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

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

In the interests of objectivity, I do look in on what right-wingers have to say about issues that pop up among more liberal-minded folks, such as the fallout over some of Caitlyn Jenner’s comments in a Time magazine article and Alex Rees’ Cosmopolitan article about them.

A quick refresher: Jenner made some comments about the passing issue that have rankled a lot of people and drawn accusations of “transphobic stereotyping”:

“I think it’s much easier for a trans woman or a trans man who authentically kind of looks and plays the role. So what I call my presentation. I try to take that seriously. I think it puts people at ease. If you’re out there and, to be honest with you, if you look like a man in a dress, it makes people uncomfortable. So the first thing I can do is try to present myself well. I want to dress well. I want to look good.”  — Caitlyn Jenner

As you might expect, right-wingers have taken notice of the whole affair.

Exhibit A: Newsbusters.org, which bills itself as a site “exposing and combating Liberal media bias.” Their headline: Cosmos Complains: Jenner ‘Marginalizing’ Transgenders With ‘Gender-Normative Worldview’

It proceeds to report on the fallout within the trans world over Jenner’s comments, all the while referring to Jenner with male pronouns. The lede of the article pretty much sums it up: “As it turns out, Jenner isn’t all the left hoped for. After months of celebrating Bruce Jenner’s transition to Caitlyn Jenner earlier this year, the liberal media are turning on their former “hero” for not being “transgender” enough. Apparently, Jenner doesn’t say all the “right things” that a true liberal icon should – and so now, the left is eating one of its own.”

No surprise, the writer doesn’t buy Caitlyn’s transition, despite all the surgery Jenner has had to feminize herself in the image with which she feels comfortable.

But as is so often the case with articles whether they are in right-wing or left-wing publications, it’s the reader comments that provide the most illumination and give you a sense of how the general public feels about the issues.

And the Newsbusters article is no exception. Readers point out that transgender people are marginalized, and that Jenner is part of that marginalized group no matter her appearance.  In their view, surgery and hormones do not change the “fact” that she is “a man in a dress.”

Hey, I’m being objective here, reporting on what I have read.

Essentially, the idea that a marginalized person is marginalizing people within her own “fringe” group is hilarious. Actually, they don’t use the word “hilarious.” They use words associated with mental illness . . .

Writes one reader called  

“Transgenders” marginalize themselves by embracing a fringe lifestyle choice and parading their mental illness around. Normal, civilized society, on the other hand, tends to shy away from public embarrassment. If you gravitate towards it, well … expect to be marginalized.

There is no possible way to NOT be on the margins if you insist on carrying on like that. Mainstream society will suppress its discomfort with you out of fear of reprisal, but you’ll never NOT be fringe. You’ll never get more than one percent of the population to become trans, so therefore you’ll never be accepted.

You can say “there’s nothing wrong with a man wearing a dress.” You’re entitled to that opinion. But if you do wear a dress, people’s visceral disgust with you is not going to disappear, it will only remain hidden behind phony small talk and empty platitudes. If you choose to make a spectacle out of yourself in public, most people are going to think you’re a freak. That’s just the way it goes.

What’s the point of “becoming a woman” if you can’t dress like a woman or exhibit recognizable “female traits” in the performance? He should want to look like a butch lesbian or something? He envies stereotypical femininity and wants to appropriate it. Why would he go through all this trouble to look like Sally Kohn?

“There’s a lot of ignorance at best, and prejudice at worst, to unpack here.”

There’s also a lot of jaw-dropping lunacy that a psychiatrist should be unpacking. Go see one soon, and take the rest of the LGBT community with you.

Of course, it is worth remembering now that a lot of these comments come from people who are part of a marginalized group themselves, i.e. fundamentalists who have a somewhat tenuous grip on reality and who are losing more and more credibility every day, to the point that they gain personal empowerment by attacking and oppressing LGBT people.

Still, the reader comments remind us that many, many people do not buy into transgenderism and, as that reader put it, “mainstream society will suppress its discomfort for fear of reprisals.”

In other words, they will be tolerant, but they won’t accept trans people any more than they have to, legally speaking.

So for Ms. Jenner, who is out so publicly, nothing she does will appease those right-wingers. Nothing will make her “passable.” She is still a “man in a dress” as far as they are concerned.

Which brings me back to the whole issue of “passing.”

What does it mean exactly? Well, I think it means that one blends in with all the other women on the planet and that strangers won’t know you are a transitioned woman. They will think you have been a “biological” woman all along, i.e. someone who menstruates. Once/if they learn the truth about your path to womanhood, suddenly they will think they see certain masculine telltale signs they missed before . . . Indeed, you can look at any woman — biological or trans — and see traits that could be construed as male (but I digress).

As for the people who have known you all along, yes, they may love you and show acceptance, but deep, deep, deep down, many of them will always think of you as a man who changed genders rather than what you may feel about yourself: that you were really a woman all along.

That’s reality.

It is important to remember that you do not have to appease anyone. Because you know the old saying: You can’t please everyone. You have to do what is right for you — just like the aforementioned right-wingers who spew their fairytales about God as fact. They need to do that, and society tolerates them, even if many people think they are seriously deluded.

But if you really do care what other people think of your appearance, if it’s going to tear you up inside because somebody smirks when they see you, then maybe you shouldn’t transition at all — because, as mentioned, no matter how beautiful you make yourself, a large segment of the population will not accept you, even if they are polite to you in public.

Caitlyn Jenner deliberately made herself the centre of attention. She chose to be in the limelight. She put herself in the firing line on purpose, and she is laughing all the way to the bank.

But the average trans person who gender transitions just gets on with her life, with only a small number hanging out in LGBT circles and advocating for trans rights and such.

And the aforementioned reader is right: trans people will always be on the fringe, to greater and lesser degrees depending on the country you live in. Whether Caitlyn Jenner is making it easier for trans people in the United States is open to debate: many think she is actually making it more difficult for trans people.

— Jillian Page

Related link:

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

Caitlyn Jenner: More damage inflicted on the transgender community

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2 thoughts on “Many still see Caitlyn Jenner as “a man in a dress””

  1. Jill,

    I can find you dozens of articles with hundreds of hateful comments from newsbusters.org… from 2013, more than 18 months before Caitlyn Jenner even came out.

    For example, at http://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/nathan-roush/2013/06/11/cnns-cooper-interviews-transgendered-ex-seal-warrior-princess someone called “Seashell” wrote the following:

    “That is the thing I don’t understand about transgenderism. Guys can try all they want, but almost all I have ever seen still LOOK LIKE A MAN (walk like a man, talk like a man, probably eat like a man, etc.). No matter how much make-up and surgery they have they still have the characteristics of being the man that they are. Therefore they are very unattractive, unappealing as a women. Yuck.”

    So come on. Newsbusters.org is an extreme right-wing site that spews hatred daily; the fact that it spews hatred after Jenner’s interview was entirely predictable.

    Like

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