I wanted to start off my blog with a bang. For a few days, I struggled to find a topic that would be worth discussing. That is, until I remembered that Caitlyn Jenner’s new docu-series ‘I Am Cait’ premiered last night. Say what you will about this quoted ‘royal family,’ but when it comes to the topic to transgender rights, I’m happy to see it getting such a big spotlight.
First, I want to address the argument that Caitlyn’s very public transition is yet another Kardashian ploy. Yes, the launch of this new docu-series is very Kardashian, and it had it moments of shameless plugs (we could have done without Cait’s sister pointing out Kanye’s sneakers), but to see a topic that is still widely misunderstood get this kind of publicity, I think, can only do good. Transgender, as a whole, is something that I personally did not fully understand at first. I didn’t know any transgender men or women growing up. It wasn’t a topic of conversation in my everyday life. For the most part, we are unaware of what a transgender individual goes through, the struggle to decide to make the transition, to discuss how you feel with your family members, and to still have to endure the bullying and criticism of society outside your personal life. It wasn’t until I got older, and started to become more involved in the LGBT community, that I began to understand what it means to be transgender. I may not be transgender, so I cannot speak for the community specifically, but I can support it, and continue to help spread my education on the topic as best I can.
Now the situation is changing, and to have a public figure like Caitlyn Jenner, who has never had an issue being in front of the camera, use her own story to educate and inspire, I think is a wonderful thing. I know that some conversations mentioned that ‘I Am Cait’ would be all makeup and hair, but Caitlyn Jenner dove right into the important things about her transition.
“What I want is to create understanding so the next person doesn’t have to be like me and hide,” Jenner said.
This first episode centered around meeting Caitlyn—the focal point being the first time Cait’s mother came to the house to meet Caitlyn, and discussing how her sister, her children, etc. reacted, supported, and dealt with this transition now that she is public about it. For the most part, the message was very positive. Caitlyn’s mother, while still visually struggling, was still positive. She essentially said it would be an adjustment, but by the end of the episode she said that she was more proud of Caitlyn now than ever before.
A comment here—not all transgender individuals are so lucky. One of their first steps is to explain to their family and friends about their decision, and people are not always as receptive. Like I said before, the topic of transgender is still fairly unknown, and we, as humans, tend to fear what we don’t know, and channel that fear into criticism. Instead, we need to work more to be open to learning about it, and to offer the support your transgender loved ones seek from you. (This is good point to mention John Oliver’s 16-minute monologue about transgender rights. He really got it correct, in my opinion.)
For Caitlyn’s kids, she mentioned that some were still struggling with the new life. I loved it how she mentioned by name Lady Gaga, Elton John, and Miley Cyrus for their public support, not for her sake, but for the sake of her children. However, while all of her children offered support, Caitlyn said that some still hadn’t come to meet her in person. Others, like Kim Kardashian, who Caitlyn said during her first interview with Diane Sawyer was one of her biggest supporters, has visited her regularly since she told her family about her decision. We saw that support again last night, when Kim and Kanye stopped by.
After getting a first glimpse into Cait’s new life, she got to the bigger picture. As a spokesperson for the transgender community, Caitlyn wants to help find a way for the younger generations in the community to find comfort, acceptance, and understanding in the world. Unfortunately, the transgender community faces so much ridicule that it has led to suicide for many, something that should never happen. Caitlyn met with the mother of one individual—a 14 year old—who had killed herself because of the difficulties she had living in society. The scene was one of the more emotional ones of the night because it gave us a glimpse beyond the happy-dappy life that Caitlyn has portrayed in her own story.
I’m interested to see how this docu-series will progress. It’s clear that most of the show will center around Cait, but I hope she continues to shed light on the bigger picture. Right now, understanding transgender rights is at the forefront of discussion. With more pop culture stars, shows, etc. using the topic to educate people, it’s allowing non-transgender people to gain a better understanding and to react with more compassion and grace than in the past. After all, the first thing we have to do is remember that these are people, and they deserve only happiness.