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When Olympic gold medalist Bruce Jenner transitioned into Caitlyn Jenner, there was no way she could do it privately. As Bruce, she had already been featured on many seasons of her family’s reality show, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, and that family was always in the spotlight, with or without their own TV show.

So E! put Caitlyn Jenner’s story on the air. Season one of I Am Cait showed Jenner taking her first steps into life as a woman, and meeting a group of transgender women who became her closest friends. Now I Am Cait is back for a second season, and Jenner hopes she can further discussions about transgender causes. One issue is simply helping the world as a whole understand what a gender transition is.

Speaking with the Television Critics Association about season two of I Am Cait, Jenner articulated how the question “When did you know you were a girl?” is something many women never even think about growing up. But if you were born biologically male, it is a question that stays on your mind your entire life.

“You can never get away from it,” Jenner said. “It's not like you can take two aspirin and get plenty of sleep, and you are going to be fine. That's something that goes through all of our heads every day. Granted, I think there are different intensities here. Some at a very young age, at the age of three, four, five, they know exactly who they are, and they are going to live that life. So my advice to young women is to just enjoy life. Enjoy being a girl. Enjoy being a trans man. If the question is ‘When did I know I was a boy?’ that's a whole other set of circumstances. So, yes, the trans issues are out there, and we are trying to bring them forward.”

Season one of I Am Cait helped people talk about transitioning by humanizing one woman as she made the transition herself. For season two, Jenner wants to expand the conversation. She will travel the country meeting people in different cities, and will introduce them to herself and her friends.


“I want to change people's thinking on this issue,” Jenner said. “I am with the greatest group of women you could possibly be with. These are smart, intelligent, fun people to be around, and they need to be represented positively out there. It's very easy for reporters, for people, to dwell on some of the negative issues, and we certainly do have some really tough issues with suicides, with the murder rate. Last year, we had twice as many murders as we had the year before, towards trans women."

"There are a lot of very serious issues out there," Jenner adds, "but with the show, I want people to know that these are normal people, and that this still happens. This is not an issue that has borders. This is an issue that is global. It is all over the world.”

While she acknowledges there are transgender targeted murders and other dangers even in the U.S., Jenner has been fortunate to be able to focus mostly on sensitivity and communication. In other countries, conditions for trans people are even more dire. LGBT covers Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans, and their rights need to be protected around the world.

“I met with Samantha Power, our U.N. ambassador, and spent two hours with her,” Jenner said. “It was a great conversation to have with her, to look and see what the issues really are. It's difficult to even believe that in 90 out of the 193 member nations in the U.N., if you are anywhere in the L, the B, the G, or the T, it is a very serious criminal offense in those countries. You could be put in jail. You could even be executed!” 
(Editor’s note: these recent articles from Business Insider and Buzzfeed actually put the current number at 76.) 

When deciding to put the latest phase of her life on television, Jenner didn’t want to just show another Kardashian woman in the spotlight. It had to be about something of value to others going through transitions like she was.
We all love good clothes
“It was a conscious decision that I wanted this show to be about the issues,” Jenner said.  “Sure, we all love good clothes and all of that kind of stuff, but I really wanted the people to get to know all of my girls, everybody that's involved with the show. I love my kids. I have a great relationship with all of my children, but this is a different show. This is about a serious issue, and so I wanted to keep that distance,
somewhat. Although Kris has been on the show, and Kim has been on the show. I bring them over, and I actually shot a piece with them the other day with Kendall for Keeping Up.”

Paparazzi & ReportersThe transgender women on I Am Cait include Candis Cayne, Jennifer Finney Boylan, Ella Giselle and Chandi Moore. When paparazzi and reporters were trying to out Caitlyn before she was ready to announce her transition, these women helped give her the courage to go public.


“These are my dearest, closest friends that have kind of taken me under their wing, and helped me out along this road,” Jenner said. “Transitioning is not easy, especially if you do it in the public eye. I really had no choice, because I was getting destroyed in the tabloids for years, and I knew I had to address it at some point. Luckily though, doing it with these girls has been absolutely great. I've learned a lot from them, and I love them to death."

