On the surface, it would appear that Caitlyn Jenner’s transition has been relatively smooth-sailing up to now. The public have really taken to her, she’s received a massive amount of support from celebrities, and to top it off she looks better than Kris Jenner (which I’m sure is an added bonus for her!). But all is not as it seems for poor Caitlyn. In this week’s episode of her E! docu-series ‘I Am Cait’, Jenner was introduced to several transgender women who are very active in the LGBT community. And although they expressed happiness for her and her new life, they were also very critical. LGBT Activist Jennifer Boylan is quick to remind her that being a woman is ‘not just about wearing dresses’, and some of the other women think she is out of touch with the trans community because of her ‘privilege and power’.
While I was watching this, I became very angry with these women and the pressure they were putting on her. At the time of filming this, Caitlyn had only been a woman for two weeks. TWO WEEKS! Let her enjoy her new-found freedom for a minute before making everything so serious. Let the woman try on pretty dresses for goodness sake! After a lifetime of secrets, shame and depression, she is entitled to it. It’s wonderful to see her having a bit of fun and talking about shopping. It’s not all she’s going to do, and thankfully it’s not the main focus of this docu-series, but it’s necessary for her on a personal level. Laverne Cox (star of Orange is the New Black) recently said in an interview that because of who she is, there is no way she could ever transition privately. Whether Jenner wanted it or not, everything has been very public. She’s not going to get everything right on the first try, and we wouldn’t want her to. that’s not real. We want to see her journey.
In a world B.C. (Before Caitlyn), the reality is that people either weren’t very interested or didn’t know a lot about the ‘T’ in LGBT. Now it’s a topic that’s open for discussion. If you ask Siri about Bruce Jenner she corrects you and takes you to Caitlyn’s Wikipedia page. (Pronouns are important!) I myself had to do a bit more research to write about this subject, because I wanted to use the correct terms. So it just goes to show, it is slowly being introduced into people’s ideology. I understand where the women were coming from. It’s taken this long for someone to really make an impact on the public, and they want people to know as much as possible. I think they were also being a bit defensive, having dealt with discrimination and being misunderstood their whole lives, it’s easy to see where that comes from, that need to protect themselves. But they can’t put it all on Caitlyn’s shoulders. They are right in teaching and guiding her, but so far, I found the pile-on approach counter-productive. The episode ended with a cliffhanger, and I’m hoping that next week we get to see a softer side of these women.
Truth be told, Caitlyn’s transition was unique, and unfortunately, not everyone is so quickly accepted. She needs to understand this, and shine a light on the reality of others if she wants to be a spokesperson, but it needs to come naturally, and with time. You don’t take your final exam on the first day of school. Right now, she needs to learn to walk in heels, before she can run.