Just call her Caitlyn


Emma Bruce, Feature Editor

On June 1, Vanity Fair magazine published a story introducing Caitlyn Jenner, formerly known as Bruce Jenner. Although the initial reaction I saw was surprisingly positive, it wasn’t long before people started making transphobic jokes and comments.

The first joke I saw about Caitlyn Jenner was her cover photo paired with the “Jake from State Farm” commercial. In place of Jake’s lines were “Call me Caitlyn” and the “punchline” was at the end—calling Caitlyn “a guy.” I disgustedly watched the number of retweets and favorites grow rapidly each time it appeared on my Twitter feed.

People who originally tweeted how great they thought she looked began retweeting things that used incorrect pronouns or called her Bruce. It may have been intended to be a joke, but it isn’t very funny to put her down in a time when she needs support the most.

The reality is that although cisgender—a type of gender identity in which individuals identify themselves by the genders they were assigned at birth—superiority has been fed to us forever, transgender women are women. It doesn’t cost you a thing to call her by the correct pronouns, but it can make all the difference to the person that’s transitioning. If it can bring people joy to refer to them by their preferred pronouns, why wouldn’t you change what you call them? Furthermore, Jenner looks amazing, and I know for a fact there are millions out there that think the same. Jokes about her appearance aren’t even relevant, not to mention cruel. Had I not already known, I would’ve never guessed that she’s 65. What’s so funny about calling a strong woman hideous?

Not only have accounts been attacking her appearance and gender, but they’re also arguing that she isn’t worthy of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. I’m not saying that I don’t think Noah Galloway, a disabled Iraq veteran, didn’t deserve to win; I’m saying that people need to stop saying what Jenner did isn’t courageous in comparison. Courage comes in all kinds of forms, and in a world where the average life expectancy for transgender people is 30 to 32 years according to psychologist Graciela Balestra, it takes a ridiculous amount of courage to come out to friends and family—let alone the entire world. Jenner didn’t suffer physical injury defending her country, but she’s paving the way for equality, and that’s an extremely brave thing to do.

Ultimately, your views on Caitlyn Jenner are just as valuable as mine. However, there’s no need to take offense when you’re called close-minded or transphobic, because by being set on the idea that transgendered people are unnatural, you do have a narrow outlook. Transphobia is the dislike of transgendered people. By definition, you are transphobic, so embrace the title if that’s what you believe. Nobody is forcing you against your will to accept LGBT people; you have the right to have your own morals and values. But if you take so much offense to being called transphobic, you would have a fit over the things you would be called if you were a member of the LGBT community.

People love to think that America is a place for equality and new ideas, but Jenner has been a great example of how far we are from equality. Whether one learns transphobia from his or her religion, family or classmates, it really shows just how difficult it is for our society to put others’ feelings above what we’ve been taught to think. We grow up being told that we should be ourselves and stay true to who we are, but the minute being ourselves is different from what people are used to, we’re taunted and called unnatural. We weren’t born wearing makeup or even with clothes on, but those things make us happy and comfortable, so it doesn’t really matter if somebody’s choice is natural or not. Even within the Jenner family we accept unnatural changes. Kylie Jenner is open about the fact that she has lip implants and they’ve become iconic. Kim Kardashian has had work done too and she’s praised for how great she looks. We accept it because it makes her eye candy and that makes her unnatural aspects beneficial to society. Why should Jenner’s unnatural aspects be treated any differently?

We’ve been able to make plastic surgery as common, despite it being unnatural, but we still struggle when people come out as transgender. If we’re really all equal, then treat trans people with the same respect you treat cisgendered people. Be kind to people who find comfort in their own skin in ways different than you do.