But, to be honest with you, for almost my entire life I never really liked going out. I never really felt like I fit in anywhere. I was always, kind of, more of a loner. Now, after transitioning, I actually really enjoy going out, and I have so many fun things to do, plus all of my girls have helped me out kind of getting past the tough part, which is the beginning when you first do go out. Now I'm just very comfortable with myself, and I really actually enjoy a social life.”

Dearest Closest Friends

On another note, the social life of the Jenner and Kardashian family made her transition even more sensitive. She chose carefully which formats would allow her to be taken seriously.

“Honestly, I have never sought fame,” she said. “The only thing that I have struggled with my whole life is finding inner peace. I have found that to be true! I had long talks with my public relationships firm about how I can do this or that, and do it properly. I knew I had to do it publicly, just because I was getting trashed so bad. So how can we take this issue out of the gutter and put it up here?"

She added, "Starting off, it was very well thought out. First of all, I owe Diane Sawyer so much. She set the tone for what I was about to do. Vanity Fair, the exact same way, classy magazine, credible magazine, Annie Liebovitz doing the pictures, coming out that direction.”

Finding Inner PeaceThe Sawyer interview and Vanity Fair cover were the world’s first true introduction to Caitlyn Jenner, having completed her transition. Since doing so, she has seen firsthand how young transgender people be themselves or even come out in the first place.

“I want this community to be represented the right way, and just because of who I am, my background, where I've come from, if that is a platform, the platform is not for me,” Jenner said. “It is for this community. It's for all of the people that we just went out and met acr
oss the United States of America to be able to tell our story, and if my celebrity, all of that, helps in doing that and making it better for the next generation of trans people coming up, baby, I'm all in. And to be honest with you, mostly, it's all young people. I take 50 selfies a day with primarily young women and young boys. The next group of people coming up, I think, really have a different look at this, at what we are doing here.”


Not everyone has been supportive of Jenner. Since she is such a central figure for the trans community now, every statement she gives has been scrutinized. In a Time Magazine interview she was criticized for suggesting she could look like “a man in a dress” if she didn’t present herself well. She also confused many by expressing she couldn’t quite accept gay marriage, in an interview with Ellen Degeneres. Jenner deals with the criticism as well as the support.

Cait Biker Babe“As far as all the criticism, I do see it,” Jenner said. “It is tough. I'm very famous for calling people who write articles, calling them after it's over with, and even the ones that are criticizing me, and my reaction to that was to say to them, ‘You know what? I think you had some very legitimate points in there, in your article. I thought it was very well-written. My only criticism of it is you don't know me. You never talked to me. You don't know what my intentions are, and you don't know the type of person that I am. That was my only criticism. So I'd like to talk to you. Let's get to know each other.’ That's pretty much how I've handled it up to this point.”

Jenner’s support for the Republican party has also confused the trans community, since Republicans have traditionally tried to combat gay marriage and have even stood in the way of LGBT access to the right restrooms. Candidate Mike Huckabee suggested that a trans woman using the ladies room was just a man trying to look at girls. The question of politics was the one that made Jenner herself less vocal.


“I really don't want to heavily get into politics because, certainly, we have enough politics going on in the United States right now,” Jenner said. “If the Republicans haven't been very good on this issue, which I agree they haven't been, isn't it good that they have an ally, somebody on the team that can go in there and maybe change their minds? That's a good thing. That's kind of the way I look at it.”

The Community RepresentedJenner has big goals for Season Two of I Am Cait, hoping to promote understanding and solve some of the serious issues facing the trans community. She also acknowledges that she has been fortunate to receive so much support for her own transition.

“I have been very blessed,” Jenner said. “I am the exception to the rule. I am not the rule in coming out. I've seen nothing but love. People every day of my life come up and thank me. So I've been very, very blessed, but I know it's not that way for so many people in this community.”

And If Cait has her way, it's easy to see that lack of acceptance will be changing very soon!

 I Am Cait airs Sundays on E! beginning March 6 at 9 ET/PT.

 

www.Dishmag.com / Issue 178 - September 2018
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