I Am Cait: Falling ratings, criticism by trans activists are no surprise

If a site called Hollywood Gossip is to be believed, the ratings for I Am Cait are tanking and Caitlyn Jenner is upset because she “has been bombarded by harsh comments from outspoken members of the transgender community in recent weeks.”

Hmm . . . Does this surprise anyone (besides Jenner)?

The less-than-stellar TV ratings for I Am Cait was entirely predictable. Indeed, I polled readers here and in my jillianpage.com blog before the series started, and few people said they were planning to watch the series.

Let’s be honest: while transgenderism is a hot media topic these days — especially in the dog days of summer — the vast majority of everyday people are not interested in the subject. Sure, many tuned in to the Diane Sawyer/Bruce Jenner ABC News interview out of curiosity. But they’ve got better things to do on summer Sunday evenings than watch I Am Cait.

As for many in the trans community rejecting I Am Cait — and by extension, Jenner herself — this isn’t a surprise, either. As one reader of the Hollywood Gossip article pointed out in the comments’ section:

Caitlyn we don’t want your help. We want your show cancelled and for you to just live the rest of your life. Leave the community alone. You will never know what it is like to be a young or even middle aged trans woman. Only an elderly one. You can not change that. You can never relate. You will be in your 70’s before you are even used to living as a Trans woman. Your too Elderly and out of touch. Just take your limited time and enjoy what you have left. We just don’t care to have you represent us as powerless to connect as you are. — Kristy Pandora Greczowski

Kristy makes some good points. And nobody elected Caitlyn to be a transgender leader.

Which is not to say Caitlyn isn’t doing any good — she has said in commercials airing on the radio in Montreal that “we are going to do some good.” And she has helped to raise transgender awareness if only by having the media slobber all over her in their efforts to fill space in their publications and airwaves.

But all the publicity by mainstream publications and networks has also stirred up the hornets’ nests of right-wing publications, which now have a “celebrity” to target in their war on transgenderism. And there’s no doubt: The publicity-seeking Caitlyn is making herself a big target.

The biggest reason Caitlyn’s show is tanking, though, may very well be the simple fact it is playing on the E! Network and not on one of the major U.S. networks and one of the major Canadian networks. I couldn’t watch the show even if I wanted to, because my TV service provider doesn’t offer the E! Network.

— Jillian Page, LGBT Perspectives editor


“Let harmlessness be the keynote of your life.” — Alice Bailey


7 thoughts on “I Am Cait: Falling ratings, criticism by trans activists are no surprise”

  1. I just watched the second episode with my spouse a little while ago, and I was favorably impressed. I wish that half the audience did not already surcumb to the One Trans Conversation Quota “rule” and tune-out because this episode had some experienced trans woman saying a lot of important things (and pointing-out that Caitlyn has LOTS of privilege and very little knowledge and experience in her trans life).

    I found myself carrying-on a quiet commentary as I responded to very points and compared them with my own transition and life as a woman.

    Since voice transition was a big topic, AND my voice transition has been a point of contention with my spouse, we found we were able to talk about that in constructive way. Oh, and I was also touched that Caitlyn is painfully aware of her voice and is starting to work on it. She’s only at the very start of this, but I was afraid she was going to throw-up her hands and just live with her voice as-is. (Yes, I *know* this is a deeply personal issue for us: some people don’t want to transition their voices, and that’s their business. I’m just going to say that I am *so relieved* that with Caitlyn so much in the public eye, she wants to do something about her voice. (And most of the other gals had *splendid* voices!))

    Another good thing involved the “road trip” the whole group of (trans) gals and Caitlyn took together to HRC, to meet with and interview some trans women who have had to do survival sex work. The point was to help Caitlyn grow to realize her privilege, but also to help people understand that this “trans thing” is not all fun makeup, heels and dress-up: we’re talking serious lives with serious survival issues here.

