More

Caitlyn Jenner: 'I'm a woman.' The former world's greatest athlete comes out.

"For all intents and purposes, I'm a woman." Caitlyn Jenner opens up about a decades-long struggle with gender dysphoria.

Caitlyn Jenner: 'I'm a woman.'  The former world's greatest athlete comes out.

UPDATE 6/1/15: This post was originally published on April 24, 2015 after Jenner spoke to ABC's Diane Sawyer. It has since been up to reflect Caitlyn's name and proper pronouns as announced on the cover of Vanity Fair on June 1, 2015.

On April 24, 2015, in an interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer, Caitlyn Jenner came out as a transgender woman.

In a powerful two-hour interview, Jenner opened up about a lifetime of wrestling with a gender that never quite fit. For the first time, publicly, Jenner said the words, "For all intents and purposes, I am a woman."


On June 1, 2015, Caitlyn Jenner appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair.


Jenner has been a household name since winning the gold medal in the 1976 Olympic decathlon.

Jenner was known by many as the "greatest athlete on earth" and was one of the first people to land a spot on the front of a Wheaties box. Jenner became an American hero in such a way that only an athlete can.

And more recently, Jenner has been known for the reality TV show "Keeping Up With the Kardashians."

It's important to remember that this is still one person with one very unique set of personal circumstances.

Though it might be tempting to use Jenner as a template for all trans people, doing so wouldn't really be accurate. Trans people are diverse, and what one trans person pursues (medically or socially) another might pass up.

All identities are valid, whether they fit neatly inside the gender binary or not.

Jenner isn't the first public figure to come out, and while none of the people who have come before Jenner have had quite so much name recognition, they all lived openly trans lives.

Christine Jorgensen was a woman who in 1952 became one of the first American women to have undergone a transition-related surgery.

Her face was plastered alongside headlines like "Ex-GI Becomes Blonde Bombshell." Society hadn't really figured out how to talk about trans people just yet.

In 1977, trans tennis player Renée Richards won the right to compete in that year's U.S. Open.

No, she didn't dominate the tennis world. But still, her achievement is important because of the legal precedent it set.

Richards helped pave the way for trans athletes like Chris Mosier, Kye Allums, and Fallon Fox to compete.


In 2009, Chaz Bono came out as a transgender man in an interview with Entertainment Tonight.

He's the son of Cher and Sonny Bono (Holy famous family, Batman!), and prior to coming out, he worked in LGBTQ activism under his birth name. He's arguably one of the world's most famous living trans people (if not the most famous one) and was given a boost when he was cast on a season of "Dancing With the Stars."

Laverne Cox has been on an absolutely meteoric rise to fame.

She was nominated for an Emmy for her role on "Orange Is the New Black," she's the first out trans person to appear on the cover of Time magazine, and she was just named one of People magazine's most beautiful people for 2015!

Her trailblazing ways are opening doors for other trans actors and actresses.

Laura Jane Grace shocked her fan base when she came out during a 2012 interview with Rolling Stone.

For years, she's been the primary singer/songwriter for the band Against Me! and at the age of 32, she came out as a woman. The following year, she and her band released "Transgender Dysphoria Blues," an album of songs with heavy trans overtones.

Every day, it seems like fresh new trans faces are popping up, doing awesome things.

Like Aydian Dowling, a trans man hoping to land on the cover of Men's Health.

Or Jazz Jennings, a trans author, soon-to-be TV star, and model.


Each person has their own path, their own story, and their own life. As you can tell from the list above, those people come from a range of backgrounds, hold a range of political views, and relate to their gender in their own unique way.

This is why invasive personal questions don't really tell the person asking much about trans people as a whole.

*ahem*

So, if this is all stuff that shows how different trans people are from one another, what do we know about them?

For one, we know that trans people who are accepted by their families tend to lead a significantly better life.

One of the biggest fears that many trans people face as they're coming to terms with who they are is that their families will reject them.

According to data from the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, trans people who were accepted by family members were less likely to smoke or abuse drugs and alcohol, less likely to attempt suicide, less likely to have been incarcerated, less likely to have to engage in survival sex work, and significantly less likely to have experienced homelessness.

Now, obviously, there's no telling whether acceptance actually causes those improved circumstances. But those numbers are nothing to scoff at. Acceptance can (and likely does) save lives.

We also know that knowing a trans person increases the likelihood that someone will support trans causes.

This is why visibility is so important! It's less easy to discriminate against someone when you know them.


We know that transition-related health care isn't "cosmetic."

