I don’t keep up with the Kardsashians, I don’t believe this family needs any more press, but I am a supporter of transpeople. I was so proud of Caitlyn Jenner when her Vanity Fair cover was released, and I’m sure many transgender youth were excited, too. Because of her bravery, Caitlyn was one of a few who received the “Woman of the Year” award from Glamour Magazine.
However, not everyone feels supportive. Widower James Smith, whose wife, Moira, died as a NYPD first responder on Sept. 11, 2001, mailed his award back to Glamour magazine, saying it is “a slap in the face”. Smith further commented on Jenner’s interview with Buzzfeed, “When Jenner said the hardest part of being a woman was figuring out what to wear, he proved to me that he is not truly a woman. I believe this comment he has made trivializes the transgender experience as I have witnessed it.”
What makes James Smith’s comments so interesting to me is that it’s possible to put yourself in his shoes and understand the offense, however there is no reason to discredit your wife’s honor because of Caitlyn. Caitlyn has not lived the “typical” woman experience; she is rich, famous and has not experienced many of the hardships other women have (many claim that because since Caitlyn cannot get pregnant, menstruate, and has everything handed to her, she must not be a ‘real woman’). However, Caitlyn is a woman and the world needs to respect that. Regardless of your behavior or background, if you identify with a gender, it is your human right to not have that questioned further. Rich women are still women; bratty women are still women, infertile women are still women. As Caitlyn also said in her interview with Buzzfeed, “It is more than the hair, makeup, clothes, all that kind of stuff. There’s an element here, that I’m still kind of searching for.” You don’t have to respect Caitlyn, but I don’t believe in calling someone the wrong gender just because I’m upset with them and disagree with their honored courage.
Lastly, the award in question is a Glamour magazine award. It is not a Purple heart, Nobel Peace Prize or a seat in the Oval Office. Glamour magazine has the right to acknowledge and reward many different types of women for multiple reasons. You can certainly disagree with Caitlyn’s definition of a feminine struggle, but sending the award back may have been a bit of an overreaction, it was not a direct insult to Smith’s wife, but rather an acknowledgment that there are many ways to be brave and honorable. Some may express their outrage because Caitlyn has only been a woman for a little while (the “Call Me Caitlyn” Vanity Fair cover came out just this past summer) but I am personally okay with the world reaching out and accepting Caitlyn as a woman. It’s also important to consider the example that acceptance sets for other transfolk who are struggling in their skin. Now is that so bad?