#CallMeCaitlyn has gone absolutely viral.
But for 65 years, it was ‘Call me Bruce’ – Bruce Jenner, who at one point was recognized as the greatest athlete of all time. The ultimate manly man of all men.
In Jenner’s April interview with Diane Sawyer, Bruce opened up about his struggle conforming to societal male standards. He’s spoken of his athletic career as an Olympic athlete and how he masked his inner struggle with his drive to be the best. And the best he was.
The second I saw the interview, I fell in love with his self-assurance, his humor, and his vulnerability. And since then, I’ve been Bruce Jenner, and now Caitlyn Jenner‘s, biggest supporter.
Many have commented on how Caitlyn looks like she is “slaying for the gods” on her cover of Vanity Fair, and at first my reaction was very similar. She is beautiful – absolutely drop dead gorgeous – and there is no denying that. But as I refreshed my Twitter feed and the image of Caitlyn continuously resurfaced, something about it almost made me feel sad. And here’s why.
For her entire life, Caitlyn felt trapped in a body that simply wasn’t hers. She spent over sixty years doing everything in her power to conceal who she was. In an attempt to prove herself as a man, she trained every day, putting herself through extreme emotional and physical pain to become the man she thought she was supposed to be. Bruce Jenner was more a man than anyone else on the planet, many would have argued. And yet, Bruce Jenner didn’t really exist. It was Caitlyn all along. And after sixty plus years of struggle, it seemed now Caitlyn would finally take precedence.
What’s troubling to me is that Vanity Fair‘s cover photo of Caitlyn is not exactly a realistic portrayal of a 65-year-old woman. Yes, Caitlyn looks amazing, but since when did the focus shift off her empowering message and onto her physical attributes? I have never seen a 65-year-old who looks anything like Caitlyn Jenner, which makes me wonder… will Caitlyn bend over backwards to be the ultimate female, just as Bruce did to be the ultimate male? Will she now spend the rest of her life striving to be the most beautiful woman on the planet? It seems like Caitlyn is already experiencing similar pressures to be the best, and to prove herself to the public.
But the truth is, women Caitlyn’s age do not look like she does, nor do most members of the trans community as a whole. Most trans folk do not have the same privileges that Caitlyn has.
Star of Orange Is the New Black, Laverne Cox, spoke to Rolling Stone about Caitlyn’s new look, reminding fans of the ongoing fight for trans rights. She admires Caitlyn’s vulnerability, but is also aware that her physical beauty seems to have taken precedence over her courageousness and bravery. Cox, who stared as a cover model for Time, was flattered at first when people called her “drop dead gorgeous,” but also noted that the compliment was rooted in societal standards of “real” beauty. She feels that these standards do not reflect the majority of transgender people, and that in fact, many trans folk feel no desire to conform to them at all. She says we should “celebrate all those things that make trans folks uniquely trans,” and I agree.
While we all revel in Caitlyn’s new look, let’s not lose sight of the real issue here. We should support Caitlyn of course, but even more so, we should fight for the rights of all transgender people. The right to be who you are and look however you want, without being criticized or constantly critiqued. Caitlyn may be beautiful, but it’s her message that has the power to make a change.
SOURCE: Rolling Stone | PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY