Since I wrote my open letter yesterday, I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback. I’m very happy to see so many people being supportive and making the world just a little bit better by accepting the beings who live in it. From this point, I see two more camps who I feel need addressing. There is the camp who says that going public wasn’t intentional and it wasn’t intended to benefit the trangendered community, so we shouldn’t be quite so supportive of it. There is also the camp who says that Caitlyn Jenner cannot be someone’s hero because she isn’t risking her life in order to help people. I’m going to address this second camp first.
In my letter yesterday, I mentioned that trans* people encounter disproportionately high rates of suicide, assault, sexual violence, and murder. I want you to take a moment and look here. Then I want you to look here. And here. Keep looking because there is more to see. Caitlyn Jenner risks her life just to exist as her authentic self. Her wealth and celebrity may protect her from the brunt of it, but being a celebrity doesn’t keep you from being killed. There is no guarantee that her being in the public eye will serve some greater good, but I can guarantee you that it will help more than it will hurt. If even one trans* youth sees her in the spotlight and decides not to commit suicide, then Caitlyn Jenner will have saved a life. That makes her a hero. We may never know if that happens or not. We don’t necessarily need to. The possibility is there and that’s good enough for me.
So, going back to the first camp, I am of the opinion that it doesn’t matter how or why Caitlyn Jenner went public. What matters is that she did and what she does while she is there. By virtue of being public she has raised awareness. She has sparked conversations. She has compelled transphobes to come out of the woodwork into the light of day and that has given the rest of us opportunities to combat that as we encounter it. I have had so many people say, “I’ve been friends with this person for so long and I had no idea they felt this way. I just can’t believe there is so much hatred.” Even if that is the only thing she accomplishes, that’s huge. It’s caused those of us who are allies to be even more visible. More people are seeing our support and that increases the chances that we can be there for people who we might not have been able to be there for. I cannot speak for all allies, but for myself, I more than willing to be an ally to anyone who needs me. You now know where to find me if you need comfort, support, and someone to have your back.