Five of the Most Important Tweets in the recent #CallMeCaitlyn Discussion

by / 6 Comments / 131 View / June 14, 2015

Since Caitlyn Jenner – formerly Bruce Jenner of Olympic and reality-TV fame – premiered her new identity with a Vanity Fair Cover on June 1st, the article’s titular hastag, #CallMeCaitlyn, has been trending on Twitter, with the story infiltrating nearly every other media channel as well. In spite of the fact that the issue featuring the full-length cover story won’t hit newsstands until June 9th, reactions to the cover itself varied, from the blatantly transphobic to the effusively supportive. Most significantly, the preliminary release of the cover – and a preview of the story on Vanity Fair’s website – provided a moment for the nation to discuss transgender issues, with several essential points floating to the top of the Twitter stratosphere.

1 & 2) The Importance of Acknowledging Transgender Healthcare Issues

According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, Obama’s Affordable Care Act (2010) “banned sex discrimination in most health care …  While we still desperately need national laws that explicitly prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation, existing laws such as the Affordable Care Act can provide real protections in many circumstances.” However, as the Center and other Twitter respondents have pointed out, legal protections specifically geared toward protecting transgender healthcare rights are not exceedingly prevalent, and have existed only at the city and state levels, if at all. Pennsylvania, for example, just this past February introduced its “first-ever transgender specific civil rights bill” in the state’s history, The Transgender Health Benefits Act HB304, which is “based on a piece of Philadelphia legislation that allows for transition related healthcare for government workers, but the state bill covers public, as well as private and Medicaid plans.”

3) Acknowledging a Transgender Identity is Difficult, But Even More so for Minorities 

Elle Hearns of Ebony pointed out that Jenner’s privilege as “an elder, white, rich trans woman” renders her story only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to discussing trans issues: “This year, there have been no less than 9 reported murders of trans women of color in the United States. You won’t find these women, these victims, on magazine covers and the ones who survive won’t be on Diane Sawyer’s couch either. While we celebrate the bravery of Caitlin Jenner, we must acknowledge that unlike her peers, she will never be fired from her job because she came out as trans and she is far less likely to be murdered than a Black trans woman. She will never be forced by lack of access to perform sex work or face homelessness.”

4) Educators Need To Be Prepared to Lead the Discussions #CallMeCaitlyn Will Spark 


 

In order for the Caitlyn Jenner cover story to constitute more than just a media-hyped moment of transgender awareness, the discussion needs to continue. For better or for worse, #CallMeCaitlyn may be the entry point into the first discussion some millennials will have about the trans community, especially in an academic setting. Ensuring that such a formative conversation is informed one, then, is imperative, and educators at every level – from middle school to grad school – should be prepared to lead the discussion with resources such as these.

 

5) Media Representations of Trans Women Need to Be Diversified – Not Just in Terms of Race or Socioeconomic Status, But Also in Terms of Appearance

 

 

Featured on a June 2014 Time cover as a celebrity trans activist, the Orange Is The New Black star took to her Tumblr page to elaborate on the Vanity Fair cover, congratulating Jenner as well as making an extremely important call to diversify media representations of the trans community: “Now, there are many trans folks because of genetics and/or lack of material access who will never be able to embody [cisnormative female] standards. More importantly many trans folks don’t want to embody them and we shouldn’t have to … be seen as ourselves and respected as ourselves. It is important to note that these standards are also info[r]med by race, class and ability among other intersections. I have always been aware that I can never represent all trans people. No one or two or three trans people can. This is why we need diverse media represent[a]tions of trans folks to multiply trans narratives in the media and depict our beautiful diversities.”

  • Jack Carlyle

    “But then the media ran insane over it. Countless articles showing not just Drake Bell’s tweet, but countless other tweets that responded to him. Then articles that talked about how “using the wrong pronoun is violence” indicting several typically conservative members of the media to a charge of direct systematic oppression (more on this later in the next read). Every publication fronted this as the cover issue (mainly ones discussing social issues), and then came the response that this wasn’t the biggest victory because Caitlyn Jenner had privilege in society. My tone indicates derision, and it is derision, but not for the reason you may think.”

    ^Funny how this article was published right after the founder of the ugtimes criticized the media for doing (more or less) what this article does…

    • Mathew Pregasen

      Actually no – this is our first article on Caitlyn Jenner, and I was clear that it isn’t an issue to be ignored, just an issue that shouldn’t be overhyped. Furthermore, this submission was published a full week late due to a Editing File Box error – we, however, honored the submission regardless from one of our choice writers.

      • Mich Shepherd

        So I decided to read your article to figure out what this comment thread was about and tbh I agree with Jack.

        Your answer makes no sense…your article specifically calls out people who took the cover as an issue of privilege, which 3 of the 5 sections in the above article talk about…Also, I’m not sure why this being your first article on Caitlyn Jenner makes a difference when your article criticizes all popular media collectively for publishing so many pieces on the social reaction to the cover.

        And then I would say you’re kind of being a hypocrite…you demand that people write pieces about more pressing issues like Accra but the last two pieces published on this site just criticize the media and then bring up the Caitlyn Jenner story again.

        • Mathew Pregasen

          Hey Mich,

          I understand your concern but a few things to note.

          First, I should have prefaced my original comment with the statement that my personal views and The Undergraduate Times diverge – while I founded The Undergraduate Times, I am in no means the person that rules what is and what isn’t published: we have an open end policy because we are primarily dedicated to amplifying undergraduate voices. As a consequence, if there is a conflation, I cannot call that hypocrisy; just as if I said X law was good and another writer said it was bad.

          Second, do note that this publication should have been published days and days ago, just after the event broke news. It was an error, primarily one of mine, that led to the file being lost, hence the delayed publication. Again, we only covered this issue once, and to say it isn’t an important issue/not worth covering would be entirely false. My criticism was at Vox, HuffPost, DailyKos etc. that wrote 5-20 articles on one topic while turning blind eyes to others. Unlike those mentioned above, large multinational million-dollar publications, our youth and size at the UGT isn’t fitted to cover all international news. I encourage an earlier read of mine regarding the state of the UGT, our size limitations, and near goals for the future, but as of now, we do not have the capacity to act as an engine of media at the size of the big name ones, yet: http://ugtimes.com/2015/04/featured/one-year-in/

          This comment is important because I do not want to conflate the UGT as my personal media hub. I am in no ways the political agent that fuels it; I have political views and those views may be represented by the UGT but not define it. If I rejected this article on the sole criterion of my own article, not only would I be suppressing a rather talented writer, but also giving unfair due because of the editing flow mistake that was made.

          If you, or anyone reading this thread, is interested in contributing stories, especially those uncovered that I criticize as not getting fair due, I would highly encourage and love for you to join the UGT (as long as you are an undergraduate!). As per our size and peculiar structure, holding us to the same standard as other major, well-funded media agents is rather unfair.

    • #CallMeBatman

      lol

    • $chooled.

      you got $CHOOLED