I recently wrote this for Thought Catalog. I also want to share it here:
Speaking out for the first time since completing gender transition, Caitlyn Jenner just recently graced the cover of Vanity Fair to talk about her coming out and to also talk about transgender issues. Her event spread throughout the Internet, and even broke twitter for a four hours as she amassed an overwhelmingly amount of support! It was beautiful. It is beautiful.
I’m going to start by saying that I’m proud of Caitlyn Jenner for going public and for bringing these issues out in the open. And, most of all, I’m proud to see that millions of people are supporting her in any affirming way that they can. There is just this one thing that has been knocking on my head right now.
I cannot shake it off and I think it’s something people need to consider when looking at Caitlyn Jenner. Here we go…
I think privilege played a big role to what she was able to do…
She had the money to complete her gender transition. She also has the visual (celebrity) and social platforms to come out through outlets that will support her. She has a caring family, and she has a particular skin color that caters to our current mainstream target demographic. It is this same skin color that makes it easier for the public to accept and empathize with her decision, as she seems more subconsciously (racially) relatable.
There are many out there who are not in her position. They do not have the support of loved ones. They do not have the skin color to seem relatable as they’re not only fighting against the harm for being transgender, but also fighting harm for being a person of color. They do not have bodyguards to push away assailants. Basically, they do not have this privilege to come out in a matter that she was able.
If you don’t think privilege, like having bodyguards, matter; you should know that there are a lot of violent acts that happen to the LGBTQ community on a daily basis. For example, there are people like Penny Proud, Yazmin Vash Payne, Ty Underwood, Lamia Beard, Taja DeJesus, and Lamar Edwards, who were all transgender residents (of color) in various places in America – who were all murdered earlier this year.
This is just a few of many.
[Before we continue… I understand this isn’t my place as I’m a straight male who is still learning about this issue. I’m a neophyte or, as some people may say, an ignorant fool who has made plenty of mistakes talking about these issues. However, thanks to Caitlyn I’ve been reading up on every single thing I can. Watching her interview with Diane Sawyer, reading works from the likes of Laverne Cox & Janet Mock has helped me grow and I must continue to educate myself if I want to be a stronger advocate in the future…]
I’m going to make it clear that we should not (nor ever) take away Caitlyn’s personal struggles she has to endure her entire life. We shouldn’t take away the understanding of the consistent hate speech and attempts of violence she will have to face (against ignorant bigots) in the future. And, I’m not comparing Caitlyn’s struggles with others, as this is not Oppression Olympics where people get gold medals because they had it worst. This is not the reason why I’m writing this article.
I’m writing this article because I feel that transgender struggles have always been there. But it seems people don’t take notice until someone of privilege goes through these struggles. This means that though Caitlyn has made it look easy, because of the world in which we live in, we must remind ourselves that others have so much more to lose if they come out like Caitlyn.
Therefore, because of this, Caitlyn has a big responsibility to fill…
Caitlyn is brave. Caitlyn is beautiful. Caitlyn is amazing that she brought transgender awareness to the forefront of our attention due to the publicity her family generates. I just hope, with all my might and prayer, that she uses her privilege to be a microphone for those who also need and want a platform to be heard.