Is Caitlyn Jenner's 'Sports Illustrated' Cover A Publicity Stunt Or An Attempt To Raise Awareness?

As Caitlyn Jenner is set to pose nude for the cover of Sports Illustrated, questions as to her motive behind the photo have also begin to pop up on social media.

With comments ranging from respectful to rancorous and everything in between, Caitlyn Jenner is garnering publicity as the first individual to have transitioned between sexes to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated. Her latest act is causing individuals to call into question if the publicity is meant to shed light on transgendered issues, or herself.

As an MSNBC report explained, Caitlyn Jenner can use the publicity being afforded her for the greater good of the transgender community. Hudson Taylor, the founder and executive director of the non-profit, sports-themed LGBT advocacy organization, Athlete Ally, explained how Caitlyn Jenner can take her publicity stunt beyond building her brand.
"As a former athlete, and member of the trans community, Caitlyn Jenner can be a voice for equality that other people can't be. She should use her platform and her privilege with a purpose."
Regardless of her motives, Caitlyn Jenner is set to grace the cover of an upcoming Sports Illustrated. The transgendered Olympian will be on the cover of the magazine with an American flag draped over her and will be wearing her Olympic medal.

Back when Caitlyn Jenner was still known as Bruce Jenner, she won an Olympic gold medal in 1976 for the men's decathlon. During the summer Olympics in Montreal, the then-Bruce Jenner won gold for the track and field medal that featured a combination of 10 different activities, and with it, a new world record.

It has been 40 years since the 1976 Olympics and a lot has changed since then, among them the fact that Bruce Jenner transformed himself into Caitlyn Jenner, citing a need to be his authentic self. As The Telegraph reports, Caitlyn Jenner gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated will coincide with the 40-year anniversary of this historic moment.

Since transitioning to a female, Caitlyn Jenner has yet to appear publicly with her gold medal. In fact, while writing a blog post for the Huffington Post, Caitlyn Jenner revealed that she keeps her gold medal in her makeup drawer. It is still important to her, though, as she stated in the blog post. "My gold medal is my most-prized possession — I'm so proud of it."

That pride, however, was always meant to stay with Caitlyn Jenner and not be transferred to her children. She was aware that it could easily overshadow their achievements, Caitlyn Jenner noted in her blog.

"I never wanted my kids to feel like they had to have a gold medal in order to be considered a success. I didn't want them to constantly compare their own achievements to my time in the Olympics, so I haven't displayed my medal."
Now that her children are grown and have found their own successes, Caitlyn Jenner can show her pride in public of her past accomplishments. By posing with her gold medal for Sports Illustrated, Caitlyn Jenner is sending the message that while she may have changed her gender, she has not changed her past. Who she was as Bruce is still a part of her as Caitlyn.

This won't be the first magazine cover that Caitlyn Jenner has posed for. She infamously appeared on Vanity Fair's cover last July, debuting her new look and her new name. In that photo, Annie Leibovitz had Caitlyn Jenner pose in a body hugging white 1950's style outfit.

This also won't be the first time that the gold medal has been worn by someone who was naked. According to the Washington Post, in 2007 on the TV show Keeping up with the Kardashians, Kris Jenner borrowed the medal and posed in a pair of gold medals and a flag. The purpose was to convince her daughter, Kim Kardashian, to decide on whether to pose for Playboy or not.

While some may see this as a publicity stunt, others may see Caitlyn Jenner continue to champion the rights of transgendered people. In June of last year, Caitlyn Jenner was announced as the winner of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. This award is for athletes whose contributions transcend sports and is part of the ESPY Awards. While there was controversy over if there were other nominees that better deserved the award, no one could deny the fact that being transgendered still takes courage, especially in a country where some people find it unnatural.

It's reasonable to assume the motives behind the magazine cover will be revealed by Caitlyn Jenner in the issue. Whatever her motives are, activists have protested her appearances. BET covered one such instance last year where organizers protested a speech Caitlyn Jenner delivered due to lack of transitioning struggles she faced, proclaiming the speech as an attempt to build name recognition instead of issue awareness.

"Make the services and make this movement and this plea for trans tolerance intentional and direct for the people who are facing the violence every day on the streets, the people who are being discriminated against on the basis of their gender and their race at the same time," a protester Monica James said. "She can't speak to those struggles. It defaces the real truth behind transitioning."

Do you think the Sports Illustrated cover featuring Caitlyn Jenner can extend beyond a publicity stunt? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

[Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images]