Monday , 20 August 2018

Caitlyn Jenner comes out as a transphobe!

vanityfair
Caitlyn Jenner famously appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine

 

There is a very ugly thing that exists within the transgender community that we don’t talk about much. There are many way to describe it, but perhaps the most descriptive is trans-on-trans transphobia: when one transperson judges or makes comment on another’s identity or appearance in order to denigrate, insult or exclude them. Or when one transperson judges another due to their appearance or gender-expression.

Cosmopolitan has reported that, in an interview with Time Magazine, Caitlyn Jenner said:

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 dressm 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. When I go out, as Kim says, you’ve got to rock it because the paparazzi will be there.

This is trans-on-trans transphobia. No ifs, buts or maybes. It’s transphobia. From one of the most high-profile transpeople in the world no less.

Deconstructing her words, it is immediately apparent that there is a deep insecurity and not a little fear of not being accepted for the woman she is. In Caitlyn’s pampered, privileged life things like money don’t actually matter all that much. Proof absolute that all that wealth and appearance can’t help someone take the emotional and mental steps necessary to a successful and secure-in-ourselves transition any quicker than the rest of us.

Of course, to some, Caitlyn herself looks like a man in a dress. That’s why some bright spark decided to sell Caitlyn Halloween costumes earlier this year. Ones based upon her ‘coming out’ picture in Vanity Fair where the art of cosmetics, plastic surgery and those dressing her was exerted to the full to make her look as feminine as possible as reported by the Huffington Post. You can even buy ‘Pin the hair on Caitlyn‘ party games! (Please don’t! This is transphobia too.) There are people in the world who don’t see Jenner as anything other than a man in a dress. So if she is a distasteful holiday parody, what does that say about the rest of us who don’t have her privileged life?

Of course all transpeople want to dress well. We all want to present ourselves well. It’s just we aren’t all cis-normative like she is. Nor do we all want to say the same things Jenner wants to say – which I think it’s fair to interpret as “I am a person transitioning later in life, but I can still look really good and get to do things like be in glamorous shots on magazine covers.” Some of us just want to live our lives as who we are, away from cameras and glitter.

All of us, all transpeople, every single one of us, want to live without fear of facing transphobia in our lives. Many of us aren’t happy with our appearance. Many of us blame that appearance for why we face transphobia in every single day of our lives. According to the Trans Mental Health Survey (Scottish Transgender Alliance et al. 2012) fully 80% of transgendered people consider suicide. That’s how bad the problem is: bad enough to consider killing ourselves to get away from it.

In her rampant transphobia that she is trumpeting to the world, Caitlyn Jenner is adding to the level of that abuse by buying into the idea that there is some kind of bar that divides transpeople. On one side are the acceptable men and women (presumably like her) who fit neatly into a gender-binary and who’s appearance is completely conventional and indistinguishable from any other person of that gender. On the other are the failures who don’t make the grade and who she claims don’t, ‘…put people at their ease.’. This is gatekeeping, pure and simple. Jenner thinks she has some kind of right to judge who the beautiful people are. I would suggest that, in the words of Marylin Manson, she ‘…can’t smell her own shit on her knees…’.

Caitlyn’s words are transphobia. She is using her privilege and appearance in order to bully an entire community to conform to her ideas of cis-normative gender-transition by broadcasting it from the glossy end of the media.

She just joined the Dark Side. She is encouraging the English-speaking world to judge transgender people based upon their appearance. She is directly and unashamedly hurting her own community by inciting transphobia against it. She is an even worse transphobe than those cis-people who hold prejudice against the transgender community, because she is trans herself.

My message to Caitlyn is take a long, hard look at your naked body in the mirror. Spend some time meditating upon your own insecurities and fears. Think about the hugely negative effect your words will have on people just like you.

Then make a public grovelling apology for your bigotry and a big donation to a transgender support charity that helps the people transphobia harms, and keep your opinions to yourself in the future!

About Johanna-Alice Cooke

Johanna-Alice Cooke
Johanna is a passionate equality and civil-rights activist. An 'out' transwoman, she focuses upon transgender issues from medical provision in the NHS and legislative equality, to fighting society-wide issues such as hate-crime. In her spare time she is working towards qualifying as a clinical-psychologist. A Scot by enthusiatic self-declaration, she's crawled over a lot of the country in a previous life as a geologist and loves knowing why our country looks as beautiful as it does. Currently fostering two cats, Johanna loves felines of all kinds despite being a recovering-carnivore herself.

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13 comments

  1. When I discovered this story earlier and in another place I was tempted to comment, and decided not to.

    I wasn’t surprised or shocked to read her words. The little I know about Ms Jenner easily led me to accept that what I read was an expression of self loathing, and uncertainty about her own worth. I was saddened, not angered. I felt no wish to castigate her on her failure to fully accept her own womanhood.

    Self doubt and rampant egotism are a heady mixture when combined with years of adulation and public celebrity (oh, how I hate that word).

    Just as I wish that “celebrity” alcoholics would avoid public pronouncements around a condition of their own about which their real knowledge is scant despite their own experience, I wish that “celebrity” transwomen would think before making public their dim-witted, and ill considered commentary on their sisters – cis or trans.

    There is nothing Ms Jenner can do. Her fame makes it impossible to go anywhere and not be recognised as a “man in a dress”. Once you throw that phrase at your sisters, Caitlyn, it is out there forever and will forever be attached to yourself.

    Her Ill considered words just add to an already existing problem for those of us who are out and proud. We are required to conform to sexist male stereotypes of womanhood to gain acceptance, just as all women are required to by the media, the trolls, the beasts on the street.

