In Two New Projects, Caitlyn Jenner Seeks to Show She's More Than Her Magazine Cover

In a new essay series and video clip, the Olympian says she's got a lot of catching up to do with the transgender community.
(Photo: I Am Cait/Facebook)
Jul 7, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Jennifer Swann is TakePart’s culture and lifestyle reporter.

Caitlyn Jenner became a transgender icon when she appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair a little over a month ago, but some wondered whether a rich, well-supported member of the Kardashian family could adequately reflect the reality of the transgender community. Compared with many transgender women, Jenner is older, has access to money and health care, and has the support of a huge family that embraces her.

Two new projects seem to confirm Jenner's commitment to understanding and publicizing the longtime challenges facing less fortunate transgender people in America: a new series of essays about LGBT issues and her forthcoming documentary TV show, I Am Cait. In a blog post published on her website on Monday, Jenner assured fans that she's dedicated to learning from transgender friends who haven't enjoyed the privileges that she has.

"Up until now, I have totally isolated myself from the transgender community so I have a lot of catching up to do," Jenner wrote in the first installment of The Real Me, a weekly column copublished with the celebrity blogging website WhoSay. "I feel such a responsibility to this courageous group to try to get it right and tell all sides of the story," she wrote, adding that she's listening to the diverse stories of transgender friends who come from vastly different backgrounds and experiences.

So, Why Should You Care? "You wouldn't believe the types of ordeals these people have had, how they have had to literally fight for their own survival," Jenner wrote in her blog post, pointing to the high rates of bullying and harassment faced by the transgender community. Not only that, but the transgender population is disproportionately affected by unemployment, homelessness, and poverty. Transgender people are four times as likely to live in extreme poverty and twice as likely to face unemployment compared with the general population, according to a 2011 report by leading advocates. Slightly more than 40 percent of transgender people reported attempting suicide. In her April interview with Diane Sawyer, Jenner revealed she was one of them.

 

Earnest and educational, Jenner's blog post suggests that she's learning about the transgender community right along with her fans. On Monday, she provided a glimpse of that journey in a new 30-second teaser for I Am Cait, which premieres on E! on July 26. It features a cameo from Jenner's mom, Esther, who was slow to embrace Jenner's transition but has since changed her tune.

"My first feeling was, I lost my son, but I thought, 'You know what, I'm gaining,' " Esther is seen saying. The clip also shows Jenner taking on the role of youth mentor and motivational speaker. "Hang out with the people that love you and respect you," she tells a group of teens. The message isn't too far from the advice Hillary Clinton recently gave a troubled gay youth: "Find the people who love and believe in you—there will be lots of them."