Caitlyn Jenner’s Coming Out Will Teach Us All a Lesson

This iconic all American athlete’s story should inspire us to demand change

The online world blew up on June 1, 2015 when Vanity Fair released its cover story: Caitlyn Jenner.

Hell, it was such big news that the pregnancy announcement by Kim Kardashian was an afterthought. That’s some pretty serious stuff.

Formerly Bruce Jenner, the transgender woman known as the patriarch of the Jenner-Kardashian reality television empire has been under speculation for months, if not years, of being transgender.

Everyone’s curiosity was alleviated when she officially came out to ABC’s Diane Sawyer in a two-hour interview on April 24. Then, with much glitz and glamour, she was photographed by famed photographer Annie Leibowitz for a 22-page spread in “Vanity Fair.”

She told the world, “you can call me Caitlyn.”

Twitter, Facebook and Instagram instantly lit up on fire. Although most posts have been flooded with positive feedback for Jenner (“She looks beautiful!” “She’s hotter than Kris!” “Welcome Caitlyn!”) there has also been the expected negative response to her “coming out.” It was a mix of Kardashian fatigue, claims that she is not really a she, or that she’s a publicity whore.

Regardless of the response, the fact is that this stereotypically ultimate man — she was an Olympic gold medalist as a decathlon athlete at 26, no small feat — coming out as a trans woman has gotten people talking. People are tripping over the proper terminology and gender pronouns (we’re all learning, Associated Press included), but people are talking about it.

In the photo shoot, Jenner displays her beauty with expertly done hair and makeup while adorned in haute couture clothing and fine jewelry. But for many transgender people, this is not the reality. While we’re on the topic of transgender people, let’s talk about the facts:

  • Transgender people are not a protected population in employment discrimination in 33 states (Pride at Work)
  • Transgender people are currently banned from serving in the military (check out our story on this)
  • 46 percent of transgender men and 42 percent of transgender women reported that they have attempted suicide (Williams Institute,)
  • Transgender prisoners are 13 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than non-transgender prisoners. (Lambda Legal)
  • 19 percent of transgender people are living in poverty, compared to 5 percent of the general population. (GLAAD)
  • Although studies vary, up to 66 percent of transgender people, especially transgender women of color, will experience assault in their lifetime. (Office for Victims of Crime)
  • One in five transgender people have experienced housing discrimination and one in 10 have been evicted because of their gender identity (National Center for Transgender Equality)
  • Transgender people also experience healthcare discrimination; with 19 percent of those surveyed saying they were denied care because of their gender identity (National Transgender Discrimination Survey)

While we salute Jenner for finally being herself and applaud her beauty in her coming out at “Vanity Fair,” let’s take advantage of this moment. Let’s take the time to educate ourselves and others about trans people. Let’s look behind the Photoshop and see the reality of the plight of transgender people.

Let’s demand change for our transgender sisters and brothers.

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