Call Her Caitlyn: How Transphobic Attitudes Towards Caitlyn Jenner Impact the Transgender Community

In the last year the media has become obsessed with Caitlyn Jenner: her transition has been on the front of magazines everywhere and she has been heralded as the 'face of the trans community', as well as 'Woman of the Year 2015'. Titles such as these have been criticised as being undeserved and insulting to cisgender women by some commentators. However, Caitlyn Jenner did not nominate herself for 'Woman of the Year' and she did not put herself forward to be the face of the trans community. She just happens to have been thrown into the limelight due to her public presence and celebrity status. It is important to remember that she did not ask for the pedestal for which she has been placed. The transphobic insults that have been specifically aimed at Jenner do not simply affect her, they affect the transgender community worldwide.

It is also completely acceptable to dislike Caitlyn Jenner. It is fine to disagree with her statement: "The hardest thing about being a woman is figuring out what to wear" (a statement which may be her personal view, a joke taken too seriously or even a way to dispel the hateful comments aimed at her).  Who knows the true meaning behind the statement! At the end of the day everyone faces different experiences and challenges in life and everyone has different opinions. You don't have to support her views but you should use her correct personal pronoun and stop suggesting that she isn’t a 'real' woman.

The transphobic comments aimed at Jenner highlight the intolerance that is still present in today's society. Comments like "she won because she has balls", "what an insult to actual WOMEN", "If this is who he wants to be so be it...but keep it private man...oops or is that woman?" These comments not only undermine Caitlyn's identity by refusing to use the personal pronoun ‘she’, they also display transmisogyny and essentialist ideas of gender. This does not just insult Jenner; it insults the entire transgender community. Those that may fear to tell anyone of the struggles they are facing may see these comments, which can make it even harder to tell their friends and family out of fear they will not be accepted. Others will see these comments and be reminded of the transphobia they may have experienced themselves and their own struggles for acceptance.

2015 has been a year in which we have seen some transgender Americans reaching success and raising awareness worldwide. More trans voices have been heard and many people have spoken out in support of the trans community to raise awareness of trans issues. Overall, this has been positive, serving to highlight the fact that everybody should be treated equally and demand the same respect, regardless of their gender identity. However, despite the increasing awareness of trans issues, there is no doubt that the past few years have been traumatic for the transgender community.

According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, 22 transgender people have been murdered in the past year. Whilst this may be the reported figure, according to the Transgender Day of Remembrance website, there have been at least 89 transphobic murders so far in 2015. Laverne Cox, a high profile transgender American actress, has spoken out about the murder rates stating: "We in the transgender community right now are reeling."

Additionally, a shocking survey from the US has shown that 41% of trans people have attempted suicide. 46% of trans suicide attempts were by trans men and 42% of trans women. Age also has played a part in transgender suicide attempts with 45% between 18-24 and between 25-44. Native Americans had the highest rate by race/ethnicity with 56% with multiracial or mixed at 54%.  

It is important to note that these suicides are not the result of transgender people failing to adjust to their new lives but the result of transphobic attitudes that stop trans people being accepted by their friends, families and the general community. The high attempted suicide rates can hopefully begin to be reduced by educating the public about transgender issues and encouraging individuals to be supportive and accepting.