Through I Am Cait, Caitlyn Jenner attempts to learn more about the transgender community. She does, in fact, acknowledge her ignorance about the community and the challenges that they face on a regular basis, however, camera crews and all-white women focus groups are not enough to keep the conversation going. Why has Caitlyn been praised for this glamorized, false representation of the transgender community? It takes many people a lifetime to admit to themselves and to others that they are transgender. Some never become comfortable with it, and others must save for years until they can afford to fully transition and create an identity that they feel comfortable with. I Am Cait furthers the idea that white individuals can do whatever they want, whenever they want, without any consequences in society.
Caitlyn Jenner was, and still is considered to be a transgender role model who helped pave the way for transgender people everywhere. Variety even went as far as to describe her show, I Am Cait as a “groundbreaking docu-series that sparked an important and unprecedented global conversation about transgender people, their struggles and triumphs.” I Am Cait undoubtedly started a necessary and important conversation about the transgender community. However, does Caitlyn Jenner truly embody all of the struggles and triumphs that transgender individuals face on a daily basis?
The National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force reported that 19% of the transgender people that were surveyed have experienced some type of violence or abuse from a family member. In addition, the National Transgender Discrimination Survey Report found that 26% of these individuals have lost their job due to their identity, and 41% of the surveyed individuals have attempted suicide. These are only some of the many struggles that transgender people face on a daily basis, and yet I Am Cait has failed to tackle any of them. From the stylish, sexy outfits, to the elaborate hair, makeup, and spa treatments, Caitlyn Jenner portrays a false reality of what it is truly like to be a transgender individual living in this world.
Gender reassignment surgery can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $100,000 depending on the amount of medicine and surgery that is needed. The average person is usually unable to afford the hefty costs associated with being transgender, and insurance companies are oftentimes unwilling to cover these individuals. Of the 636 insurance companies that the Human Rights Campaign analyzed back in 2012, only 207 of them provided healthcare insurance for transgender employees. Not only is it challenging for many transgender individuals to support themselves and find employment, but it is also difficult for them to keep these jobs and feel comfortable in their jobs on a day-to-day basis. Caitlyn Jenner, however, never once worried about how she was going to cover all of these costs, or how she was going to survive another day at her job without feeling alienated or humiliated. One day she was Bruce, and the next day she was Caitlyn: a brand new feminine face, voluptuous body, luscious hair, and a trendy wardrobe. One week later, Caitlyn had a new television show and unlimited amounts of money to support this long journey that America believes she traveled to becoming transgender.
The conversation on transgender rights, challenges, and triumphs is just beginning. Every single day that passes is considered a triumph for many transgender individuals. Caitlyn Jenner served as a rocky steppingstone toward unmasking the true fundamentals of the transgender discussion. She undoubtedly got people talking, but her inaccurate representation of the community also inspired many people to delve deeper into the topic and enlighten themselves, which means we are one tiny step closer to having equality for all.