Reactions to Caitlyn Jenner: Laverne Cox & Gold Medal Tension
The world is still in awe about Caitlyn Jenner’s gorgeous Vanity Fair cover. The image of her invitingly staring at the camera in her white, satin corset is already close to reaching icon status. While many are tagging their tweets of praise with #callmecaitlyn, there is a group of people tweeting back a far more negative response: #givebackthegold.
A campaign called ‘Revoke Caitlyn Jenner’s Olympic Medals’ to get the International Olympic Committee to revoke Caitlyn’s medals has gained momentum over the past two days. It argues since she claimed she always felt like a woman, Caitlyn violated the Olympic’s rules regarding one gender competing in another gender’s event. The website states, “We urge Ms. Jenner to support the transgender community by giving up the medals earned by competing against the wrong gender.” Scarily enough, over 2,500 people agree that Caitlyn doesn’t deserve them anymore.
At the time, Caitlyn Jenner went by Bruce Jenner on official documents and in reports for the media. If the supporters of #givebackthegold are questioning Caitlyn’s true gender, they are essentially refusing to acknowledge how all humans change. The idea that athletes must know who they really are before they compete in the Olympics is tricky since competitors often start training at a young age when questions of gender aren’t even brought up. Rather than praising Caitlyn’s efforts in winning medals and breaking world records, these supporters are shaming her for not coming out as a woman. They focus on appearance rather than performance, acting as if the Olympics isn’t an event focusing on an athlete’s physical capabilities.
Many reactions to Caitlyn Jenner, like the campaign, focus on her privileged status and celebrity. On her Tumblr, Laverne Cox posted how we shouldn’t only focus on transgender celebrities, but also acknowledge the issues within the rest of the community. She wrote, “Most trans folks don’t have the privileges Caitlyn and I have now have. 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.” She calls for us to be aware of what we don’t say when we post, “ YASS CAITLYN” and “SLAY GIRL.”
While we should support Caitlyn for her choices (and definitely not try to take away her awards), we also need to support the entire community. Volunteer or donate to organizations like National Center for Trans Equality, get lawmakers to enforce non-discrimination laws, or even let those around you know that you’re an ally. Try to change the conversation so that trans people everywhere can be free.
Laverne Cox photographed by Skye Parrot, Styled by Paul Bui
Caitlyn Jenner photographed by Annie Leibovitz for Vanity Fair