When looking at gender identity, Caitlyn Jenner is one of the most famous and most controversial transgender people. Starring in the hit tv show “Keeping up with the Kardashians” as Bruce Jenner for 8 years is what Caitlyn is probably most known for these days however as a young Bruce, Caitlyn was one of America’s well-known athletes and the principle of masculinity.
However in 2014 the media started to notice that Bruce, as she was known at the time, was changing her appearance quite dramatically, she grew out her hair was having feminisation surgery on her face and was painting her nails. All of which are often signs of the start of a gender transformation. However, Caitlyn was having to do all of this under the public spotlight. She was even pictured wearing a dress in her Malibu home as Bruce, this was when media speculation skyrocketed and the spotlight was firmly on bruce.
No comment was made by Bruce or the family for months, until Caitlyn debuted on the cover of vanity fair magazine as Caitlyn, completely opening up to the world about her struggle and coming out as a transgendered woman. The cover was posted by vanity fair by all social media and by the end of that day it had already had over 10 million shares across all social media platforms. The use of the internet to revel Caitlyn seemed approaite as it is the new dominant form of media and was the best way for the news to reach the most amount of people, it also meant that people all around the world had access to the news. However, it was from day one that controversy surrounding this reality star surfaced and had huge impacts on the transgender community as a whole. Many people felt that the article and imagery showed Caitlyn as a women, whereas many people in the transgender community felt that the article lacked substance in terms of referring to the struggles of the transgender community.
“I am Cait” Caitlins own reality TV show aired in 2015, this show was heavily criticised for how Caitlyn decided herself, and many times showed her ignorance in regards to the transgender community which she now represented on a worldwide scale. This TV show was so close to her previous show “keeping up with the Kardashians”. Caitlyn would often run into trouble by saying insensitive terms that often offended the transgender community, famously she said: “I don’t want to look like a man in a dress, that makes people uncomfortable.” However many people from many different walks of life myself included felt as though this was insensitive to those transgender people that can’t afford to have the extensive surgeries that Caitlyn has had, and often came across and ignorant and rude.
The same day that the magazine aired Caitlyn opened a new twitter account with her new name, this account gained the most followers in 24 hours than any other account. This shows how interested the public was in Caitlyn’s story, also how important the internet was in sharing her story. The power of the internet, in this case, is demonstrated in how quick fan of Caitlyn and other people interested in her used the internet to find out about her. This new found revelevence in a huge online community however came at a cost as it would be the internet that also effected her downfalls.
This was heightened when Caitlyn went on a road trip with her other well-known transgender star Candice Kane. The intended outcome being that she would be able to meet other transgender people and gain a better understanding of the struggles that the transgender community face. However her reception among other transgender women was not very welcoming, they felt as I do that Caitlyn is extremely uneducated and far to privileged to truly understand what it is like to be a transgender person today. The show was a complete disaster and showed Caitlin to be very ignorant. Caitlyn would also often show off clothes that designers had sent her and other expensive products such as makeup, This added further to the idea that she was more interested in being women that showing herself as a strong transgender woman.
Caitlyn’s controversy climaxed when she appeared on Ellen and stated that she still held her conservative views and that she did not believe in gay marriage. This is arguably what pushed her image into the negative. Essentially she stated that she didn’t believe that people within her own community should not have the same rights as heterosexual people. Ellen who is on of the biggest lesbian stars was astonished and from there on the interview became more and more awkward with Caitlin digging herself-deeper with every statement. It was on youtube where this video gained the most viewers with around 3.5 million views, the wide reach of the internet means that Caitlyn even over a year after the interview is still finding it hard to shake off this controversy. However, the online exposure of this interview has enabled more influential people to stand up and call Kaitlyn out for her wrong doings showing the trans community that she doesn’t represent them but rather that she only represents herself and her reality show brand.
This as well as the other controversy mentioned prompted transgender you-tuber Blaire White to state that Caitlin was ” A cross dresser that had to money to buy tits!” This comment came out in outrage in a podcast when an interviewer asked her how she felt about Jenner. Although an outrageous comment White cleared up what she meant by what she said and its worth consideration. She feels that Jenner doesn’t connect to the transgender community as she isn’t part of it, she feels that she is more concerned with her appearance than anything else. As well as this she says that Jenner had been cross dressing for years, in fact, his ex-wife Kris Jenner revealed that Bruce as she knew that the time has been wearing women’s clothes for years. White argues however that this makes her feel that she may be a cross-dresser rather than transgender as she herself knows the pain and struggle of not being born in the correct body and feels that Jenner would have undergone this year before she did at age 66.
Most recently as reported by the Mail Online in January 2017 Caitlyn has accepted an invitation to the president elect Donald trumps inauguration. This is very interesting as Caitlyn as Bruce had been a long-standing conservative and it’s these “values” that she blames her views on gay marriage on. However, she had also been very public with her support of Donald Trump. This coming from a member of the LGBTQ community which Trump has been publicly used homophobic language and terms and often speaks out on transgender issues. By accepting this invitation many people feel that she is betraying the community and not representing transgender and LGBT people in a positive light.
This could also be linked to her constant attempts to “normalise” herself in her eyes, as has been seen much time on many tvs shows Caitlyn is constantly trying to brand herself as a CIS women, and although Caitlyn is undeniably a woman, she is also a transgender women and should be using her fame and influence for good. However instead it appears that she is constantly conforming herself to the dominant ideology of society in order to become more media friendly. She has commodified the transgender struggle and has turned it into a series of money making projects that many people of all sexual orientations and gender identities find to be a contradictory and extremely controversial.