I Am Cait is Back But Should We Still Be Watching?

Posted by Tara G on

Last year I wrote a mildly passionate defense of I Am Cait as a show which was important for the visibility of trans women and for educating the masses in trans issues.

However, as the second season premieres tonight, I find myself questioning whether I should bother to tune in this time around.

Why?

Caitlyn. Jenner.

Since her transition last year, Jenner has been mired in controversy.

There was her stance on marriage equality being called into question on Ellen.

Then the Buzzfeed interview where she flippantly stated that the hardest thing about being a woman was "figuring out what to wear", promptly followed by her shortlist candidate interview with TIME for Person of Year where she talked about authentic representations of femininity.

Her statement that "if you look like a man in a dress, it makes people uncomfortable" suggested it was the requirement of trans people to adhere to social expectations of gender and appearance simply to make others feel more comfortable.

I mean, you might as well tell a woman of colour to paint herself white so them white folks don't feel funny.

Jenner was about six months post transition at this stage, and the apologists among us would be inclined to excuse her on the basis of the fact she's still learning and has a lack of education and experience surrounding women's rights and trans issues.

However, the final nail in the coffin came last week when Jenner publicly declared her support for Ted Cruz.

Ted.

Fucking.

CRUZ.

“I like Ted Cruz," Jenner said in an interview with The Advocate. "I think he’s very conservative and a great constitutionalist and a very articulate man."

WHAT. THE. ACTUAL. FUCK!?!? 

She goes on to admit that "he’s an evangelical Christian, and probably one of the worst ones when it comes to trans issues," but continues to throw her support behind Cruz and his economic policies, stating she and her squad from IAC could advise him on trans issues:

"Wouldn’t it be great, let’s say he goes on to be president. And I have all my girls on a trans issues board to advise him on making decisions when it comes to trans issues. Isn’t that a good idea?"

She fashioned them all as a possible trans ambassadors for the Republican Presidential hopeful, "so we can say, ‘Ted, love what you’re doing but here’s what’s going on.'”

Caitlyn Jenner lives in a fucking fairytale land if she honestly believes a man who openly opposes The Equality Act and introduced the State Marriage Defense Act is suddenly going to roll over on his evangelical values and start helping trans people.

In my previous article, I defended Jenner to a certain degree. No one is perfect, and it is understandable that someone who has lived much of their life shrouded in white male privilege and within the financial boundaries of the one percent will suffer from a few blind spots.

However, Jenner completed her transition last July, and there is no longer an excuse to be so utterly ignorant of the realities which transgender individuals are faced with everyday and the impact that toxic Republican rhetoric and policies have in the wider community.

Jenner's position has been divisive within her own squad. In a blog post on March 4, renowned trans activist and author Jenny Boylan stated that during the filming of season two, hanging out with Jenner "was infuriating. On the second day of filming, I tried to quit the show. I had a lengthy conversation with the show-runner saying, 'I just can't do this. I want to go home.'"

Boylan stuck it out, but there has been talk across the twitter-sphere regarding the notable absence of Jen Richards.

Richards added fuel to the fire today, tweeting:

Some of those girls are family. SOME. 

Regardless of whatever drama is happening on set, Jenner's overall political stance calls into question what kind of message she is trying to send with I Am Cait.

After being exposed to women such as Jenny Boylan, Jen Richards and the formidable Chandi Moore (who has been very vocal about Jenner's privilege induced obliviousness in the past), it beggars belief that she can still blindly cling to her conservative political leanings whilst trying to "help" the trans community. It is the very policies of politicians such as Ted Cruz which act as enablers for closed-minded bigots to actively discriminate against trans people.

There is no excuse any more. Caitlyn Jenner has access to educational resources that many could only dream of, there's no longer any room for the "she's learning" excuse.

Now it's become a question of the damage she is doing to the trans community, and how utterly unrepresentative of the community she is.

In my previous article I argued black and blue that the visibility and education that I Am Cait would provide to those less educated in trans issue would be invaluable. Now I can't help but view her as a damaging and divisive figure in the trans and LGBT community as a whole. Her comments surrounding Cruz have highlighted how utterly unrepresentative of the community she truly is.

Frankly, I would like to see a show based around the trans community sans one Caitlyn Jenner. The likes of Chandi Moore, Jen Richards, Candis Cayne, Jenny Boylan, Zachary Quinto and the countless others who have appeared over the course of the show are women who can provide a real education without the Kardashian circus or the complete and utter ignorance that Caitlyn Jenner has - and continues - to display.

The question remains as to whether we should continue to support a venture led by a tone-deaf, ignorant, rich white woman; or whether we should turn our attentions towards more worthy individuals such as Jen Richards' and her ground-breaking web series Her Story which has been heralded by Buzzfeed as "setting out to change the way we think about high-quality trans media."

That choice, in the end, is up to you.


Tara G is a jack-of-all-trades history graduate with a New Zealand accent. She has a penchant for beer, wandering and incessantly talking. 50% of the Bobo Academy BlogSquad. Currently based in Kyoto, Japan. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram.

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