So, as many of you most likely know, Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair cover was just recently released, prompting a whole flood of news stories on both Caitlyn Jenner and transgender issues in general. Overall, I’ve been pretty pleased with the media coverage that I’ve been seeing. It’s a huge step in the right direction.
What I have not been pleased with are the reactions of some people I am friends with on Facebook (mainly people I don’t associate with a lot but go to school with). See, it’s weird. I haven’t really encountered much outright transphobia… but I’ve found a lot of this weird, passive-aggressive shit that I can’t really come up with another word for. It’s a lot of “Bruce Jenner is being applauded for bravery, but what about this other ACTUAL hero??? (insert picture of firefighter/police officer/someone in the military here)” This is bothersome to me on many levels. First of all, people are refusing to use her preferred name and pronouns which, if you’re creating something to be passed around on Facebook, is asinine and you should know better. And I get that some people accidentally mess up names and pronouns, and I’m not talking about that. I’m not even talking about the people who might just be a bit confused and inexperienced in dealing with transgender issues and might not understand how hurtful it is to call someone by the wrong name or the wrong pronoun. I’m talking about the people who think that using the wrong name and pronouns somehow adds to their argument or criticism of Caitlyn Jenner. It doesn’t. Let me direct my thoughts to these people now.
It doesn’t help your argument one bit. In fact, it makes your argument weaker, because as soon as I see that you have misgendered her, I am automatically biased against your opinion, even if there is some tiny shred of truth in the point that you are trying to make.
And I think (or at least I hope) that the point you are trying to make is that sometimes we forget about everyday heroes. And you know what? That message is fine. I would be fine with just that. But instead, somehow, seeing Caitlyn Jenner on the cover of Vanity Fair has filled you with rage because for some reason you think she doesn’t deserve it, and someone else deserves it more. I would like to point out that I have never heard you comment on how Miley Cyrus was on the Vanity Fair cover, or any other celebrity really. And if you just think veterans haven’t gotten enough attention in the media, WHY NOT JUST SAY THAT??? You don’t need to drag Caitlyn Jenner into it.
And if you’re in the camp of “well, it’s just for attention. She didn’t really do anything”. Well for the first part, no. Why anyone would put themselves out there as transgender and face all of the shit that we face (bullying, media scrutiny, violence, higher rates of suicide, shortened life span due to violence and suicide, sexual harassment, housing and workplace discrimination, trying to find a goddamn bathroom that we won’t be thrown out of, etc.) if they weren’t going through the pain of gender dysphoria is a total mystery to me.
And the second part of that statement, about her not doing anything, is also rather silly. It kind of goes hand in hand with the “well she didn’t do anything really brave” argument. Uh, she kinda did. She’s probably the most famous transgender person in America at the moment. She just exposed her vulnerabilities to the world. She’s letting us see her true self, and that can be petty damn scary, let me tell you. So no, it’s maybe not the same kind of bravery you’re used to. You’re used to the kind where you do the right thing in spite of the risks to yourself, like what firefighters and policemen do. So let me ask you this: when you come across that Facebook post, and you feel that pressure to share it, what’s causing that? A fear that if you don’t share it, someone’s going to think you’re – gasp – endorsing transgender equality? Oh no! Click share!
…But if you think about it, the brave thing to do would be to scroll right past it and move on with your life if you’re not into supporting Caitlyn Jenner. Because that’s the right thing to do. If you don’t like it, fine! No one’s forcing you! But it’s a little sad that you have to keep reminding us all that you don’t like it. It’s a little weird.
At least to me, Caitlyn Jenner is a hero. She’s doing what many of us aren’t in the position to do, which is publicly talking about the issues that affect transgender people and trying to use her influence to make things better. She’s opening herself up so that people can learn to accept others for who they are, and that’s a beautiful thing. I’ve known people who are so afraid to come out, and so convinced that the world will never accept them for who they are, that they are suicidal, and I think that having transgender people in the public eye in a positive way will help to alleviate some of the fear they experience. So yeah. While I have never been a huge fan of the Kardashians in any way, I am very happy about Caitlyn Jenner, and I can’t wait to see what she’ll do next.
So, here’s hoping I will learn to avoid going on Facebook whenever transgender people are in the news from now on.