After all of the suffering we’ve experienced over the years, the transgender community seems to finally be on a path to new levels of acceptance and legitimacy in today’s society.
Considering all of the positive exposure transgenderism is receiving with recent mainstream TV programming like “I am Jazz”, “Transparent” and “I am Cait”, I still see an all-to-familiar demon haunting all of us. It’s a recurring cancer that, if not addressed, could unfortunately become our undoing.
So here’s the tough question for you the reader: How does the trans community seriously begin to deal with all of the bigotry and misunderstanding with regard to who we are when there is still so much negativity, judgement and jealousy present within our own community?
There is no denying that transgender individuals come from a wide range of economic groups, ranging from the poorest of the poor to the substantially wealthy. But can someone tell me – what sense does it make to invalidate an individual’s experiences (or existence) based on the level of personal success they have achieved? With life here on this rock so short, doesn’t each of us want to achieve as much personal success as we possibly can before our time here is up?
This is the problem with arguing privilege as the reason to invalidate someone else. The reality is that if our own lives were such that we could enjoy all the privileges that go along with being uber-successful, most of us would gladly take it in a heartbeat and run like the wind, never once looking back to our old life as it were.
The lesson that we in the transgender community don’t seem to want to learn is that there is no positive outcome in berating someone who has earned a substantial wealth via their own effort and hard work, and has achieved a high level of personal success as a result. Our community would be wise to come to realize this highly destructive habit needs to stop before we all succeed in cutting our legs out from under us. Let’s not do this at a time when we are finally making some headway in being taken somewhat seriously by cis-society.
Folks, here is the reality of the situation: The act of invalidating one another based on this idea of privilege is totally dysfunctional. The secret truth is that it is actually motivated by jealousy and it’s incredibly petty. There is no excuse for negative knee-jerk commentary on transgender celebrities when we are faced with the much larger problem of mainstream society seeing all of us as nothing more than a band of confused freaks hitching an easy ride on the “L” and “G” of LGBT.
Instead of realizing we have to focus our energies on coming together and positively changing society’s tragically negative view of transgenderism, we insist on partaking in the dysfunctional dressing-down of those within our ranks who are in an ideal position to lead the way for massive social change. Stop it. The recent barrage of attacks in the media coming from other members of the transgender community against Caitlyn Jenner are a prime example.
Transgender Former Navy SEAL and now Maryland Congressional candidate Krisin Beck said on the campaign trail regarding Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair cover photo, “Being on the cover like that – in her underwear – I just don’t really appreciate that image. That’s not what a hero should look like.”
I respect Kristin Beck, but I don’t agree with her on this point.
First, after some research, I discovered that Jenner’s Vanity Fair cover photo is nothing out of the ordinary for the magazine. There are actually several past covers featuring various female celebrities that are surprisingly similar in both layout and presentation. Other covers have been what I would consider to be much more conducive to stirring the social acceptance pot – think August 1993’s controversial cover featuring Cindy Crawford in black lingerie and stiletto boots shaving sharply-dressed KD Lang’s face.
My second issue is that Kristin seems to have a clear image of what a transgender hero looks like to her, but she needs to realize her definition may not resonate with the rest of us. We each have the right to, and are capable of, defining what a hero looks like to us. Maybe for some of us, hero isn’t even the right definition for Caitlyn. That’s fine. The idea here is that we as trans folk get to decide for ourselves what transgender looks like. I encourage Kristin to take another look at her words on the matter and stop making such negative statements about one of her own. I challenge Kristin to be willing to think outside of her own sphere. This is tremendously important when speaking aloud about such a advocacy powerhouse as Caitlyn Jenner.
At the end of the day, we would do wise as a community to stop kicking Caitlyn while she’s still in the early stages of making the world a better place for trans people. If you understand Cait, you know that by her own admission, she is quite new to being “out” as a trans woman and has a lot to learn about how that works. We’ve all been there. But keep in mind Cait is putting forth a tremendous effort in facilitating positive change. She does not deserve the backlash she’s receiving for being wealthy and successful. As far as her advocacy goes, all her wealth and success is a tangible asset from which we may all inevitably benefit.
As a gold-medalist Olympian, Caitlyn is a self-made and well-trained winner. If she wasn’t capable of great successes, she wouldn’t be a millionaire, nor would she produce and star in her own reality TV show advocating for transgender rights. We all need to stop with all the criticism and give her time and space to do what she excels at. If she wins at this…we all win.