by David Watkins
Posted In: LGBT
at 08:43 AM | Permalink
Local LGBTQ+ news and views
knows me is quick to call me out as a Kardashian fanatic. I grew up with them
through religiously watching Keeping Up
With The Kardashians. My specific fascination and adoration for Kim
Kardashian West is ridiculous to most people, but I cannot help it! She is
everything to me. Naturally, I jumped for joy Sunday night after she announced her second pregnancy. I could not wait to
see what the rest of the world would say the next day – jokes about naming the
baby South West, people on social media asking why anyone cares about Kim — you
know, the usual. But I did not see much about baby No. 2 because not many
cared — *heart breaks* — after
another family member basically broke the Internet.
first day of Pride Month and a little over a
year after Laverne Cox’s iconic Time cover, Caitlyn
Jenner, formerly known as Bruce, graced the cover of Vanity Fair Monday. The headline
read “#CallMeCaitlyn” — pretty simple, right? Well, you would think so. Either
people still do not understand hashtags, or they were too busy obsessing over
her beauty and similarity to Jessica Lange — which is a whole other
conversation. Nevertheless, with the headline/hashtag combination, she is
asking people — on and off social media — to call her Caitlyn. Nothing else,
only Caitlyn. It’s she — not he, not “she” — she. It’s not “his new name” or “his new identity” — it’s her. Caitlyn
is her truth. It is who she has always been.
would an announcement from one of the most controversial public figures on 2015
be without exactly that — controversy. This week has already brought a
multitude of headlines and opinions as people continue to react to Caitlyn’s photoshoot.
By the end of the week, I am sure I could write a dissertation or short novel
on everything. For your sake, I will just dissect the reoccurring reactions and
controversies I have encountered on social media, and I will relate them to how
you should treat Jenner. When speaking about Caitlyn:
Do NOT call her anything other than
If you are
speaking to an individual who is not up to par on Caitlyn’s public journey and
you are trying to explain, say “Caitlyn Jenner, formerly known as Bruce
Jenner…” Remember that by the end of the conversation, the individual should
understand that her name is Caitlyn.
Do NOT use the pronouns he, him and his
when speaking about Caitlyn. She identifies as a transgender woman and prefers the pronouns
she, her and hers.
If you mess
up in the beginning, it is OK. While they yearn for people to use their
preferred pronouns, most trans* individuals understand that it might take time
to break an old habit. If you realize you accidentally used incorrect pronouns,
either correct it immediately or make a point to use the correct pronouns next
time. Trans* folks will see you are trying. The effort makes a difference.
Do NOT compare her beauty to the
beauty of other women.
I have seen
countless memes and posts about her being prettier
than Kris Jenner and that Kris must be mad Caitlyn did not start her name with
the letter “K.” I understand how things like this might seem funny — especially
with how the media paints Kris’ reputation, lifestyle and alleged opinions —
but it’s not funny. In The Bruce
Jenner Interview with Diane Sawyer and Keeping
Up With the Kardashians: All About Bruce, Caitlyn has expressed her
continued love and respect for Kris during this time, acknowledging that
families of transgender individuals sometimes need time to process. Despite your
opinions about Kris, Caitlyn, the whole family or transgender people in
general, let the Vanity Fair cover be
a catalyst for us to stop pitting women against each other.
speak more about this later, but let’s remember that Caitlyn’s photoshoot
displays more than just physical beauty. She is beautiful, but that cannot be the only thing we get out of this Vanity Fair issue. In a reaction post on her official Tumblr, actress and
activist Laverne Cox said, “What I
think is most beautiful about her is her heart and soul, the ways she has
allowed the world into her vulnerabilities. The love and devotion she has for
her family and that they have for her. Her courage to move past denial into her
truth so publicly. These things are beyond beautiful to me.”
Do NOT be disrespectful or
headlines are about public figures and people on Twitter who refuse to
acknowledge Caitlyn’s womanhood, journey and personal requests.
· Fox News and other media outlets mocked and misgendered her.
· Republican presidential candidate
Mike Huckabee refuses to support not only Caitlyn,
but the whole trans* community. The former Arkansas Governor said trans* folks
and the idea of trans*-related legislation was a threat to society, especially for
children in a bathroom setting. Oddly enough, he came
out in support of Josh Duggar — who admitted to
molesting four of his sisters and a babysitter — but he won’t support
Caitlyn or trans* folks in the name of protecting children and family values.
