I Am Cait didn’t deserve the abhor

Caitlyn Jenners reality prove, like its subject, was far away from perfect. But it changed perceptions of trans people forever and advanced our struggle for equal rights

Caitlyn Jenners reality TV show I Am Cait made the chopping block earlier this week. There will be no third season. Social statements about their programming aside, the bottom line for E! must have been that hardly anybody was watching it. After opening with 2.7 million viewers, it dipped as low as 480,000 before the network decided to pull the plug.

As I am trans and very visible, I have countless one-on-one conversations about being transgender, often with strangers. Nobody has ever asked me my take over scenes from I Am Cait, but hundreds have asked: What do “youre thinking about” Caitlyn Jenner?

I think we should thank her. Ms Jenners vast media exposure has pressed a dialogue about gender upon the American public, meaning that millions can no longer claim total ignorance of the issues that affect transgender people. This is a huge benefit for the trans rights cause, even if her tale is not representative of most trans peoples lived experience.

The Jenner effect has given the world an exemplar of a trans individual herself. Tabloid speculation, her Diane Sawyer interview, and most recently the reality prove all cultivated a national curiosity in gender identity. Following her pinup-esque Vanity Fair cover, networks across the country reached out for local trans commentators. I discovered myself visiting Melissa Harris-Perry and Good Day New York to discuss Jenner through my own story.

It was an important opportunity to speak up while the world listened, but in doing so I detected a new talent for speaking, writing and outreach that was marketable. I owe my own advocacy career in no small proportion to Jenner.

A backlash accelerated too. Earlier this year, South Dakota governor Dennis Daugaard prepared to sign a law limiting bathroom use by assigned sexuality. He claimed he had never met a transgender person, and only backed down after that was proven to be a lie. Acting against trans people is getting harder to get away with now at least without huge political cost.

North Carolina surpassed South Dakotas attempt, passing its discriminatory law in a March special session. Companies, major artists and even sports tournaments are pulling their assets from the state, and the federal government has filed suit to challenge the law. Trans people suddenly matter and not just all those people who look like Jenner.

Jenner Caitlyn Jenner accepts the award for outstanding reality program for I Am Cait at the Glaad media awards in April. Photo: Alberto E Rodriguez/ Getty Images for Glaad

Still, Jenners affluence and privilege remain major reservations for the transgender community and our allies. Plenty outright hate her , noting that she can afford fancy apparel and feminizing surgery that are inaccessible to many of us. She will never face eviction, struggle to find jobs or resort to sex work.

The notion we must securely debunks is that luck alone has made her transition easy. Rather than write her off over jealousy, there is a better way for any activist to guide this narrative: privilege does not shield anyone from possibly being trans. Being rich, in fact, can also lock you in.

As a woman of 31 who transitioned between the ages of 25 and 29, I look at 66 -year-old Jenner and wonder whether I could live my life thus far again and half beyond, unable to express my true self. How constricted did she feel, even trapped within a spacious walk-in closet? She helps prove to the world that it is never too early , nor too late , nor too complicated to embracing your gender identity or reinvent yourself in any other way imaginable.

Jenner is a self-made female since her record-setting performance at the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games. Her detractors, LGBT and otherwise, is ready to overlook wealth alone were it not for the crazy things she tells. She identified herself as a Republican to Diane Sawyer and said she didnt quite get same-sex marriage, though she afterwards clarified her commentaries on Ellen.

Face-to-face with the Advocates Dawn Ennis, herself the most experienced openly trans journalist in the industry, she envisioned becoming Ted Cruzs trans ambassador. Yes, that Ted Cruz, the fear-monger who accused a Planned Parenthood shooter of being a transgender leftist activist. If she wants to be his trans whisperer, I say let her try.

One can take a more lenient stance on dingbat misguided statements coming from a person who had genuinely desires to do good than from someone like Donald Trump who induces thinly veiled crackings about assassinating challengers. The Republican require voices like Jenners because she is rich, white, and fits within conservatism in every other ideological way besides how she expresses herself.

We all screw up at first on this journey. As one example, I adored the first out trans female I ever met as an undergrad at Boston University. I was still a deep closeted guy. My friends had come over for a random movie night. When she left for the bathroom, I exposed her status to the others, simply because I could not contain how cool I felt it was. I had zero conception of the rudeness or hurt that comes from outing someone. I learned over time, and Jenner will too.

Perhaps the hardest component to learn or relearn once the adrenaline hurry-up of transition takes over our spirits and fire is that trans is just one facet of identity, and gender similarly the one thing it changes. Id love to see Jenner return to sportscasting, particularly for the Olympic decathlon. Trust the viewing public to rely upon her, or other trans individuals( like me ?), to tell narratives unrelated to gender transition, drawing instead upon our broader life experiences. Then watch the rightwing nuts try to lash out against such coverage, unavoidably drawing in even more intrigue.

Whatever she prefers, the cancellation of I Am Cait is just a small setback within an otherwise triumphant transition tale the first, if not only, transition tale many have ever heard. I can respect why my peers might tell good riddance, but part of me is devastated.

I will never get to be on her indicate. There was that awkward moment at an awards dinner when I stood two feet behind her, hoping shed turn so I could muster the heroism event to introduce myself, and perhaps pitch myself to her. I melted and she never even fliched. Terrible plan.

Caitlyn, you have a standing invitation to join me on my display one day. I have no show yet , nor any clue what form it would take, but I am dreaming merely a little bigger now because of how you challenged us to be our bests. Brava!

This article was amended on 19 August 2016 to clarify that Caitlyn Jenner came out in support of same-sex marriage after initially being unclear on her stance. An earlier version stated that she resisted same-sex wedding.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *