Caitlyn Jenner brings transgender woman to the cover of Vanity Fair
Caitlyn Jenner

Caitlyn Jenner

Dear Readers,

Unless you’ve been living in a cave this last week you would have heard of Caitlyn Jenner’s big reveal on the cover of Vanity Fair to a whirlwind of press. Formerly known as Bruce Jenner, Olympic Gold Medalist and TV Star, Caitlyn revealed her name and her true feminine body for the first time. The Guardian calls her “life affirming, provocative and downright fabulous“, and many other news outlets have followed suit with praise for her courage and beauty. Yet in the last week we have have learned a lot about ourselves and about being a woman in the world today. So, just what have we learned?

The Transgender Community is (more) Broadly Accepted (than we used to be)

Not a day went by when I didn’t hear a positive story on the news, or a positive comment from friends outside of the transgender community. Caitlyn’s coming out has given many in our community a way to explain what they are feeling – her eloquence in her interview has given many words, and her beauty and poise has allowed others to share their hopes for their feminine self more completely. This has inspired a wave of transgender women in various stages of transition creating their own Vanity Fair covers you can find more covers on the myvanityfaircover Tumblr, or make your own.

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Not Every Trans Person has the Same Privileges as Caitlyn (and not every trans person aspires to cisnormative standards)

Laverne Cox, a transgender actress who stars in Orange is the New Black was on the cover of Time magazine last year, and had some moving words to share about Caitlyn’s cover. In particular this sentiment touched me, “Now, there are many trans folks because of genetics and/or lack of material access who will never be able to embody these standards. More importantly many trans folks don’t want to embody them and we shouldn’t have to to be seen as ourselves and respected as ourselves. It is important to note that these standards are also informed by race, class and ability among other intersections.”

Woman are Judged Differently than Men

Jon Stewart on Caitlyn Jenner

Jon Stewart on Caitlyn Jenner

Jon Stewart shared some insightful words when discussing Caitlyn Jenner, in particular regarding comments that overwhelmingly reference her appearance: “Caitlyn, when you were a man, we could talk about your athleticism, your business acumen,” Stewart said. “But now you’re a woman, which means your looks are really the only thing we care about.” A few days ago I wrote about being a woman, and how much harder it can be. Being judged primarily on your appearance and not your abilities is something that every woman has experienced, and the difference is never quite so start as when you first step foot into a woman’s shoes.

We Still Have More Work to Do

Amidst the plethora of positive and affirming comments there were still noisy clangs of hate and bigotry. I’m not going to link to any of them, since I’m against spreading vileness and spite. Yet even though there are still those who haven’t yet accepted the transgender community, my soul brims with hope. The overwhelming majority of coverage I saw was positive. There were even moments when others came to understand our struggle as a viral Facebook post on True Bravery took an Ironic Twist – what started out as minimizing Caitlyn’s courage ended up affirming the struggle we all go through.

Caitlyn, you are beautiful, but more than beautiful you are courageous. Thank you!

What Has Caitlyn’s Coming Out Meant To You?

Please take a moment to share your thoughts and comments below. What has her coming out meant to you? How has this changed your outlook on life, your plans for tomorrow or your thinking for today?

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Dedicated to creating a safe, supportive and welcoming environment for everyone in the transgender community.
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20 Comments
  1. AWESOME CAT 4 years ago

    [Ed: Warning, the linked website contains anti-transgender sentiment. In the interest of open discussion I am leaving this comment up]

    Bruce Jenner’s “coming out” has presented the reality of autogynephilia as the main motivator of male transgenderism to a global audience of billions. Now everyone is beginning to understand male transgenderism a lot better.

    • seleenak 4 years ago

      I wish I shared your positive feelings. But to me, having Ms Jenner teach the world about transgenderism is like having a Kardashian teach the world about womanhood. 🙂

      • Author
        Vanessa Law 4 years ago

        Hehe, I love that analogy Seleena. What I find heartening is that there are so many different expressions of being transgender by famous people – from Laverne Cox to Caitlyn Jenner. It paints a tapestry far beyond the narrow ‘sexual deviant’ role that was ascribed to transgender people just a decade ago.

    • Author
      Vanessa Law 4 years ago

      Just a quick warning to future readers, autogynephillia is a distinctly anti-transgender sentiment. You can find a more balanced description of autogynephillia here if you’re interested.

      In the interest of open discussion I am going to leave ‘Awesome Cat’s comment up. It does not represent my views, or the views of many in the transgender community.

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