Kids Embrace What Many Adults Are Missing About Caitlyn Jenner
It's a tried-and-true formula for viral videos: Introduce a group of kids to something they're not familiar with, and videotape their hilariously candid reaction. It works with food, technology, and pop music. There's even an entire YouTube channel devoted to children and teens responding to everything from '90s sitcoms to retro video games—because kids say the darndest things!
The women's lifestyle website She Knows also found that kids can help shed light—and lend a little positivity and common sense—to a seemingly complicated topic that many adults still find confusing. Case in point: a new video in which children prove open-minded and accepting toward Caitlyn Jenner after being shown photos of her first as a male track star and then as a transgender woman.
At first there's a fair amount of confusion, but then there's an overwhelming amount of encouragement. "The people who are saying [negative things about Caitlyn Jenner] are afraid to change themselves," one girl says in the video, which was taped in the week after Jenner debuted her new identity on the cover of Vanity Fair.
"I think they're just scared of change, and I think they just want everything to stay the same because they just don't know how to handle it," says another kid. They're responding to being shown images of tweets from people including journalists and media commenters who misgendered Jenner, refused to use correct pronouns, or made uninformed speculations about her mental health.
"The thing is, Caitlyn's name is Caitlyn, and journalists should refer to Caitlyn with her name, and not doing that is simply disrespectful and inaccurate," Vincent Villano, director of communications for the National Center for Transgender Equality, told TakePart last week in an interview about Jenner's Vanity Fair cover. "We see cases of this all the time with everyday trans people who are misnamed and misgendered, and it's just unacceptable."
These types of negative stereotypes and transphobic comments contribute to the overwhelming rates of harassment and discrimination faced by transgender Americans, who are nearly four times more likely to live in poverty, twice as likely to be unemployed, and face double the rate of homelessness as the general population, according to a 2011 report from leading LGBT advocates.
Without even seeing those grim statistics, kids in the video fully embrace Jenner's identity, which some adults are still grappling with. "Who she wants to be is who she should be," one girl says. Another kid chimes in: "It's important for you to be yourself because if you're not yourself, then who are you?"
The kids likely also hadn't read Jenner's confessional Vanity Fair profile, in which she reveals the pain and discomfort she suffered while living the majority of her life in what she felt was the wrong gender. "If I was lying on my deathbed and I had kept this secret and never ever did anything about it," she told reporter Buzz Bizzinger, "I would be lying there saying, 'You just blew your entire life. You never dealt with yourself.' And I don't want that to happen."