Gender Bender Jenner Runs Into More Criticism: The Embodiment of Someone Else

First they were calling her Caitlyn, now they're calling her out. In the wake of Caitlyn Jenner's tasteful transformation and recent attention to an additional lawsuit surrounding her involvement in a fatale car accident, the media is spinning out of control and hitting her with serious adulation and criticism. Wealthy enough to handle the backlash and having the backing of ESPN, Caitlyn is set to make an even bigger fortune than Bruce ever did. However, there are a few dead ends when it comes to being a part of the trans narrative.

Is this a publicity stunt on the part of Caitlin Jenner to usurp the Kardashians in television ratings without a thought for the real battle that trans people have to live with on a daily basis? Has Bruce Jenner done all transsexuals a favor coming out as she did?   Some trans persons are generally not happy with what the world constitutes as being a man or a woman what changes is the intimate part of their bodies that’s all, they are still the same people when they wake up from surgery. Having undergone major upheavals to change their sexual orientation.

Julia Serano 2015 in the article Bruce Jenner and the 'trans narrative': it's time for a little bit of Transgender 201 claims that
Many transgender people never transition, or do not identify within the gender binary (ie as either women or men), yet we rarely hear their stories”. And Furthermore, there is far more to our lives than internal struggles with gender dysphoria.

Some transgender people know from a young age that they are living in a body not assigned for them, they feel that they’re wrongly identified.  Large percentages suffer bullying and family rejection. Subsequently they have to come out, have hormone replacement, change the way they dress, go through rigorous psychological therapy and then wonder if they will be able to afford the gender reassignment surgery needed for a full transition, that is if they are fortunate enough to qualify for the surgery. Many have resorted to taking illegal forms of hormone treatments visiting unqualified medics for plastic surgery and not having the adequate medical treatment and aftercare that is needed.   They also have the constant thought of what people are going to think of them.

Statistic show that “46% of trans men and 42% of trans women have attempted suicide at some point in their lives, compared to 4.6 of the general population” (Williams institute and American foundation for suicide prevention 2014)

Once being allowed to transform to the other side of themselves, legal documents have to be changed and this can prove very difficult. Explaining one self to potential employers can be uncomfortable. Trans people are on par with African Americans when it comes to discrimination homelessness unemployment and poverty.

Julia Serano says “We often have trouble obtaining basic legal documents and rights. The fact that we are trans often complicates our experiences during job interviews, in medical settings, or in everyday human interactions. Conservative political forces in several US states have increasingly pushed legislation that would make it either illegal or dangerous for trans people to use public restrooms” Many, including myself, feel that these are our community’s most pressing issues. Yet they get less airtime than the usual Jenner-type exposés.

Trans citizens are not really finding a voice as cases such as Caitlin Jenner along with the Laverne Cox’s and writer Janet Mock come out every so often highlighting the transgender community in the news.

“I wanted to be understood and I hoped to change people’s minds. I still hope to, but I am now in a different social situation. I’ve lived as a woman for well over a decade, yet I still encounter people who think that it’s OK to mis-gender me. (Julia Serano, 2015)
Some of the public have welcomed the out coming of the celebrity Jenner, while others are livid. Jenner being dubbed a hero has arrogated the Arthur Ashe award from Noah Galloway, a war veteran who lost limbs whilst fighting for his country. Will Caitlin have the balls to accept this award?
To be a transgender is no small feat, they are a people that have reached a point in their lives where they have to choose an identity. They are trapped, beaten down and targeted.  Yet they will not conform to the world’s idea of what gender is, or have the idea that how a person is born determines what they really are on the inside. Statistics show that 66% of society knows someone who is transsexual and a higher percentage are favorable in accepting people from the transgender community.

“While I am usually open to answering other people’s respectful questions, I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had people go into “inquisition mode”: asking me highly personal and sometimes inappropriate questions about my childhood, family reactions, sexuality, genitals and surgical history. These are questions straight out of publicized trans narratives, but which no one would ever dare ask of a non-transgender stranger”.  (Julia Serano, 2015)
It is suggested in research that there are 700,000 Transgender people living in the United States of America and even though these statistics may seem impressive there are more than likely a lot more people to add to that number who live secret lives. Being a stigmatised group of individuals Trans people have a really hard time and have a lot of issues to contend with. With the hype of celebrity awareness it may help this once taboo culture. Lets hope that it is more positive and the transgender community can be even more accepted in a world that could never understand but only sympathize with what if feels like to be a girl or boy trapped inside a foreign body.
“I would most certainly encourage the media to cover a broader range of transgender perspectives, and to move beyond the inclination to turn every trans interview into a Transgender”  (Julia Serano, 2015)

Natasha John-Baptiste

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