Several health organizations, such as the American Medical Association, have made their stance on trans-related health care clear: It's not elective.

Those who seek it need it.


It's important to remember that there is no "right" way to be transgender.

The boy who knows who he is at age 5 is just as valid as the woman who comes out publicly in her early 30s.

As you can see on the chart below, people figure themselves out at various ages, and they pursue transition — whether it's medical, social, both, or neither — at different ages.

Validity has nothing to do with age.

("MTF" stands for "male-to-female," a term sometimes used to describe transgender women; "FTM" stands for, you guessed it, "female-to-male," a term sometimes used to describe transgender men.)


Validity has nothing to do with medical procedures.

For those who do pursue medical transition — which is to say that they plan to undergo some combination of hormone therapy and/or surgery — the age at which they begin to do so ranges as well (and as you'll note, some don't even want/need it).

62% of trans people surveyed have had hormone therapy, and 23% would like to have it, which leaves 15% of all trans people either uninterested or unable to go on.

Validity has nothing to do with sexual orientation.

And trans people are extremely diverse when it comes to their sexual orientation. (Reminder: Sexual orientation and gender identity are two very separate characteristics.) Check it out:

Congratulations to Caitlyn Jenner for opening up about such a personal issue. May the coming years result in a better understanding of trans individuals, a less hostile world, and respect all around.


True

Anne Hebert, a marketing writer living in Austin, TX, jokes that her closest friends think that her hobby is "low-key harassment for social good". She authors a website devoted entirely to People Doing Good Things. She's hosted a yearly canned food drive with up to 150 people stopping by to donate, resulting in hundreds of pounds of donations to take to the food bank for the past decade.

"I try to share info in a positive way that gives people hope and makes them aware of solutions or things they can do to try to make the world a little better," she said.

For now, she's encouraging people through a barrage of persistent, informative, and entertaining emails with one goal in mind: getting people to VOTE. The thing about emailing people and talking about politics, according to Hebert, is to catch their attention—which is how lice got involved.

"When my kids were in elementary school, I was class parent for a year, which meant I had to send the emails to the other parents. As I've learned over the years, a good intro will trick your audience into reading the rest of the email. In fact, another parent told me that my emails always stood out, especially the one that started: 'We need volunteers for the Valentine's Party...oh, and LICE.'"

Hebert isn't working with a specific organization. She is simply trying to motivate others to find ways to plug in to help get out the vote.

Photo by Phillip Goldsberry on Unsplash

Keep Reading Show less

Empathy. Compassion. Heart-to-heart human connection. These qualities of leadership may not be flashy or loud, but they speak volumes when we see them in action.

A clip of Joe Biden is going viral because it reminds us what that kind of leadership looks like. The video shows a key moment at a memorial service for Chris Hixon, the athletic director at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2018. Hixon had attempted to disarm the gunman who went on a shooting spree at the school, killing 17 people—including Hixon—and injuring 17 more.

Biden asked who Hixon's parents were as the clip begins, and is directed to his right. Hixon's wife introduces herself, and Biden says, "God love you." As he starts to walk away, a voice off-camera says something and Biden immediately turns around. The voice came from Hixon's son, Corey, and the moments that followed are what have people feeling all their feelings.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less
via Witty Buttons / Twitter

Back in 2017, when white supremacist Richard Spencer was socked in the face by someone wearing all black at Trump's inauguration, it launched an online debate, "Is it OK to punch a Nazi?"

The essential nature of the debate was whether it was acceptable for people to act violently towards someone with repugnant reviews, even if they were being peaceful. Some suggested people should confront them peacefully by engaging in a debate or at least make them feel uncomfortable being Nazi in public.

Keep Reading Show less

The English language is constantly evolving, and the faster the world changes, the faster our vocabulary changes. Some of us grew up in an age when a "wireless router" would have been assumed to be a power tool, not a way to get your laptop (which wasn't a thing when I was a kid) connected to the internet (which also wasn't a thing when I was a kid, at least not in people's homes).

It's interesting to step back and look at how much has changed just in our own lifetimes, which is why Merriam-Webster's Time Traveler tool is so fun to play with. All you do is choose a year, and it tells you what words first appeared in print that year.

For my birth year, the words "adult-onset diabetes," "playdate," and "ATM" showed up in print for the first time, and yes, that makes me feel ridiculously old.

It's also fun to plug in the years of different people's births to see how their generational differences might impact their perspectives. For example, let's take the birth years of the oldest and youngest members of Congress:

Keep Reading Show less