    One part of this episode that I found very touching was how Caitlyn couldn’t bring herself to change into a swimsuit with the gals and go swimming or hot-tubbing with them on the trip. The other gals enjoyed themselves with the same glee & gusto of any other gaggle of women ({giggle}). But Caitlyn, is *so early* in her transition, couldn’t bring herself to expose even her swim-suited body to other women, much less trans women – she was intimidated by their experience and their comfort with their bodies. It made me think of how far I’ve come, to where I change in locker rooms, in the nude, arm-to-arm with other women and think nothing of it now (and I’ve only had an orchidectomy).

    Anyway, she has a long way to go…

    Overall, I wish more cis folk could have seen this episode because they would have seen a good bit of our diversity.


  2. The Caitlyn series was a FLUFF program instead of forward information it has taken a Lateral shift into Wine drinking fluff. Keep to a POSITIVE Informative line. A very important thing to Inform the general public of, is to explain to them just how we become TRANS and use the MRI tests and the Dutch Brain studies, to help explain that WE do have actual Female Programed Brains, and it is a Birth anomaly and definetly not a Choice. Much of the ridicule we receive comes from Christians as they are still using Galileo era information with the same results Galileo received. Check out the Popes Encyclical on Climate Change, and as He compares US with Nuclear Weapons. I like the program with and not the FLUFF parts.


  3. The media usually wants someone with “name recognition” whom they can turn to for pronouncements on the state of affairs and right now for trans* issues, that person is unfortunately Caitlyn Jenner


  4. Hi Jill,

    A couple of things …

    Based on some 2014 Nielsen estimates there were approximately 116 million TV households in the U.S. I would assume that the major commercial networks — ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox — reach most of those household one way or another (cable, satellite, over-the-air). According to a couple of sources, E! reached approximately 96 million homes in 2014. That’s not quite in the same league as ABC, but it doesn’t look too shabby to me. I don’t think that that relatively smaller number of households reached by E! is the main reason that I Am Cait is “tanking,” as you put it. I think you got it right — “the vast majority of everyday people are not interested in the subject” (at least not as much as the more successful, long-running KUWTK). Simple. Think Occam’s Razor. At this this point you could put I Am Cait on ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox at the same time and the ratings would not go up … sorta like the next Republican presidential candidates debate. 😉

    As far as being a target for the right wing media, one need not be a Jenner-level “celebrity,” or even a celebrity, to draw their fire. Any trans person (or trans issue, such as military service) is fair game. Right now, wing-nuts and nutty fundies are also zealously going after shows like I Am Jazz and Becoming Us as well. These folks have lost the marriage battle. To keep “the faithful” properly riled up and contributing they’ve amped up fearmongering over “bathroom predators” (and we know who they are) and “religious freedom.” Trans people are a soft target. How many of us are there anyway? We’re the sub 1%.

    And, as far as Jenner’s reaction to all this, I really think she should have learned a life lesson from Gomer Pyle years back … “Surprise, Surprise, Surprise”.



  5. The first show did well in the ratings. It takes a couple days for them to post but you can get reliable information at The Daily Variety (variety.com). I think it was first in it’s category for Sunday cable programming. You can never underestimate the attention span of the American public and Jenner’s second 15 minutes were already on overtime. She’s just not that interesting a person.

    If I were to choose a spokesperson for transgender people it wouldn’t be Caitlyn Jenner but I believe she has had a positive impact on the American public. She drew an audience of Boomers that remember her as a sports hero and Millennials that know her as Kendall’s dad and step-dad to the Kardashian kids. Like them or not they do have an audience. Speaking of the audience, the ratings for the original Kardashian shows were in steep decline and Caitlyn gave them a boost. Television is about money and a few points in share can mean millions of dollars for all concerned. Any effect on opinion is secondary and I Am Cait is an entertainment masquerading as a documentary.

    The show wasn’t made for transgender activists or even transgender people. It’s not a question of getting people think positive things about us, it’s getting them to think about us at all. In that sense it’s been a success.

    I believe transgender people are better off for it but I doubt it’s a game changer. It’s part of what makes 2015 The Year of Transgender Awareness.

    Liked by 1 person

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