When Caitlyn Jenner made her debut to the world, it was celebrated as a huge moment for the transgender population and a boon for equality. With a highly publicized TV special and a cover story in Vanity Fair magazine, Jenner helped increase visibility for the transgender community.
But despite the success of Jenner’s transformation and the overwhelming positivity she has received on the internet, some say there’s still a long way to go to ensure transgender respect and equality in the world.
The problem, according to Kris Hayasji, executive director of the Transgender Law Center, is that due to Jenner’s status as a celebrity, her experience will be vastly different than that of most people.
“Any time someone is able to live fully and safely as their authentic self, it is a beautiful thing that we should celebrate. We can celebrate, though, while recognizing that Caitlyn’s experience is dramatically different from that of most transgender people.”
The National LGBTQ Task Force shared that transgender people are more likely to be unemployed and live in poverty than the general population, and the problems only magnify for transgender black and Latina women. So, while Jenner’s status as a celebrity will help bring the community into the spotlight, she doesn’t represent the population as a whole.
Recently on the Daily Show, host Jon Stewart brought to light another problem. Caitlyn Jenner instantly not only gained a lot of attention and fans for her bravery, but is already being accepted and treated like a woman. He didn’t mean it in a good way, however, as he was quick to point out that people are already judging her based on her looks, whether she is more attractive than the Karashian sisters, how good she looks for her age, and so on. He was making the point that despite many people being happy for her, she’s already discovering some of the problems millions of American women face every day.
“It’s really heartening to see that everyone is willing to not only accept Caitlyn Jenner as a woman, but to waste no time in treating her like a woman.”
Caitlyn Jenner’s popularity and influence (her Twitter account broke a Guiness World Record for the fastest to 1 million followers) could be a positive for the transgender community, but as Lourdes Ashley Hunter, national director of the Trans Women of Color Collective says, there’s still a long way to go before true acceptance and equality is found.
“Caitlyn’s coming out is relatable to mainstream American society because she is white, Republican, rich and famous. Her celebrity status is great for visibility, but it can and will be used as a distraction from the lived experiences of trans folk who continue to battle discrimination when accessing basic needs such as housing, employment, education and health care.”
[Image via EOnline]