words are all i have

Caitlyn Jenner: The best transgender woman that money can buy


It wasn’t so long ago when Caitlyn Jenner brought me to tears. Now she just bores me to tears.

patti dawn swansson

patti dawn swansson

I didn’t watch the ESPY gala from Tinseltown on Wednesday night, in part because I find most awards shows to be bling-is-the-thing exercises in excess, much like Hollywood itself, but also due to the fact Jenner would be receiving the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage.

To be clear, I have no quarrel with Jenner being saluted for her courage in transitioning from Bruce Jenner to Caitlyn.

There are many layers to courage. Marching off to war takes courage. Racing into a burning building to save a life takes courage. Smiling in the face of a terminal illness takes courage. But being true to one’s self can also take courage. Any out gay person can tell you that, because they have faced and conquered the fear. It is a different level of courage, to be certain, but it often contains a life-and-death element.

So, sure, give Jenner the Ashe Award. Bravo.

It’s just that the Jenner story seems so contrived. So publicity driven. So—dare I say it?—tabloidish trashy. That’s the other reason I didn’t watch.

Alas, there was no escaping Jenner this morning. At every turn I took on the internet, there was Caitlyn in her white, floor-length, form-hugging Atelier Versace frock, her $3,485 emerald, tear-drop earrings and her swept-to-one-side coif, all the handiwork of noted La La Land stylist Jen Rade, who has been known to run her fingers through Angelina Jolie’s mane. There were also many style-over-substance headlines, because that’s what it has been all about for Jenner since she appeared on the cover and in the pages of Vanity Fair in June.

Indeed, in introducing Jenner as recipient of the Ashe Award, American lesbian soccer star Abby Wambach described the former Olympic decathlon champion as “stunning.”

Good grief, she isn’t a transgender advocate. She’s a photo op.

Surely, though, there must be more to her than glitz and glam and Vanity Fair. Well, isn’t there?

Apparently not.

Oh, sure, Jenner’s acceptance speech has been described as passionate. Powerful. Stirring. Emotional. Moving. Inspiring. She talked about accepting people for who they are. She told us that transgender youth are being bullied, beaten, murdered and commiting suicide, all things the aforementioned Wambach had already referenced in her intro remarks. She told us that transgender people deserve respect and that she will “do whatever I can to reshape the landscape of how transgender people are viewed and treated.”

Yadda, yadda, yadda, yawn. For me, it was nothing more than the spewing of bromides that were cliched in tone and delivered by a multi-millionaire attention-hog who, no more than five months ago, cared so little about the transgender collective that she had never reached out to anyone in the very community that she now purports to champion.

To this point in time, Caitlyn Jenner has brought nothing new to the transgender discussion, other than a surgically adjusted face (cost: $70,000), a new set of boobs (cost: $10,000) and an annoyingly odd voice (if you’re going to spend 70 large on the face and another 10 large on the boobs, you’d think you’d dip into the piggy bank for some spare change for voice lessons or vocal cord surgery).

But aside from her painfully obvious style-over-substance platform, here’s where I’m having even greater difficulty with Jenner: Her true confession.

Before a few months ago, I had never met anybody else who was trans, who was like me,” she admitted. “I had never met a trans person, never.”

I believe we can file that revelation under ‘S’ for shocking.

I mean, let’s think about this. In her first 64 years on the Third Rock from the Sun, Jenner had not met a transgender person. Not one. Yet, after wearing a dress for less than two months, she now props herself up as a champion of the cause? And many people are drinking the Kool-Aid. They’re calling her a transgender role model. A transgender icon. A transgender heroine, as The Guardian once described her.

That’s beyond appalling. It’s insulting.

Caitlyn Jenner is a Jill-come-lately to the cause of equal rights for the LGBT collective and, as much as I welcome any voice to the crusade, it won’t be until she can actually speak from life experience that I might listen to something she has to say.

In the meantime, since her very public ‘outing’ with Diane Sawyer on ABC last spring, a soul-baring gambit which, for me, was very emotional, she has shown me just one thing: What money can buy.


10 thoughts on “Caitlyn Jenner: The best transgender woman that money can buy

  1. Reblogged this on regan5 and commented:
    My thoughts exactly. Bravo on mentioning the struggles of trans youth. We need action Caitlyn, not jus words.

  2. Extremely Well Said!!!! It needed to be said!! TY!!

  3. Another interesting point, if you saw the out-takes of her acceptance speech… Not once does she suggest something along the lines of her accepting the courage award in the name of all transgender people, or something gracious like that. A total lack of humility! The whole thing was about “her”, how she was “suffering”, how her children suffering, as if she was the only transgender person who endured such things!. She of course tossed in a few token messages of hope and support.

    But you’re correct, the title of this blog could not be more on the mark… “The Best transgender Woman Money Can Buy”! Absolutely!!!

    • Thank you for your comments. I just finished posting a piece that speaks to your point about not accepting the award on behalf of the community. When I received an award earlier this year, I accepted it on behalf of gay/transgender youth.

  4. In Germany there’s not much in the news about Caitlyn Jenner anymore. After her coming out the newspaper articles vanished immediately. Therefore I have not much of an opinion on her. But I like that her celebrity status brought some attention to trans topics in Germany. For example there was a documentation about trans women in Thailand, a movie about a trans woman (“Mein Sohn Helen” = My Son Helen) and several articles about a wide range of related topics. Even after Caitlyn Jenner disappeared from German media the attention of the media regarding trans topics remained at least to some degree. For this I’m thankful. Knowledge about trans people is now a little bit more common in Germany and I think that helps us German trans people a lot. 🙂

  5. It’s fine that Jenner’s celebrity brought the transgender to a wider audience. Trouble is, whenever she opens her mouth she says something counter-constructive. She doesn’t have a clue what she’s talking about, and I believe she’s a serious detriment to the transgender cause.

    • Fortunately, in Germany nobody cares for what Caitlyn Jenner has to say. We had articles about her transition and her operations but none about her opinions or thoughts. Judging from what I read on wordpress about her that’s a very good thing. 🙂

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