Trans Identities: Caitlyn Jenner Is Not The Sole Definition Of Beautiful
Within seconds of her Vanity Fairy cover hitting the Internet, Caitlyn Jenner’s stunning photographs were shared, retweeted, praised and, of course, criticized.
And, while the transphobic masses will always have their negative, narrow-minded viewpoints, the majority of the forward-thinking world had one resounding reaction to Caitlyn’s pictures: She’s gorgeous.
And, while it is amazing she looks so flawless, fierce and confident, I couldn’t help but feel a tinge of apprehension as I stared at her pictures over and over again.
I feel so happy for her, yet so worried for others.
Caitlyn’s journey has been covered in-depth and been overwhelmingly public, starting the conversation of gender identity and transgender rights all over the country.
I’m not sure we can put a price on that, and it’s impossible to quantify how many lives Caitlyn has potentially altered, or even saved.
At the same time, society tends to fixate on one, and only one, way of doing something (or, you know, anything), and I’m afraid many trans women will see Caitlyn Jenner’s journey and consider it the end-all, be-all of trans existence.
My fear was validated only seconds later, when I received a text message from a trans woman and dear friend of mine.
She sent me screenshots of Caitlyn in a red hot car and even hotter red dress, and said,
“If this is how Jenner looks, I have work to do.”
It’s important not to take anything away from Caitlyn and the work she’s done to get to where she is today.
But, it is also important to remember beauty doesn’t legitimize individuality.
It’s important to remember Caitlyn’s transition doesn’t have to be yours for yours to matter.
It’s important to remind our transgender friends and family members that “flawlessness” doesn’t mean “acceptance,” and “conventionality” doesn’t mean “happiness.”
Caitlyn Jenner has, arguably, a limitless amount of money.
While she has endured a hardship I couldn’t fathom, in hiding who she is for her entire life, we must also draw attention to the privileges she has that allow her to be who she is today.
There are countless transgender men and women all over the world who are lost in a depression and hopelessness because they can’t afford the hormones or surgeries that would help them look the way they feel.
They'll wish for a new nose, cheeks, chin or anything that would make them feel more confident, safe and secure when they walk down the street or buy groceries at the supermarket.
They don't have the luxury of hiding out until they have fully transitioned because they have to work five days a week to afford rent and pay bills.
They endure strangers staring at them, knowing their gender is being questioned by someone who feels they have the right to know, because their insurance doesn't cover certain procedures.
They don't get to share their stories on national television from the comfort of their homes, surrounded by supportive family members; they don't get to reveal their true selves by being photographed by Annie Leibovitz.
Is Caitlyn Jenner's beauty worthy of praise? Of course. The beauty of every woman is something to celebrate, as is her bravery and compassion and endurance.
So, while we spend today, and I'm sure days to come, praising Caitlyn for being exactly who she is, let us remind ourselves and everyone else that there is more than one way of doing something.
And, if you're a transgender woman who saw those pictures and felt the very real, sinking feeling of inadequacy, please remember that, as you are now or as you will be, there's only one word to describe you: gorgeous.
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