First, I want to welcome Caitlyn to her authentic life. I am happy for her, and I wish her nothing but the best. That being said, I’ve got some issues with this whole thing.
Issue Number 1: Caitlyn has made a spectacle of her transition. From the rumours that started in tabloid journalism, to the blatant lies about her tracheal shave, she has either attempted to bury her identity or to use it to line her own pockets. This is morally reprehensible.
In the age where representation matters, Caitlyn owes far more to the community holding her up as a role model than she does to her own pocket. We get that she is excited about her journey- and we are excited with her- but the conversations occurring in our society regarding transgender issues has only been harmed by the “Look at Bruce! Look at Caitlyn!” circus she has perpetrated.
Caitlyn has an Opportunity to do Truly Great Things. The question many of us in the Community are asking tonight is this: Will she? Or will Miley Cyrus end up doing more to benefit the community than someone with so public a spotlight?
Issue Number 2: Caitlyn has yet to recognize the astronomical amounts of privilege she currently had in her life, has as she transitions, and will continue to have as a C-grade celebrity married to someone whose claim to fame is giving birth to Kim Kardashian.
Caitlyn’s privilege allowed her to dictate the terms of her transition. This is not true for many of us. Our terms are set by our families, our employers, our real-world solutions- and we certainly don’t have gender therapists who will come to our house and console us. From this article in the Daily Mail, quote: “But after calling a counselor from the Los Angeles Gender Center, who made a house call to Jenner’s Malibu home…”
The vast majority of the transgender community does not have access to such positive and affirming services. We don’t have access to on-call therapists, Annie Leibowitz photo shoots, magazine and television exclusives, and the level of cash it takes to pay out-of-pocket for the things she has done with ease. In fact, the transgender community has an unemployment rate of 14% to the larger society’s 7% (as of 2013), an underemployment rate 44%, and the highest suicide attempt rate of any marginalized group at 41+%. This says nothing of the violence perpetrated against our transgender sisters of colour, which is absolutely ludicrous.
Where is Caitlyn’s voice on these issues? Where is her partnership with the real leaders of our movement towards equality: Laverne Cox, Janet Mock, Carmen Carrera, Geena Rocero, and Julia Serano? Will we get to see Caitlyn join hands with Lana Wachowski and open a network of homeless trans youth shelters across the nation? I’m not holding my breath.
Issue number 3: Her abysmal political beliefs.
Raise your hands if you knew of Caitlyn Jenner’s politics prior to today. Uh-huh. Caitlyn’s politics are well documented as a “Reagan Republican”, and even won the acclaim of Grover-fucking-Norquist just a few weeks ago:
I spoke with Bruce Jenner at a Hollywood “Friends of Abe” dinner. He is a solid Reagan Republican. Good on taxes. Leave him alone. — Grover Norquist (@GroverNorquist) April 27, 2015
With that being said, will we get to hear Caitlyn’s voice in opposition to the bathroom bills being proposed by the members of her political affliation? Or will she remain silent, choosing to protect her financial interests above those of her community?
Issue number 4: The focus on the transition narrative.
Look, those of us in the community get it. People outside the community find transition to be a source of endless amusement. We don’t.
Every time you focus on the narrative of transition, you erase those of us that are in the closet, those of us who are non-transition, those of us who are non-binary, and those of us who have already completed our transitions. This is a very dehumanizing action, and by ignoring the work we do every day, our daily existence and struggle to survive is trivialized as a human interest story on the evening news.
Stop doing that. Now.
Issue number 5: Surgical Fixation.
Every time you ask a trans person if “they’ve had the surgery”, God kills a kitten.
Every time you ask a trans person if “they are becoming a [xx]”, God resurrects that kitten only to kill it again, this time making an eight year old watch.
What surgeries, if any, a trans person decides to undertake is an intensely private decision and not appropriate for public consumption. I can assure you that the only people who need to know what is in a transperson’s underwear are the person themselves, their medical doctors, and their intimate partner(s).
We get that you are curious. Some of us are okay with openly discussing it- but please, for the love of kittens everywhere, do not assume it is your business to know, nor that every trans person will discuss it with you.
Epilogue: I have a lot of feels on the subject of Caitlyn Jenner, and I haven’t quite sorted through them all yet. Please, do not bring me into conversations regarding Caitlyn as “your trans friend”. Do not tag me in conversations about Caitlyn so I can see how much you support us- trust me, I already know. If you didn’t, we wouldn’t be friends.
We’re human, and we’re complex, and we’re all individuals just trying to get by. Some of us owe more to the Community because of what we have available, and the sooner we can reach a just and equitable societal status the happier this gal will be.
In the interim, please follow Wil’s Law: Don’t be a dick.