Caitlyn Jenner: More damage inflicted on the transgender community

Update: Caitlyn Jenner has issued an apology for her “man in a dress comment.”

Listen up, everybody: “If you look like a man in a dress, it makes people uncomfortable,” and you are not a good image or role model for the transgender community. You need to be “authentic,” see . . .

You need to look like Caitlyn Jenner, see, or at least the way she sees herself, i.e. glamor girl (never mind that some in the conservative right-wing world in the U.S. still consider her to be a man in a dress — see Breitbart — and will never, ever accept trans people no matter how they look).

Sigh . . . I refer you to an excellent article by Alex Rees in Cosmopolitan, from which I gleaned this latest info attributed to the transgender demolition derby that is Caitlyn Jenner. Apparently, Jenner gave an interview to Time magazine  in which, Alex says, she expressed some transphobic stereotypes.

Right-wingers in the U.S. must be rubbing their hands in glee: Jenner may be doing more damage to the transgender community than they could ever do. Surely they see her as a conservative operative working undercover, a champion of their transphobia and right-wing propaganda, a gift from their Almighty exclusionary supernatural being.

But what about all the people who’ve hopped on board the Jenner bandwagon? Are they so blinded by the Hollywood glamor that they can’t see the damage being done to the trans community? Why do they stay on board that bandwagon?

And it’s not just the trans community that is being belittled here: what about “biological” women who don’t look so hot in a dress and are  making the people Jenner reportedly  refers to uncomfortable (i.e. right-wing patriarchs who haven’t evolved from the 1950s yet)? How many feminists puked when they read those misogynistic comments about how appearance authenticates womanhood (yes, I am puking now)?

I could go on and on here. I could rant all day. But Alex’s article says it all.

But I want to add this: it is time for organizations like GLAAD and others — i.e. media — to make it clear to the world that Caitlyn Jenner is not a spokesperson for the greater transgender community, and to stop portraying her as one.

And it’s time for Caitlyn and the media to consider the consequences of their words: how many people today have a more negative view of not-so-glamorous transgender women because of what Caitlyn said and because Time editors chose to print those words? How many think it is OK to feel uncomfortable when a not-so-glamorous transgender woman is around them? How many will take that to mean they can belittle those not-so-glamorous transgender women, laugh at them, bully them, beat them up, even kill them? How many will look at not-so-glamorous “biological” women the same way?

Indeed, how many people’s minds have been infected by the statements Time chose to print? And how many will see them as the shallow comments that they are, and will remember the following lesson from grade school:

Moral 101 of the story: Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, and it is far more than skin-deep. This is elementary school stuff. Most people don’t give a damn how you look. They care about what they see in your eyes, what they feel from your heart and what they hear from your mind. They care about the selfless love you give to the world (re: see The Beatles).

So, dear trans sisters out there, don’t let Caitlyn Jenner’s shallow, self-absorbed words get you down. I know many of you, and you are beautiful souls. Be yourselves, and present yourselves in any way that makes you feel comfortable, just like everyone else does. That’s the great thing about living in 2015 vs. living in 1952: you can pretty much dress any way you like — in the West, at least.

— Jillian Page

Related link:

Transgender people may be at greater risk in wake of Caitlyn Jenner’s comments about men in dresses

Many still see Caitlyn Jenner a “a man in a dress”

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10 thoughts on “Caitlyn Jenner: More damage inflicted on the transgender community”

  1. I’m torn on this one.

    I read the original TIME interview and while Caitlyn Jenner said things I disagree with, it was always phrased as “I do this” or “It’s important for me to do the other”, not “Transgender people in general” should do this.

    She’s right when she says “If you look like a man in a dress, it makes people uncomfortable.” That’s just a fact, not a judgement on the person wearing the dress. Instead, it’s a judgement on society for being uncomfortable by that.

    Caitlyn wants to present as a glamour girl. That’s her choice and I don’t see any words from her saying that everyone else should do that. It’s not my thing, but if it makes her happy, fine.

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    1. I disagree. It is a judgment: she is speaking for other people, for society when, in fact, society has dealt just fine with all manner of people in dresses, be they slim, fat, beautiful or ugly or anything in-between. Her statement about society is her opinion, but she should not assume everyone feels that way. It is an unwise transphobic stereotype, as Alex points out. I give the majority in society the benefit of the doubt: they accept people for who they are, not based on appearance.

      P.S. She said trans people need to look “authentic.”

