In light of Caitlyn Jenner’s sensational acceptance speech, let’s turn our attention to the platform she so emphatically spoke of. This past week, Caitlyn’s media presence has been stronger than ever. From being the recipient of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, to her speech that the virtual world went on about for days, to the most recent teaser of her upcoming mini-series “I Am Cait.” Alongside Caitlyn Jenner’s mini-series, however, another show about another transgender has recently been aired on tlc just this July 15th.
Jazz Jennings (Jenning, Jenner; similar names, coincidence? I think not!), spokesperson for the LGBTQ+ community since she was six and co-founder of TransKids Purple Rainbow Foundation recently aired her own show titled (you guessed it) ‘I Am Jazz’. The new TLC reality series focuses on Jazz and her family’s journey as she grows as a transgender person in today’s society.
The titles alone, the similarity of circumstance, and the timing of the two shows begs for a comparison. No doubt plenty would be holding a “Who’s the Better Face of Transwomen” competition soon. Should we? Shouldn’t we? Do we really need two shows featuring two glaringly different transwomen with two obviously distinctive journeys to self-realization? Let’s see…
Consider their age. Cait is a middle aged woman, while Jazz is still a fourteen year old girl. Cait’s is the story of risking losing the life she already had, while Jazz’s is the fight of building a life despite the obstacle imposed on her because of her difference.
In her transition, Cait risked ruffling feathers from a life Bruce has already established for himself. She risked losing the family Bruce raised, children that Bruce fathered businesses that Bruce headed. In her unraveling, Cait could’ve lost things her previous self knew to be already set in stone. She risked the comfort of things she already worked hard for.
Jazz has to fight for every opportunity that she needs. For example, when she had to fight for her right to play on the girls’ soccer team of her school. And, just as Cait’s story is about an unraveling of a person who’s been in hiding for years, “I Am Jazz” shows us the becoming of a transgender girl who got the support she needed from the beginning.
Consider their social status. These ladies in no way represents the spectrum of the social classes present in a America. But, we should remember that one lives as an A lister in LA while the other is from an ordinary family in the suburbs. Being a transgender has always been viewed as an eccentricity, but, compared to the suburbs, LA has been known to be accepting or indifferent towards the eccentric. On the other hand, much more fanfare is placed in an A-lister’s life choices compared to that of a young girl from a quiet neighborhood. Eyes everywhere versus eyes on every street.
Consider their perspective. This is where it gets tricky, because coming out as something else other than what you were born as is always going to be one of the most trying things that anyone could ever do in their life. However, while Jenner had to reveal his true inner self amongst life-long friends and family, and amongst the rest of the world, Jennings came out when she was but a toddler. Prying eyes and ears are always going to be an issue for people like them, but the weight placed on Jenner and Jennings do vary.
The tides these two are swimming against differ in currents, but, at the end of the day, they take the same strength to carry on.
Jennings’ story is not Jenner’s, and Jenner’s is not Jennings’. That’s why they each deserve to have their respective sides told. That’s why both deserve to be viewed. But, as they always remind us, it’s not about them, it’s about every one of us learning to accept the differences found in one another.