Meet Caitlyn Jenner
On June 1st, Vanity Fair released their new cover featuring Caitlyn Jenner. Formerly known as Bruce Jenner, this marked Caitlyn’s first appearance after feminizing facial surgery and the first time publicly revealing her chosen name.
This cover follows a long story about Caitlyn, beginning with her initial coming out as being transgender. This was followed by the now famous interview with Diane Sawyer, the first time Caitlyn spoke in depth about her identity. These were accompanied by episodes of Keeping Up with the Kardashians as well as comments from her friends and family. This all led up to this Vanity Fair cover in which Jenner proclaims “Call me Caitlyn” for the first time.
The cover created a huge internet frenzy from dozens of different media outlets. Caitlyn created a new Twitter account yesterday, and it became the quickest account to reach one million followers. For the most part, media posts were positive and supportive, congratulating her on her transition and bravery. While there were a few negative comments, they were outshined by the number of encouraging ones.
For herself, Caitlyn’s transition was personal and about being true to herself. But her public transition can be huge for the transgender and queer community. When somebody as loved and popular as Caitlyn comes out, it can help people understand being transgender. It does not change who a person is, but only how they appear on the outside. Her transition could help change the way the public thinks about transgender individuals.
Such a positive look at a transgender person could do wonders for the community. Over 40 percent of transgender people attempt suicide. Over 45 percent suffer from mental illnesses. Seeing people like Caitlyn being accepted could help other transgender people realize that it is possible for them to live as the gender they identify with.
Caitlyn’s acceptance is a huge step in the right direction, but it is not the end. Caitlyn was able to afford to have facial reconstruction surgery to feminize her features, and she also has the means and supplies to transition. Not every transgender person has that opportunity. It is important to encourage and support transgender people who can’t change their appearance, or those who chose not to. It’s necessary to support transgender people who do not look like one gender or the other, or do not fit the normal beauty standards of cisgender people. A person’s identity is not any less valid if they do not look like the gender they identify with. Acceptance needs to be encouraged for all transgender people, not just celebrities or attractive transgender people.
It’s also important to support the transgender people who cannot come out or transition. Some choose not to for personal reasons. But many don’t have the opportunity to because of their environment. Many transgender people, especially teens, live with families who would not accept them if they came out. Many may also live in states and towns where being transgender is not accepted and can put them in danger. One in 12 transgender people are murdered. In order to make a real change, there needs to be movements towards fixing this rate and making life safer for transgender people.
Caitlyn Jenner coming out in public, and the acceptance that followed, is a huge step in the right direction. Ideally her transition will serve as a base for movements for the transgender community. Caitlyn’s bravery can inspire transgender people to be true to themselves, as well as educate the rest of the public on the truth about transgender people. If her identity can be so easily accepted, it is a promising sign that the mindset towards transgender individuals is changing.