The Internet was almost broken when Bruce Jenner left his old self behind and emerged as the graceful Caitlyn Jenner on the cover of Vanity Fair. The world went into mild shock, quickly recovering to either offer words of encouragement and support or to denounce her to hell and beyond. This was not an incident where there were many fence sitters. Even the most un-opinionated offered some kind of reaction.
We’re so used to seeing Bruce as the big, fit athlete, kinda hovering around the Kardashians – watching as he slowly transformed. We there when the media got mean and made fun of his ‘feminine features’, the hurt that that must have caused. And we’re here now when she decided to make her formal debut – on the cover of Vanity Fair no less.
We’re here to cheer her on, to say, “Yes! Be your fabulous authentic self!”
We know that it couldn’t have been easy for her to come out like this. It isn’t easy for any of the trans people come out. Which is why I’m here to remind you that while it took a lot of courage for Caitlyn to come out, not everyone can do it with such fanfare and get to grace the cover of Vanity Fair, after being shot by Annie Leibovitz – this isn’t the norm for all trans people.
In fact, Laverne Cox, another trans trailblazer who graced the cover of Time magazine in 2014, had these words of encouragement and clarity to share on her tumblr:
“Yes, Caitlyn looks amazing and is beautiful but what I think is most beautiful about her is her heart and soul, the ways she has allowed the world into her vulnerabilities. […] Most trans folks don’t have the privileges Caitlyn and I have now have. It is those trans folks we must continue to lift up, get them access to healthcare, jobs, housing, safe streets, safe schools and homes for our young people.”
Yes, Caitlyn, it has only just begun. Like it or not, as one of the most famous trans women – especially on Twitter (where she must have broken some kind of record for getting over 1 million followers in under four hours), you’re not only an inspiration to many, but you’re also their hope.
As Cox says: “Now, there are many trans folks because of genetics and/or lack of material access who will never be able to embody these standards [cisnormative beauty standards]. More importantly many trans folks don’t want to embody them and we shouldn’t have to be seen as ourselves and respected as ourselves.”
Jenner now has that responsibility of making sure that she doesn’t quickly succumb to what would be considered cisnormative beauty standards. Already even with just one Vanity Fair cover, she’s being compared to Jessica Lange, seen only through the lens of whether she is ‘fuckable’ or not and thought of as not bad – for her age. All things that come within the territory of being a woman no doubt, but something that she is going to have to fight against – I hope – so that she can be seen as more than just how she looks. For herself and for all other trans people. Welcome Caitlyn!