Hatin’ on Caitlyn
© 2015 by Dallas Denny
Source: Denny, Dallas. (2015, 5 June). Hatin’ on Caitlyn. Chrysalis Quarterly, 2(1).
Hatin’ On Caitlyn
Over on FaceBook trans* people are trashing Caitlyn Jenner. Not everyone is, of course, but more than you might think, considering the positive way most of America is handling her transition. Just yesterday I saw her reviled by trans* people for, among other things, her fame, her wealth and its associated privilege, her whiteness, her television shows, her political affiliation, her relationship with her family, her late transition, her attractiveness, and her high femme presentation in Annie Leibovitz’ photo spread in Vanity Fair. Some of those seated most securely on the bandwagon deny they are hating on Caitlyn, but of course they are.
There’s legitimate concern that newly-out Caitlyn will pull a Zoey Tur (i.e. spout transphobic nonsense). I think that unlikely, but Caitlyn has a powerful media presence and she could potentially do a lot of damage. Many are offended by Caitlyn’s having been called a role model for the transgender community by Rachel Maddow and others. Many are offended because Caitlyn had the clout to land a two-hour-long interview on national television with Diane Sawyer and the cover of Vanity Fair. Some are offended because she has declared herself a Republican. Some resent her because she’s not CeCe McDonald or Sylvia Rivera or any of the other tens of thousands of us and they fear attention paid to her will reduce attention to the plight of trans* people of color and those of us in reduced financial circumstances (it does to some extent, but mostly most of us were already being ignored). Some say it’s unfortunate Caitlyn played pretty and passable in Vanity Fair and consider that antifeminist. But for many, I am sure, it’s just sour damn grapes.
Everybody’s arc through life is different, and in some ways Caitlyn’s is far removed from most of us. We are not Olympic Decathalon winners, we’ve not had our photo on Wheaties boxes, and we’ve not had a long-running reality show on television. We’re not famous. On the other hand, Caitlyn has lived and overcome the fear, shame, and self-doubt felt by most of us. Eventually, like many of us, she transcended all that and, in the face of a ravenous and opportunistic media, transitioned gender roles. Many of us with far less at risk never get that far.
So yes, Caitlyn Jenner is my hero in way all trans* people are my heroes. When you’re trans*, just getting up in the morning can be damn difficult. I empathize with her struggles and applaud her for getting so far. In that she’s no different from any of the rest of us. I applaud all of us, even the ones currently hating on Caitlyn.