“Call Me Caitlyn”

Carlos Garcia, Staff Writer

It was a normal Friday night towards the end of April. I, along with 17 million other people, tuned in to watch Bruce Jenner come out as a transgender woman in a two-hour 20/20 with Diane Sawyer. With anything as monumental as this comes a myriad of thoughts and reactions, and the interview was the big topic for a few weeks. We have all discussed his (preferred pronoun at time of interview) transition at least once in the following days, even weeks, after the interview. About five weeks later, Jenner shook the internet and the nation with an easily-iconic Vanity Fair cover (shot by noted photographer Annie Leibovits) and a simple three-word slogan: “Call Me Caitlyn.” Here’s why this is important:

For the older audience, they witnessed Jenner triumph in the 1976 Summer Olympics in track and field, and become an American hero and the “epitome of a man”. Jenner was looked up to by millions of people, and still remains to be a hero in the eyes of the LGBT community by boosting trans* (asterick denotes all gender identities) visibility.

Although Caitlyn’s transition is important for multiple reasons, she does not represent the reality for most transgender people. Transgender people today face relentless discrimination and are often turned away from basic rights as people in the workforce. We cannot look away from the fact that transgender people are four times more likely to live in poverty or that they are unemployed at twice the rate of the general population. We cannot look away from the fact that nearly 1 out of 5 transgender people have been homeless at one point. We cannot look away from the fact that 1 in 12 transgender people are murdered, and a more shocking fact that 1 in 8 trans women of color are murdered (according to Guidelines for Transgender Care by clinical psychiatrist Walter Bockting). But Caitlyn has understood that she does have privilege, so she deserves a nod for that. Even transgender actress Laverne Cox–who plays Sophia Burset in hit Netflix TV show Orange is the New Black–wrote on Tumblr saying, “Most trans folks don’t have the privileges Caitlyn and I have.”

Regardless of privilege, the one thing we should do is accept people for who they are. It’s 2015; more and more transgender people each day are becoming much more visible, and it is important that we accept that. Go ahead, embrace Caitlyn in her winning the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, go pick up that July issue of Vanity Fair, and go watch her docu-series on E!, I Am Caitlyn, which premieres on Jul. 26.