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      1. — She said trans people need to look “authentic.”

        I read the TIME interview. I can’t find anywhere where she actually said that. The closest quote I can find is this:

        ” I think it’s much easier for a trans woman or a trans man who authentically kind of looks and plays the role.”

        I don’t really think that’s a controversial statement. It’s a sad fact that trans people who “pass” *do* have an easier time of it.

        I think some people are looking for points in anything Caitlyn Jenner says. (And hey, it could be that I’m too naive and cutting her too much slack.)

        I think we just need to let her live her life as she sees fit. I don’t see her telling us what to do in that interview; I really don’t. She’s just musing about how she approaches being trans.

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        1. Yes, she is entitled to her opinions. But if she is going to pass herself off as a spokesperson for the transgender community, she needs to watch what she says.

          Your statement about people who pass plays right into the attitude of Don Plett and right-wingers who spread propaganda about men in dresses in the women’s washrooms.

          Caitlyn and others seem to be suggesting that only people who pass, or essentially are not recognized as trans women, should have validity, and that others who don’t pass so well should be worried about making people feel uncomfortable, as Caitlyn indicated she was worried about.

          Trans people do not have to appease anyone. They owe no apologies for their appearance, no matter how they look. They should be free to live their lives, and they don’t need trans people like Caitlyn making it anymore difficult for them.

          And where do you draw the line on who is passable and who isn’t, anyway? Who gets to make that decision? Caitlyn? You?

          I guarantee you that no matter how beautiful and “passable” one may be, if word gets out that she is trans, people will look for “male characteristics” in her and point them out. Indeed, read articles about Caitlyn and you will find comments from readers saying she looks like “a dude” despite all the work she has had done.

          There is no such thing as “passable” to people who don’t accept transgender people. It is a mistake to attempt to “play the roles” to try to win their acceptance.

          Real trans people do not play roles. They present themselves in the ways they feel comfortable. To suggest they do anything less is transphobic discrimination.

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          1. I’m not saying that it is a good thing or that it’s fair that more passable trans people have an easier time. It isn’t! But at the same time, there’s no point in denying the reality because if you deny reality, you can’t work to fix it.

            Your last paragraph is totally on the mark. And I think we should apply those sentiments to everyone, including Caitlyn Jenner who happens to like presenting glamorously.

            I honestly think the reaction of parts of the trans community to Jenner is as damaging as Jenner is; we should just say “OK, if that’s what you like, good luck and glad you’ve found a way to be comfortable in your skin.”

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      1. The truth is, Joanna, many people feel uncomfortable around trans women no matter how the trans women look. In fact, it can be worse for a trans woman who “passes” or looks fantastic: many men get very upset when they discover the woman they’ve been eyeing used to be “a dude.” They have been known to beat up the trans woman or even kill them, as happened recently in Manila.

        Jenner seems to be seeking to empower herself by putting other trans people down.

        Do you think that she is setting a bar, that trans women who don’t look beautiful in a dress shouldn’t be wearing dresses?

        Alex’s column wasn’t taken out of context, in my opinion. His points are very valid. Jenner reinforced transphobic stereotypes and set transgenderism back by decades. Any trans person who now ventures out in a dress and doesn’t look like some sort of glamor girl may now find herself an object of open ridicule by people who read the Time magazine article.

        Indeed, trans women should be more afraid now than ever before, because Jenner has more or less told society it is Ok to feel uncomfortable around them.

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  2. Moral 101 of the story: Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, and it is far more than skin-deep. This is elementary school stuff. Most people don’t give a damn how you look. They care about what they see in your eyes, what they feel from your heart and what they hear from your mind. They care about the selfless love you give to the world (re: see The Beatles).

    The above is the only part of the article writer’s RANT that is worth printing. And what credentials does she have to be so NEGATIVE. Caitlyn is still giving us a platform of visibility, seems you are either jealous or [Perish the thought] you lack confidence in yourself. If you live by the above statement Caitlyn is just another Trans Lady living her life with her Knowledge. We all have a lot to learn from each other. Think it was PT Barnum that said “Don’t care what they say about me so long as the name is spelled correctly”. Look how many elected officials that are elected and yet the dish out Pure BS. Give her a break.

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    1. Your visibility, in her eyes, is only good if you look “authentic.” If you don’t, then you are hurting the trans community. If you feel that is a good message to send out to the world, it is your privilege. But the vast majority of people are not glamor girls. Caitlyn Jenner does not set the standard for the trans community.

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