Caitlyn Jenner's heartfelt apology after her offensive 'man in a dress' remark.

Last week, Caitlyn Jenner messed up. Big.

While discussing what makes "a good image" during an interview with Time, the Olympian and trans activist said she works very hard on her "presentation" because she doesn't want to make others uncomfortable by looking like "a man in a dress."

Yeaaah ... no.


Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Nederlander.

"One thing that has always been important for me, and it may seem very self-absorbed or whatever, is first of all your presentation of who you are. I think it’s much easier for a trans woman or a trans man who authentically kind of looks and plays the role. So what I call my presentation. I try to take that seriously. I think it puts people at ease. If you’re out there and, to be honest with you, if you look like a man in a dress, it makes people uncomfortable. So the first thing I can do is try to present myself well. I want to dress well. I want to look good." — Caitlyn Jenner, Time, Dec. 9, 2015

As you can imagine, the backlash was swift and critical, prompting Jenner to respond (which I'll get to in a moment).

But, unfortunately, it's not the first time she dropped the ball.

In August, Jenner failed to understand why it's critical that social programs are made available for the trans community. The following month, she claimed to be "in on the joke" when it came to an offensive Caitlyn Jenner Halloween costume that mocked the transgender experience. And remember that time she gave a wishy-washy response regarding her support for same-sex marriage (which was a little odd coming from an LGBT activist)?

Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for The Point Foundation.

Many fans were frustrated with her most recent blunder and rightfully so. In large part due to her reality TV fame, Jenner is one of the most visible trans activists out there — her words, and the messages behind them, matter.

Jenner's "man in a dress" remark is a problem for a few important reasons.

First of all, she implied it's valid for someone to feel uncomfortable by another person's expression of gender.

It's not anyone's job to make me feel comfortable around them through their gender expression. It is my job, however, to accept everyone — cis, trans, or otherwise — regardless of how they look or where they fall on the spectrum of gender.

Secondly, no matter what someone looks like — even like a "man in a dress" — they're deserving of the same respect as any other person.

Plenty of people choose to express themselves in ways that don't conform to the binary, the "man" vs. "woman" society we (unfortunately) live in. And that's not only just OK, that rocks. Our world is a diverse one — let's embrace it.

And thirdly, Jenner's comment shows her privilege as someone with the financial means to express herself however she feels fit.

Many trans people lack access to the health care (and teams of hair, makeup, and clothing stylists) needed to help them appear how they wish to look. And, considering how costly medical procedures can be, many can't pay out of pocket. The statement from Jenner — who clearly doesn't share this problem — was pretty tone deaf.

Fortunately, Jenner realized she messed up and apologized.

And this time, she hit the nail on the head.

In a blog post published Dec. 14, 2015, Jenner made sure to right her wrong and "promise[d] to keep learning" in the years ahead.

"I think I caused a lot of hurt with this comment, and I’m truly sorry."

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

Jenner poignantly touched on how she dropped the ball on all the points mentioned above (really, you should read the post), but here's one particularly important tidbit:

"I am only one person. There are a lot of ways of being trans. And I want to help create a world in which people are able to express their gender in any way that is true and authentic for them. And most importantly — a world in which how a trans person is treated isn’t dependent on how they look."

Yes, Jenner has had some harmful — not to mention cringeworthy — moments during the fight for equality.

And each and every time she fumbles the ball, we should make note of it. (After all, it comes with the territory of being a leader.)

But we should also applaud her when she makes an effort to make things right.

"I am guessing this is probably not the last time I will say the wrong thing, or say something the wrong way," she wrote.

"I promise to keep learning, and to try to be more articulate in the future. We have a lot of hard work to do. I am looking forward to doing it together."

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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Researchers at Harvard University have studied the connection between spanking and kids' brain development for the first time, and their findings echo what studies have indicated for years: Spanking isn't good for children.

Comments on this article will no doubt be filled with people who a) say they were spanked and "turned out fine" or b) say that the reason kids are [fill in the blank with some societal ill] these days are because they aren't spanked. However, a growing body of research points to spanking creating more problems than it solves.

"We know that children whose families use corporal punishment are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, behavior problems, and other mental health problems, but many people don't think about spanking as a form of violence," said Katie A. McLaughlin, director of the Stress & Development Lab in the Department of Psychology, and the senior researcher on the study which was published Friday in the journal Child Development. "In this study, we wanted to examine whether there was an impact of spanking at a neurobiological level, in terms of how the brain is developing."

You can read the entire study here, but the gist is that kids' brain activity was measured using an MRI machine as they reacted to photos of actors displaying "fearful" and "neutral" faces. What researchers found was that kids who had been spanked had similar brain neural responses to fearful faces as kids who had been abused.

"There were no regions of the brain where activation to fearful relative to neutral faces differed between children who were abused and children who were spanked," the authors wrote in a statement.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less