momentary relief by changing the channel. All of a sudden a very famous person comes out as Trans, and unless you live under a rock, paying attention is unavoidable. Everyone loses their minds, and now the mockery we are all too familiar with becomes even more mainstream.
Have we learned nothing from Gwen Araujo or Angie Zapata? How about Leelah Alcorn, or Zander Mahaffey, or the droves of Trans people who have been murdered in 2015 alone? Have we learned nothing from the countless lives that have been lost due to the attitudes of those who will go out this halloween dressed as Caitlyn Jenner? And shame on Trisha Lombardo for trying to claim positive intent. Not that we should expect anything better from a company that routinely sells offensive costumes under the justification of ‘showing respect,’ but a little human decency would be appreciated.
So if you’re thinking of going out as Caitlyn Jenner this halloween, I hope you ask yourself the question I asked earlier. Is this really you, or are you better than this? I hope you decide you’re better. On October 31, 2015, please do the right thing. Enjoy yourself without dehumanizing others.