Story by Zoë Collenburg
Lots of opinions are flying around about Bruce Jenner’s transformation in Caitlyn Jenner, most of them centered on the Arthur Ashe Award and her looks, and oh-so very little on the obstacles and rewards of this process.
Our generation knew Bruce as the father of the Kardashian-Jenner family and husband to Kris, but before all of that, Bruce was a gold medal track star and actor. Although Caitlyn’s debut is fairly recent, her struggle was not. It’s become more popular news that as a young boy Bruce struggled with his gender identity, but now at 65, Caitlyn is here.
Everything I have heard from the media about Caitlyn Jenner is her appearance. Took about 2 minutes for the media to start treating her just like an American woman. If you have seen Jon Stewart’s’ piece about it yet, he sums it up well with, “you see, Caitlyn, when you were a man, we could talk about your athleticism, your business acumen, but now you’re a woman, and your looks are really the only thing we care about.”
What I have found truly wonderful though, is actress Laverne Cox’s response. As the only other transgendered woman to appear on the cover of a magazine and a star of Orange is the New Black, Laverne has had a voice that hadn’t been held before. Cox dove right into explain that we need to stop talking about how glamorous Caitlyn is, and start being active in what it means to be transgendered without the fame.
She explains first, that “what I think is most beautiful about her is her heart and soul, the ways she has allowed the world into her vulnerabilities. The love and devotion she has for her family and that they have for her. Her courage to move past denial into her truth so publicly. These things are beyond beautiful to me.”
Cox then turns around the issue to others without their privilege and how there are so many other trans people suffering. She mentions our generation and the numerous suicides She explains that this is not just an issue for the rich and powerful but for all, for, “it is those trans folks we must continue to lift up, get them access to healthcare, jobs, housing, safe streets, safe schools and homes for our young people. We must lift up the stories of those most at risk, statistically trans people of color who are poor and working class.” Her public statement was beautiful to read and experience.
Controversy has taken over Twitter with debates about Caitlyn receiving the Arthur Ashe Award. The Ashe award is an award for courage for those in the American sports environment. Contrary to popular belief, there wasno runner up, but there were a lot of people upset about Caitlyn being chosen over others, including veteran Noah Galloway. And although I agree that someone who sacrificed for our country should be honored, that does not mean we tear anyone down in that process. Everyone up for that award deserved it, in many different ways with many different types of courage. I’m not arguing who really should have received it, because that comes down almost completely to your personal feelings about issues, but what I hope we can agree on is that Caitlyn’s courage is admirable and should not be taken away in comparison.
Now, I may be going out on a limb, but what I want to see is Ms. Jenner step up to the plate and use her voice and status as Cox has. Maybe it’s Caitlyn’s Kardashian history, or maybe it’s the difference between and Vanity Fair cover and a Time cover. I believe our voices are powerful things. So can we stop catcalling Caitlyn and start a call to action to take care of those in need? Whoever you think they may be.
About the Writer…
Zoë Collenburg is a Junior out of state student (hook ’em horns!) double majoring in English and Communication with a Theatre Emphasis. She is the Vice Chair of Student Senate, a Student Ambassador, and an Orientation Leader. She loves coffee, being on stage, and long walks on the beach.