When Caitlyn Jenner began showing up on my newsfeed after her Vanity Fair cover, I had mixed feelings. Since most of what we see are stories about murders and suicides in our community, it was great to see good news about a fellow trans person,
It was exciting to see the amount of support she received from an incredibly wide audience. Her interview with Diane Sawyer was the most watched Friday night program, excluding sports, since 2003. According to the Williams Institute, only 1 in 10 Americans report knowing someone personally who is transgender.
Yet, I was a bit wary of her being the new face of the trans community, or rather the only face of the trans community. There is no single “trans story.” Every person is different but the reality of many transgender Americans does not align with that of Caitlyn.
“Paying an Unfair Price,” a study of transgender Americans, found that they are nearly four times more likely to live in poverty than cisgender people. According to the study, this difference is even more extreme for trans people of color. In 31 states, it is still legal to be fired for being transgender and 78 percent of transgender employees experience harassment, mistreatment or discrimination on the job. These are extremely importamt issues and urgent to our community.
Luckily, Jenner agrees and is trying to make a difference. In the first episode of her new reality television show, “I am Cait,” airing on the E! network, she said, “I feel tremendous responsibility here because I have a voice. There are so many trans people out there who don’t have a voice,” but she also realizes she can’t speak for them. Jenner has discussed several of these issues on her show and has brought in other trans women to elevate these stories.
Hopefully, she can help convey that trans people just want to live as their authentic selves and not be discriminated for it.
Hopefully her story can open up the way for more representation of transgender people in media.