COMMENT: Things We Have Learned thanks to Caitlyn Jenner
When Caitlyn Jenner made her first appearance at the beginning of June, the world suddenly became acutely more aware of the T letter of LGBT. Her 8 part documentary series is due to be aired in America in July, and hopefully this will be totally different from the rather shallow and vacuous TV show that Caitlyn used to be part of. But what has this meant for what is usually the fringe part of the community and for the rest of us.
You can be trans at any age. Caitlyn transitioned at 65-years-old, claiming she had felt female since she was a child, but afraid to do anything about it other than an occasional private moment of trying to find her real self. She felt for a very long time she was living a lie as her former identity, Bruce. But we are more aware of younger children expressing their transgender feelings, with a young trans girl expressing her feelings to transgender Orange is the New Black star Laverne Cox. However the average age that a full transition of male to female to be complete is around 25. With about 90% of trans male to female having completed the transition by the age of 30. Female to male transition can be slightly older, usually around mid thirties or later. But now such a high profile celebrity has transitioned, will there be a more concerted effort to provide understanding and help for children and older trans with their transition?
Anyone can be trans.
In her former identity of Bruce, Caitlyn was considered a manly man, an Olympic medal winner. One of the most successful American Olympians, with 3 wives and 6 children along the way. In the 70s and 80s, she was in a lot of advertisements with a lot of commercial sponsors. But for a while she faded a little from the spotlight, until she exploded back into public consciousness in the mid 2000s after the E! Show Keeping Up With The Kardashians started airing. Throughout her run on the show, she was generally seen as the slightly cuckold husband of the family “momager” Kris. It was at this time that her feelings were becoming too much to hide and on a few occasions she was found out by her extended family, and by 2013 rumours were becoming persistent that Bruce was transitioning, due to facial surgery and eventually a tracheal shave in 2014.
The correct pronouns to use.
I have constantly referred to Caitlyn as her or she because that is how she wishes to be viewed. She now identifies as female and she only be referred to in female pronouns. Also when referring to her former identity, of either her or any trans person, then one should only use the name in the context of “formally known as” or “born as” and never to refer to them by that name any more.
Trans is not a sexual orientation, nor is it drag.
Being transgender doesn’t mean gay or lesbian. It goes far deeper with a feeling of being trapped in the wrong body. Caitlyn, when she was Bruce was very much a heterosexual male and during her interview with Diane Sawyer, she still maintained her heterosexuality and the fact she was attracted to females. But now she’s gone through the identity change, does this make her a lesbian? This is a difficult one to pin down because it varies on who you ask as to whether trans women who are attracted to women are lesbians or not. Because being trans is more about what gender you identify with than who you are attracted to, and people find it difficult to understand how the sexual orientation figures into things. Trans people have had what would be seen as heterosexual relationships with MtF and FtM transgenders having relationships with cis (biologically born) men and women My advice would be to think, if it doesn’t affect you, then don’t worry about it.
Transgender still has a long way to go for acceptance.
As wonderful as it is that someone so high profile has gone through the transition, it also revealed the ugly side of the struggle for trans individuals to be accepted. Various media outlets mocked Caitlyn, referring to her in male pronouns and using her former name. Even people who outwardly supported her would make snide comments about her struggles before the transition telling her to “be a better dad to his wayward youngest child”
Jokes at Caitlyn’s expense have also been taken a little far.
I’m all for nothing being sacred when it comes to comedy, but some of the remarks have been nasty, rather than humourous.
But you can still be successful.
Take Laverne Cox, Chaz Bono, Andreja Pejić and Lana Wachowski to name just a few of the trans people who have forged successful careers for themselves despite obvious opposition. And with Caitlyn’s docu-series coming up, there are also talks of a stint on Dancing With The Stars and becoming a panalist on The View. Hopefully now the tides are beginning to turn, and transgender people will simply be a natural part of our world.
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Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, its management or editorial teams. If you'd like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.