The heart of Caitlyn Jenner

There is a need for a more diverse representation of transgender people in the media.

Contributed Photo
Contributed Photo

After years dealing with gender dysphoria and hormone therapy, former Olympic medalist and reality television celebrity Bruce Jenner told the world he was transitioning to a woman. On an interview with Diane Sawyer, Jenner ended months of speculation from the public. Earlier this month, Jenner debuted her new name and image on the cover of Vanity Fair. This issue featured the story of Bruce as Caitlyn Jenner, her transition process and her life.

Fans embraced the former Olympian’s transition by sharing support messages on social media. On Facebook, Jenner gained over 180,000 followers. On Instagram, over 350,000. On Twitter, she gained 1 million followers in 4 hours, beating President Barack Obama by an hour. Millions of tweets have been posted, including support from the Kardashian-Jenner family, making the hashtag #CallMeCaitlyn popular.

However Jenner’s transition has also received a reasonable amount of criticism. An online petition is calling for Caitlyn Jenner to be stripped of her Olympic gold medal. It claims that Jenner’s victory was a violation of the committee rules of women competing in men’s sports. As a result, this petition started an outrage on social media and supporters of the transition posted their opinions with the hashtag #dontgivebackthegold.

Criticisms have also been made on the manner in which Jenner was re-introduced to the world. Posing in the sorts of clothes her stepdaughter, Kim Kardashian, is likely to be seen in, Jenner received comments about her beauty. This reveals disturbing truths about what is valued and admired in women.

Whereas before Jenner was thought of as a hero for performing greatly in the Olympics and being the voice of reason in the show Keeping up with the Kardashians, she is now referred to by her post-surgery physical characteristics. Does this mean we live in a world which requires women to comply with certain demands in order to be admired in the public eye?

In an interview, Laverne Cox, transgender actress from Orange is the New Black, made an important point. It is true that Jenner’s successful surgery has turned her into an admirable looking woman, but people should focus on her heart rather than her looks.

Her courage to accept her true self and share it publicly is what makes her outstanding. Regardless of her gender, Jenner has always loved and devoted herself to family. This is clearly seen in the show and by the support she has received from her family.

There is an important lesson to be learned from Jenner’s transition.

There is a need for a more diverse representation of transgender people in the media. Though Jenner was able to afford her transition, not all are. Most importantly, not all transgender people receive the amount of support in their transitions as Jenner did. There are still various barriers to social integration in society. There is also still a major need for policies aimed at supporting and protecting the lives and well-being of transgender people. Caitlyn Jenner’s battle may be nearing its end, but for many, it continues.

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