It has definitely been a year of changes for the Jenner-Kardashian clan. Now that Caitlyn Jenner has admitted she is becoming quite comfortable with herself, received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, and worked with the Human Rights Campaign, her youngest daughter Kylie has turned 18.
Caitlyn Jenner may feel that her work is done as far as raising her children to adulthood, but her work has carried on as far as being an advocate for the LGBTQ community is concerned. Jenner has, indeed, been active; both her Twitter feed and her website, CaitlynJenner.com, have been rife with activity over the last few weeks, most recently with the story of Kyler Prescott, whose story Jenner also featured on her show, I am Cait.
Jenner opened her website to Prescott’s mother, Katharine, to allow her to share the story of Kyler’s journey, which sadly culminated in Kyler’s suicide two months ago. Katharine Prescott had legally changed Kyler’s name and gender and received her son’s new birth certificate in the mail three days after his suicide. Katharine said in her entry on Jenner’s website that she was happy to see that someone was trying to make a push for acceptance for transgender kids and adults.
“The wonderful thing is that people like Caitlyn are starting to spread the word. This isn’t just a passing thing. This is forever. We need to help every transgender person be their authentic self. Nobody should be denied that,” she said.
It is stories like Kyler Prescott’s that continues to drive Jenner’s advocacy; she is especially deeply concerned over the high suicide rates seen in the transgender community. Johanna Olson, MD, of the Center for Transyouth Health at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, is also deeply concerned. She, along with her colleagues, conducted a study of 100 transgender youth and learned that 51 percent had considered suicide while 30 percent had attempted it at least once. While the study sample is by no means large, the results are significant.
According to the study results, kids who identify as transgender wait an average of nine years to tell their parents, while most involved in the survey had come out as transgender by the time they had turned 17. In addition, hormone levels were also measured in the study sample and it was found the transmasculine or transfeminine hormone levels were on par with the “normal female” or the “normal male” range. Olson said that she believed the removed hormonal imbalances are as a causal factor in the high rate of transgender youth completing suicide.
Jenner’s work with the transgender community is only just beginning; on this week’s episode of I am Cait, she spoke with one of her producers about putting together a video about Blossom Brown, a transgender volunteer Jenner met during her time at the Human Rights Campaign in San Francisco. Brown has been turned down from several nursing schools, and she suspects it is because she is transgender. The story would then be sent to Ellen DeGeneres, where Jenner would then reveal she intends to pay for Brown’s schooling as a nurse.
Jenner believes that she has the opportunity, as someone who is in the public eye who has saved some money, to put her privilege to good work.
“I’ve lived a great life, and I realized in this transition I kind of have that privileged status. You were a white guy, I worked hard, I was able to put a few dollars away. So, I’m blessed. I’m in a wonderful position in life,” Jenner said of her privilege. “Boy oh boy, what I’m learning. It’s shocking for me to see the struggles that are out there.”
[Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Nederlander]