    Congratulations, Ms Jenner, well done! Not only transwomen, but every woman everywhere is insulted. It’s the morning if the sabbath in Presbyterian Scotland, and I’ll suppress my natural instinct to utter a mouthful of profanities.

    A bigoted, self loathing, sexist, self centred, entitled, and egotistical fool for certain. Transphobic? Maybe not by intention, but in effect? Hell, yes!

  2. I don’t disagree at all but I think this is a general, gender/orientation-agnostic, example of the LA/Hollywood wealthy elite culture. If you’d been a long term viewer of shows like Keeping Up With The Kardashians you’d probably be that tiny bit more immune to it. The outside matters more to these people than the inside. It’s just the culture they’re brought up in and possibly, helplessly addicted to. Is this an excuse? No it’s not but it can aid sympathy for their ignorance. It’s easier for us to judge someone from this culture because we’re not of it. 90’s/00’s TV series Sex and the City even depicted it well back in its 3rd season (2000). If Caitlyn was from New York she might not have said this. So I think this is a bigger and wider, recognised, long-term problem than just trans-on-trans transphobia.

  3. I don’t disagree that the comment is transphobic and that there is a segment of trans* society that is authoritarian, conservative and prescriptive about what it means to be a ‘real’ trans woman. However, I’ll quote Cat Fitzgerald on the article…

    “Caitlin Jenner is not exactly a gender abolitionist and also a republican and is not 100% perfectly able to deal with the burden of being taught to hate herself her whole life before suddenly being expected to be perfect in public. She is also subjected to a level of scrutiny of her appearance by the whole world that even those of us who know or remember what it is like to walk down the street and have large numbers of people stare, snigger, point or shout abuse will find hard to imagine. And she has spent a lot of time around cis women who are subject to similar levels of attention.”

    Jenner’s comments are harmful but she is the product of a media machine run by a patriarchy that has a vested interest in promoting a particular conservative image of femininity, one in which there is no place for trans people who do not conform to gender stereotypes.

    Those stereotypes are real and oppressive. I wear my hair long because I don’t want to be called ‘sir’ everywhere I go and I grit my teeth when femme friends tell me how pretty it is as if I’m ‘doing female right’ in some way.

    I think that Jenner should be called out on her remarks, yes, but I think that her transphobia is one that she inherited from mainstream society and it is society’s transphobia which should be fought. She is a symptom, not the disease.

  4. I wonder if they’ll take away her “woman of the year” award.

  5. ChloeAlexa Landry

    Caitlyn is a very ignorant, arrogant and opinionated Transgender illiterate. She really needs to learn what being Transgender really is, and not her damn wine tasting dressing parties, in her TV program. She is being a real dead anchor to the Trans Group’s progress, and without some quick education, She is going to be harmful to all of US, and herself. Wakeup Caitlyn, Please.

  6. It’s clear from the hateful rhetoric of this article that Caitlyn Jenner isn’t the only one who finds it difficult to resist putting down other transwomen. While her words were insensitive and clueless, Jenner’s fear of “looking like a man in a dress” was self-referential rather than an insult directed at others. This article, by contrast, is a vindictive attempt to condemn her as a bigot and a bully, supposedly an indictment of Jenner’s “transphobia”, but actually more of an exercise in class resentment.

    Anyone who’s actually seen Jenner IRL can tell she’s self-concious about things no amount of money or privilege can conceal: she’s over six feet tall, has broad shoulders, and a voice that does not yet sound female. Her paranoia about what other people may think is no delusion, we’ve all felt it and experienced the passive-aggressive slights of those who refuse to accept us as women. The fact is that transwomen are judged mercilesly and respected almost exclusively for how convincingly we embody a conventional female persona. Speaking frankly about this is not “transphobia”, it is a level of realism too fatalistic for those who mistake silence for acceptance.

  7. That’s not transphobia, it’s true. It’s sad, but it’s true. We can’t pretend that everyone accepts all transgender people equally. If you look like the gender you identify as, people take it better. We know that Caitlyn Jenner is ridiculously privileged and says a lot of stupid things, but unfortunately if you look like a man in a dress it does make people uncomfortable.

  8. He is still a man dressed as a woman. Nothing changes that. Just looks better than some is all. Born a man. Thinks like a man….

    • Johanna-Alice Cooke

      I’m sorry Kim, but you are wrong. Caitlyn Jenner is a woman. Period. How she dresses is irrelevant. She’s just not a very inclusive, or tolerant woman.

      A transperson has the absolute right to define their own gender. Questioning that is akin to Caitlyn herself commenting about men in dresses making others uncomfortable. The real question here is to ask what gives anyone the right to judge another’s gender by their appearance.

  9. For me, none of these Jenner exercises of oral flatulence are a surprise, not because she isn’t trans but but because she comes from stardom and is a leaf of the Hollywood “holier than thou” tree. It’s always been about Caitlyn, no matter how much she pretends to care about the rest of us (yes, pretends). She was hoisted on shoulders despite having no victories, catapulted to a world stage she had yet to earn, crowned with the title of “Most Revered” trans person…..all merely for saying “I’m a trans woman.”.

    When she was rewarded the ESPY, I cringed because clearly someone had given her a shortcut to the rewards line. I spoke out not against her trans authenticity but it was very clear, to me, the path and script that had been pre-ordained for her. When she claimed to be a friend of the LGBT enemy camp (Republicans), I knew that my perception was correct. When she blamed trans women for availing themselves of government assistance to survive, my rejection of her as a qualified trans spokesperson was confirmed even more. She keeps pushing a size 12 boot further down the pie hole and further down it will go, sadly until it protrudes from the other end. Sad, because none of us in the trans community nominated a Republican newbie to speak for us…..and it’s showing. She was promoted above everyone else trans by others non-trans, and it’s proving to be a disaster of epic proportions.

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