By now, everyone’s heard about Caitlyn Jenner. We know her story to some extent. But, is her story so big simply because she was already famous? Why is the transgender community making such a huge deal out of her coming out?
I know for a lot of individuals, mainly outside the LGBTQ community, it’s difficult to understand why Caitlyn Jenner’s public coming out is so important for the transgender community. I’m no expert in the field, but I’m here to explain why it was so important for me as a transman and why I think it’s been so important for other transgender individuals.
First off, Ellen DeGeneres did a very similar thing for the lesbian and gay community years ago. Though I was just a wee little lad about to turn 3 when the news broke, I know it was just as controversial and as big of a deal as Jenner’s coming out. Since DeGeneres came out in 1997, we’ve seen great progress in the LGBTQ community. Marriage equality is sweeping across the United States, equal rights are being implemented, there are laws to protect us as opposed to put us in harm’s way, and so much more. That’s not to say that all happened only because DeGeneres came out publicly, but it had an impact. She paved the way for others who felt like her to come out. For there to be a shift in the way individuals see the gay and lesbian community.
Ms. Jenner is doing the same thing in 2015 for the transgender community. She’s making people aware of our existence, of the things we face day in and day out that are so ugly and painful it’s hard to imagine. During her interview with Diane Sawyer, she mentioned suicide rates among the trans community, the murder rates among the trans community and even addressed the fact that trans women of color face the most hate in our community. She educated her audience. She showed others in a similar position that it’s OK to be who you are and love yourself every step of the way. Jenner showed us, both those in and out of the LGBTQ community, being different is absolutely acceptable. To sum up the Sawyer-Jenner interview, I think of Dr. Seuss’ quote “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”
I think it’s pretty clear that Jenner made an impact for and with the transgender community. For me, personally, she gave me the strength I needed to remember that I am here for a reason, living this life for a reason, facing these struggles for a reason, and someday, somehow, all of this will be worth it.
Since my own coming out, I’ve realized that the majority of my suicidal tendencies revolved around my lack of connection with my identity. I didn’t know who I was or who I was going to be. Now, I’m much happier and less and less depressed as the days go by. Being me is the only thing that can make me happy in the long run, and Jenner said it best when she said, “I’m not doing this to be interesting. I’m doing this to live” in her Vanity Fair interview.