From Bruce to Caitlyn

Caitlyn Jenner’s impact on the public’s understanding of transgender issues

Vanity Fair

Feeling comfortable in one’s own mind and body is something that many students face, but for some, the issue goes father than skin deep. 

Caitlyn Jenner, formerly known as Bruce, recently announced her transition to becoming a woman, sparking media frenzy. The outcry of support for Jenner is well deserved, but what exactly does it mean for those who will never have the same TV presence?

 Jenner has stated in an interview with Diane Sawyer, “I think this is going to do some good — and we’re going to change the world.”

Shannon Weissman, PheKin ’17, is quick to agree. “[S]he acknowledges that [s]he is a public figure and will use this to [her] advantage to make a difference in the trans community.” 

Of course although Jenner hasn’t classified herself as a trans activist, her widely-covered transition will influence awareness and public sensitivity towards trans issues. 

But her experience will be far different from others of the trans community.

Jenner has been in the celebrity spotlight since the mid 1970s, when she won gold in the decathlon at the Montreal summer Olympics. Her consequent marriage to Kris Jenner and involvement with the Kardashian family has kept her life under strict media scrutiny for decades. There aren’t many people in the world who can claim to have had that much screen time. 

Gender transition is a sensitive topic, especially when it concerns members of the trans community who’ve yet to accept their true feelings of identity and express that to the rest of the world.

“The way [s]he went to [her] family and showed the world how people love you no matter what and how family will be there for you ... I was inspired,” Gabi Sandler, ArtSci ’17,  said.

While it’s true that Jenner has had the full backing of her family, there are still many who don’t have the same accepting family, friends or badge of “Kardashian approved”. 

She’s privileged, whereas others might not be.  

While Jenner’s celebrity status has made her a hero in the eyes of many, it’s important to note the many other heroes here at home — friends, family and loved ones who are struggling with their identity on a daily basis.

As students we meet new people every day as we walk across campus, in our classes, at club meetings, or around the Ale House. As a result, we’re constantly being exposed to different personalities. The most important thing that Caitlyn Jenner’s case can teach us as a community is to judge people solely on who they are as people, and accept them for whoever they choose to be.


(Graphic by Ashley Quan)

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