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I Am Cait-cap: The Makings of an Icon

I Am Cait-cap: The Makings of an Icon

i am cait

Caitlyn hangs out with a group of trans women and learns a thing or two about privilege and the weight of her responsibility. 

i am cait

One of the most spectacular and divisive factors in Caitlyn Jenner's coming out story is that as a rich, famous white lady she has a voice in this country. After all, how many trans women get a Diane Sawyer interview, a Vanity Fair cover and their own reality show in the span of two months?

I Am Cait shows that this all didn't just happen overnight. In episode two, we meet some of the trans women guiding Caitlyn through her reawakening, as it were.

Author and activist Jenny Boylan says transgender people often go through a second adolescence and at times watching Caitlyn is kind of like watching an awkward teenager coming of age. The joy she finds in makeup and clothes, or the way she obsesses about her voice.

There's an innocence there, not only in the knowledge of womanhood but an innocence born from the relatively sheltered experience she's had compared to other trans women.


Caitlyn meets these realities for the first time, head-on, during a kiki with Boylan, actress/high-kicker/high-stepper/potential love interest(?) Candis Cayne, activists Drian Juarez and Chandi Moore, and writer Jen Richards.

i am cait

They all realize that whatever Cait says or does will have an impact on the transgender community so her new sisters try to shake her out of that Beverly Hills ivory tower. Caitlyn is particularly shocked at Candis' story about the treatment she received from a doctor in Los Angeles.

i am cait

Caitlyn fears that people may similarly turn on her, but Jenny and the other gals fear that Caitlyn may be out of touch with the world and the needs of trans people.

Things finally come to a head when Cait and the girls visit the Human Rights Campaign and sit down with some trans women who share an all-too common background in sex work. Caitlyn is then confronted with the truth of her own privilege as a white person with money and fame.

i am cait

There's always a lot of talk about "Privilege" when it comes to moral rectitude and generally doing the right thing -- who's denied it, who has it and how are they using it? What's so extraordinary about I Am Cait -- besides the fact that it shares DNA with Keeping Up with the Kardashians -- is that it brings this and other topics, specifically transgender rights and the plight of the trans community, to a national platform. And it's also what's extraordinary about Caitlyn Jenner. Whether you like it or not, in 2015 America: money talks, fame walks and race has a currency of its own. As does gender.

So as Cait begins to come to terms with her new role as the unofficial spokesperson for the transgender community, she must come to terms with the kind of fear that trans women less affluent than her face everyday. Like KUwtK, it all makes for good TV, you just don't feel like clawing your soul out after it's over. Quite the opposite, really.

Les Fabian Brathwaite -- Keeping Up with Cait.

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Les Fabian Brathwaite