Much controversy has surrounded Caitlyn Jenner’s transition. Not one day goes by without the mention of her name in one form or another. Today, it is the debut of I Am Cait, the reality show which reveals personal aspects of Jenner’s journey, other days it may just be the mention of what she is wearing. Regardless of the controversy, she has seemingly found a tender spot in the heart of many Americans.
While the process of accepting a differing gender than what was assigned at birth may take some serious courage, there is still much doubt that this makes one a hero. The bigger question is, “What makes Jenner’s transgender experience is more heroic than others who have done so before her?” She is not the first and definitely not the last, but the world has focused all of its attention on Bruce’s journey into the realization of Caitlyn.
On July 15, the former Olympian became the proud recipient of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. The announcement of the intended recipient caused a great backlash from people who believed there were more deserving candidates than Jenner. The announcement was surrounded by so much criticism that ESPN issued a statement explaining their reason for the chosen honoree.
The 65-year-old’s story is important and deserves to be told. It has shifted the view of gender relations and has forced society to deal with the manner in which the transgender community is treated. Jenner’s public transition is highlighting many of the issues transgender people deal with on a daily basis, both publicly and privately. Although courageous, does it make her a hero?
While many may hail Jenner a hero as she adopts a new way of life, others refuse to buy into the hype. After a series of counseling sessions and other medical treatments, Jenner has emerged with a new identity. The transformation may have been startling, but the decision to make it public should not have been. Cameras have followed the reality TV star for much of her adult life.
Jenner who paled in comparison to the hype of his Kardashian/Jenner children on Keeping Up With the Kardashians is now front and center in his own reality TV show, I Am Cait. This is an eight-part televised documentary about Caitlyn’s gender transition. Although the series speaks to the process of love, acceptance and criticism which the former Olympian has to deal with, it does not adequately represent the transgender community.
As enlightening as the documentary is, complete with Jenner’s internal struggles and personal conflict, it does not represent the average transgender. The transformation of a life which is financially capable of buying a new wardrobe along with other things necessary for a new normal is a far cry from the majority who endure the process of rebranding their life. Jenner is in a different class which, although difficult, makes his adaptation process less problematic. One viewer said:
The fact that Bruce/ Caitlyn is being paid MILLIONS to share this experience… To capitalize on it does not bother people? Bruce is not brave, he is opportunistic.
I Am Cait reveals the birth of a consciousness and is expected to draw high ratings. Jenner has already received a significant amount of attention from the media and the documentary takes viewers deeper into her world. The decision to bring the Kardashians into the series will no doubt draw additional viewers who are interested in witnessing the interaction of the family with Jenner.
The overarching theme of the first episode is one of love and acceptance. In order for this to happen in a life of the “not-so-celebrated” transgender community, people must be open to the transformation process. I Am Cait does a great job revealing that just because a person’s gender expression may change, their fundamental nature does not. The series does well to focus mainly on the life of Jenner, but the question remains, “Is it a true reflection of the transgender community?”
by Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
The Atlantic: The Unbelievable I Am Cait
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Featured Image Courtesy of Vanity Fair