I Am Cait Needs To Address These Issues

If the Vanity Fair cover was her christening and the ESPYs her coronation, then I Am Cait will show us what to make of Queen Caitlyn, who now reigns upon Trans-Camelot. As we await Sunday night’s series premiere on E!, here are five things the world — and the transgender community in particular — is longing to see:

1. Life After The Royal Treatment.
Caitlyn has been out in full force, and frankly, she's fabulous. Gowns and corsets are valid elements of the femme identity she expresses, but show us how she lives day-to-day once her carriage reverts to a pumpkin. This is a tall order for someone who is 6'2” and stalked by paparazzi, let alone your own camera crew, but nobody can be “on” all the time. Too many folks honestly believe trans women go back to being guys once the heels come off. She has nothing to prove to anyone, yet could prove them wrong anyway.

2. “It’s good to be the King.”
Mel Brooks said it best. Nobody denies the humble origins of the dyslexic kid from working-class Westchester, but what followed were the Games, endorsements, telecasts, and her very public evolution in gender. Our queen of common birth now reigns from a secluded Malibu mountaintop — one she has ascended through a life of hard work, but it shapes the options available to her. Rather than reinforce the critique that affluence affords her medical procedures, fine clothing, and handlers, she could show that being trans affects people of all walks, regardless of income potential, and that wealth cannot protect you from the anguish it causes. Notoriety only locked her in further.

3. Royal Family Matters.
Celebrities, like royals, are infinitely more intriguing in the context of family affairs — especially when ratings are on the line. Caitlyn gets this, but family’s importance digs deeper. A phrase commonly repeated within the trans discussion is doing “what makes us happy.” Conquering gender dysphoria does not itself make you happy; it gives you the best possible chance at happiness. Jenner has herself admitted to not having been the better parent and spouse she longed to be. I Am Cait might show us that it is never too late to reinvent yourself, to find happiness not only as a woman, but as a matriarch and grandmother. It remains to be seen if and how her children or stepchildren will be involved, but she could teach family acceptance as the expectation rather than exception.

4. The Valley Below.
A noble Queen must entertain her subjects’ entreaties. Trans-Camelot is a vast realm of gender identities intersected indiscriminately with sexual orientation, education, race, and even legal status. Go watch the movie Tangerine, about the trans-sex workers of her own valley — in this case, Los Angeles — just a short drive beyond her palatial gates. If Caitlyn tells the stories of transmen, non-binary folk, trans people of color, or undocumented queer immigrants, her show has the power to amplify these voices.

5. Caitlyn the Stateswoman...
Modern-day monarchs have ceded ruling responsibilities, yet retain special relationships with those who do. Caitlyn is a self-proclaimed conservative. It will be exciting to see if she uses her throne to shape policy. For too long, transgender individuals have been marginalized by a social agenda upon which Democrats were predominantly tepid and Republicans predominantly wrong. Her voice could refute those claiming religious freedoms in order to discriminate. Even if she stuck to a single tour de force issue —like inclusivity in the sports world — her credibility could spur change everywhere from after-school kickball through the International Olympic Committee.

Lastly, here’s what the world doesn't need to see: 1. What’s in her pants. 2. Who’s in her pants.

Hannah Simpson is a medical student, writer, and appeared in Refinery29’s Trans America series. She frequently appears as a commenter on trans issues and was recently featured as a guest with Melissa Harris-Perry on MSNBC, as well as on Fox 5 (WNYW) Good Day New York. You can follow her on Twitter at @hannsimp.


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