Caitlyn Jenner’s first 4th of July took on a whole different meaning in regard to independence. Wishing her fellow patriots a “Happy 4th of July,” Jenner also expressed gratitude for living in a place where she was free to finally be Caitlyn instead of Bruce.
Happy 4th of July! Proud to be an American… where at least I am free to be me. pic.twitter.com/MDAPve5B7C
— Caitlyn Jenner (@Caitlyn_Jenner) July 4, 2015
As Bruce, Jenner became the 1970s symbol of patriotism after winning the gold medal in the Olympic decathlon. It was 1976, the bicentennial of America’s freedom from English reign, and Bruce Jenner’s feat was an example of the American triumph of spirit.
Now, as Caitlyn, Jenner has emerged as a new American symbol, not only of acceptance and tolerance, but also of courage and self expression to many in the LGBTQ community.
Bruce Jenner opened up about his lifelong struggle to be true to himself in April during an exclusive interview with Diane Sawyer. During the interview, Jenner discussed that even as a young child, he felt he was in the wrong body, and now he was finally making the transition he hoped would bring peace.
In June, Bruce Jenner receded and Caitlyn Jenner emerged in his place. Caitlyn’s Vanity Fair cover became the biggest story of the year, and Jenner’s Twitter account broke a record as more than two million people in four hours opted to be followers of Caitlyn’s new journey.
Since then, Caitlyn Jenner’s quest to be her authentic self has been a topic of controversy among conservatives and celebration among liberals. And even on a day in which Americans should be celebrating unity, Jenner’s 4th of July message was met with divided response, with some even lamenting that Jenner’s fame and fortune make it difficult for her to truly understand the plight of the transgender community.
— Stage 4 Irony Girl (@GladNGoodGirl) July 4, 2015
you're not an American, you are a disappointment. @Caitlyn_Jenner
— Saw Vinnstrswap (@Vinnstr) July 4, 2015
@Caitlyn_Jenner This military wife thanks you for your patriotism. Your courage in self-expression and self-determination inspires us all.
— Lily Burana (@lilyburana) July 4, 2015
Regardless of one’s stance on Jenner’s gender transition, there is no mistaking the pride Caitlyn takes in both being an American and being herself. As Bruce, Jenner’s training and perseverance brought pride to American sports history. As Caitlyn, many feel that Jenner’s fame and social status will enable her to help pave the road for other members of the transgender community as they, too, seek acceptance.
[Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]