· I am not going to pretend to know a
multitude about sports. The only time I pay attention to the EPSY Awards is to
see how athletes dress for a red carpet. Athletes and their communities are
incredibly talented, but it is just not my thing. I do not know enough about
the other qualified sports stars to have a legitimate opinion on whether or not
Caitlyn should win the Arthur Ashe Courage Award,
but I do know the backlash Jenner is receiving is disgusting. Tweet! Voice your
opinion! Root for your favorite athlete! But do not try to delegitimize an
individual’s hero status or level of courage if it is well earned. In regard
to Jenner and the trans* community, it is transphobic and disrespectful.
Comparing an inspirational transgender person to an inspirational soldier and
an inspirational young girl who passed away too soon is like comparing apples,
oranges and bananas. But all three are courageous and serve as inspirational
figures to a handful of people — the athletes, not fruit. You can disagree
without wishing ill will and voice your opinions without disregarding someone’s
experience. Bravery and courage exist in all forms.
Now that we
cleared that up, I am returning to society’s concept of beauty in relation to
transgender folks. Wendy Williams is not a stranger to backlash and criticism,
especially for her opinions about Caitlyn Jenner over the past year. On
Tuesday, she spoke about the Vanity Fair cover and Caitlyn’s transition. She occasionally
misgendered Caitlyn in the beginning, but corrected herself, which was
progress. What stood out to me were Williams’ expectations and demands for
Caitlyn’s life now that she is out to the public. Not only did she give Kris
Jenner permission to eternally resent Caitlyn, but Wendy refused to accept
Caitlyn’s womanhood and name if Caitlyn did not physically live up to
cisnormative standards of beauty and society’s traditional female stereotypes. “A
lot of men try to transition, and a lot of you [transgender women] … No bueno,
no bueno, OK?” she said. Williams acknowledged Caitlyn’s beauty, but said, “I
don’t want to see no man,” in the future and later said, “I just want the weave
to stay in.”
Williams was joking or not, the studio audience laughed because they understood
and believed what she was talking about. Her show is successful because she is
relatable and her loyal fan base can identify with her. Her opinions often
reflect a generation or handful of people’s views. Her expectations for Caitlyn
to always “pass” or undetectably embody a stereotypical woman all the time is
problematic because it positions cisgender people as the standard for beauty.
It should not be she’s beautiful for a
transgender person. There should not be a different standard of beauty for
trans folks. It’s look at her, she’s
beautiful, but incorporating Laverne
Cox’s point that her bravery, heart and
spirit are even more beautiful.
And while Caitlyn
Jenner has stunning features, she comes from so much privilege. Not all
transgender individuals can afford cosmetic surgery, designer clothes and time
away from work. Even less trans folks get paid to come out and share their
story — like probably less than two percent, if that. This does not mean
Caitlyn deserves less sympathy or respect because she has more privilege than
others; she identified her privilege briefly in the Diane Sawyer interview —
it just means she is a rare example of what being transgender looks like — again,
an extremely rare example. LGBTQ+ people can still get fired for being queer in
32 states, trans* individuals do not always receive the same healthcare benefits
and some financially and emotionally struggle for their necessities.
Jenner will save numerous lives from suicide and will encourage people of all
ages to come out as transgender — she already has. Let us support her as she
uses this new-found platform to make a difference, but remember every transgender
experience is different. We must also realize that not all trans people live up
to cisnormative standards and not all folks want to. As I reflect on everything
I have read this week alongside my idea of beauty and longtime adoration for
Kim Kardashian West that I mentioned before, I realize that beauty is
subjective. Kim K. might be one of the most beautiful women in the world in my
eyes, but she and others do not represent what it means to be beautiful. Like
courage and bravery, beauty exists in countless forms. I also realize that
every person’s experience is their own journey and story to tell. We need to
Jenner’s issue of Vanity Fair is
available in stores now. Her new documentary series I Am Cait premieres Sunday, July
26 at 9 p.m. on E!
confused about all of this queer terminology? That’s OK! Take some time to learn
more at http://www.glaad.org/reference/transgender.
0 Comments · Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Why are Hollywood glamour photographs on
display at the Taft Museum of Art? FotoFocus isn’t reason enough; the
Taft likes to establish a tie between the renowned permanent collection
and temporary exhibitions. So what is Myrna Loy doing here?