She’s only asking us to call her Caitlyn.
But despite that fact, people have made some distinctly opinionated comments on Caitlyn Jenner‘s gender transition. Immediately after the new her debuted on the cover of Vanity Fair in June, media praised the former Olympic athlete for the courage and bravery she displayed in going public with her story. And like many celebrities who’ve shared their truth with the public, Caitlyn first appeared to be surrounded by positive support – however, it didn’t take long for some to turn their backs on her. For the past couple of months, Caitlyn Jenner has faced her fair share of critics.
It started with her looks. Some said she was too beautiful, others said she wasn’t beautiful enough. Some said she was too big, others too thin. And of course, as per usual, people eventually moved on to bigger and better ways of “othering” Caitlyn, questioning her intentions, doubting her purpose, and attacking her character. Some called her transition a publicity stunt, claiming she was only in it for the fame. Others insisted her transition was merely an attempt to save Keeping Up with the Kardashians‘ ratings on E!, arguably the most insulting assertion of all.
What’s the newest criticism, you might ask? Well, according to The View co-host Raven-Symone, it’s that Caitlyn’s transition is “too fast, too soon.”
As a gay woman, Symone said on Monday’s episode of The View:
“When I came out, I didn’t go and go hardcore and be like, ‘I’m going to save the world for LGBT.’ You’ve got to learn it. You’ve got to learn it first, and she’s not, really.”
Before I start breaking this statement down, you should know that I’m not going to spend much time discussing Raven-Symone. That’s So Raven happens to be a staple of my childhood and the fact that she would say something this judgmental, despite her rather impressive collection of outlandish opinions, is truly disappointing. But with that personal bias aside, I’m not going to focus on Symone for one very simple reason, a reason that she herself seems to have forgotten – it’s not about her.
No one has the right to decide what makes a decision “too soon,” whether we’re speaking about gender transitioning or not. If Caitlyn Jenner decides to publicize her experience via social media and/or on television, she has the right to do so, just as I have the right to wake up at 10 a.m. on a Sunday morning and eat an entire bowl of ice cream. You don’t have to agree with the way Caitlyn has chosen to share her story, and you might think I’m pretty gross, but that doesn’t make either scenario “too soon.”
Calling Caitlyn’s transition “too soon” or “too fast” is no less insulting than calling her “too thin.” For 65 years of her life, she lived in a body that she felt wasn’t hers. Until only months ago, Cait spent her entire life hiding her true identity to avoid hurting her family and to steer clear of the critical wrath that is the media. If you ask me, choosing to be who you really are after 65 years of living otherwise is anything but too soon.
Caitlyn Jenner did not wake up one random morning at age 65 and think to herself, “I think I’m going to be a woman now.” That’s not how gender, human nature, or however you want to categorize it, works. This was something she lived with for the majority of what will be her life, and to discredit that fact insults all transgender individuals and their struggle to live as their true selves. If you don’t agree with Caitlyn’s decision to publicize her story on I Am Cait, don’t watch the show. We’re not living in George Orwell’s 1984. There’s no one controlling your television remote. No one is telling you what to watch or what to do.
As angered as I am by comments like Symone’s, more than anything, they make me sad. They make me think about all the transgender individuals, young and old, who watched The View on Monday night – the struggling souls who may now be convinced that it’s too soon for them to be who they really are. And more than anything, they make me hope that despite these deprecating statements, such individuals don’t lose sight of one vital, simple truth…
It’s never too soon (or too late) to realize what’s important in your life and to fight for it.
PHOTO CREDIT: Splash