How Caitlyn Jenner’s Mother Reacted to Meeting Her for the First Time

27 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘I hope I get it right': Caitlyn Jenner shoulders new duty as I Am Cait debuts.

Though Caitlyn Jenner has already introduced herself to the world, Sunday night’s premiere of her new reality show I Am Cait captured her first introductions to many of her family members.

With exclusive footage and interviews, this documentary shows how Vanity Fair’s editors and Caitlyn Jenner collaborated on her culture-shifting debut.”You should just come over at a time when I know she’s there and I’ll just pick out an outfit for her to wear and I’ll say, ‘Oh my god, I’m gonna take you to dinner. She couldn’t sleep because she was so anxious about the now-iconic cover reveal, but once it hit the Internet, she received nothing but positive responses. EDT on E!) opens with the former Bruce Jenner, her ample tresses in huge rollers, at home getting hair-and-makeup treatment as she beholds a giant blowup of her bombshell Vanity Fair cover that followed her April interview with Diane Sawyer.

The gold medal-winning Olympian is shown sitting up in bed, dressed in a robe with no make-up, looking anxious and preoccupied. “I feel bad that especially young people are going through such a difficult time in their life,” says Jenner, 65. “We don’t want people dying for this. The moment the pair laid eyes on one another, the elder Jenner beamed and enveloped her daughter in a hug. “It’s OK,” Caitlyn told her mother, to which Esther responded, “I knew it would be.” Over the course of the episode, however, the pair sat down to hash out the emotions that lay beneath the surface. Now, in this new documentary by Jeremy Elkin for VF.com, Jenner, Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter, and the magazine’s staff reflect on putting the story together, keeping it under wraps in the hacking-scandal era, and unleashing it to a response that was even more overwhelming than expected. Obviously, Caitlyn (formerly known as Bruce) was incredibly famous on her own, winning the decathlon gold medal at the 1976 Olympics and becoming known as the greatest athlete in the world.

The first hour of the show went from tense to happy to tearful and back again — a much more serious affair than the typical episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians. And, typical of celeb-reality shows, there isn’t a scene in this first of eight episodes that doesn’t seem stage-managed to push the starry uber-narrative along. She admitted that it’s going to be difficult, as she put it, “for me to think of you as ‘she’ and to say ‘Caitlyn’ when I want to speak with you or call your attention.” But her attitude, more than anything, was one of resolve to do the work she needs to do to come to terms with her daughter’s new life. “I loved him with all my heart, and I certainly love her with all my heart.”

Moments after wrapping her session with Leibovitz, Jenner reflects: “You look at some of the people, the [transgender] pioneers who tried to get the message out. That is, until she met ex-wife Kris Kardashian, who thrust the entire family in the spotlight, from covers of magazines to landing a reality show on E! My mind’s just spinning with thoughts.” Americans had the chance to reach their own conclusions about these questions with the launch of the E! docu-series on Sunday night. They are seen in a cameo appearance that plays as unintended comic relief, with Kardashian never doffing her floor-length coat (she blames her modesty on her pregnancy, yet it smacks more of, “I don’t show my body except for my own projects”) and with West explaining that his shoelaces are untied because they’re unnecessary since his shoes are really slippers (“the laces are sort of after the fact”).

She caught her first reflection of “Caitlyn”—in full hair, makeup, and clothing—in a mirror positioned behind her during the photo shoot. “From a distance, I looked in the mirror and thought, Oh my God,” she said. “It’s the first time I really saw an image of me, who I am.” Jenner says the image assured her: “This is going to work. . . . One of Caitlyn’s goals is to show how coming out as a transgender woman affects her family, through the good and the bad, and she’s particularly concerned about the well-being of her kids. Such interludes undercut the dignity of Jenner’s challenges, and make what she is going through arguably less relatable to an audience that needs to relate. Jenner’s carefully choreographed public rollout as a trans woman – in a Diane Sawyer ABC News interview, then on the cover of Vanity Fair, followed by her first public appearance at the ESPY awards – was denounced by some as a publicity campaign to keep her star in the ascendant. But despite the fact that the 88-year-old will need time to get used to calling Caitlyn by the right name and using the correct gender pronouns, she had beautiful things to say every time she reflected on the transition. “It’s a lot of getting used to, but I will,” she said. “You have the same soul you were born with,” she told Caitlyn.

Says Carter, “It’s a way that a magazine cover [still works] and you can use the Internet rather than fight the Internet on a big story.” The magazine did, however, have to take special security precautions to protect its exclusive. “The photos and text were put onto one computer that was off-line,” explains associate managing editor Ellen Kiell. “Each day, the designer, copy editor, researcher would work on that one computer.” When it came time to deliver the feature to the printer, Kiell flew to Lexington, Kentucky, to personally hand-deliver the finished product. But that’s where Kim Kardashian and her superstar rapper husband Kanye West arrive — in a surprising twist, they are the family ambassadors charged with representing the Kardashians during Caitlyn’s first episode.

The first glimpse of Caitlyn that Kylie saw was via FaceTime after having dental work done, and Caitlyn was so nervous that she kept pointing her phone’s camera away from her own face. With “Cait,” she will have a weekly pulpit and a guaranteed flock to whom she knows how to deliver her message loud and clear. “The tremendous amount of support that I’ve gotten has been overwhelming, but you also have to realize that it’s not this way for everybody,” she takes pains to point out. Jenner projected herself as someone profoundly aware that amid the splendor of her $3.5m Malibu home – with guests like Kanye West casually popping round – she bears a huge responsibility towards other trans people less fortunate than herself. “I feel tremendous responsibility here because I have a voice and there are so many trans people out there who do not have a voice,” she said in words that will resonate with her new-found community. While 17-year-old Kylie Jenner had a very touching scene where she bonds with Caitlyn, Kim and Kanye’s appearance was so Kim and Kanye, and it shows how the family will fit in future episodes: A mix of emotional moments but also typical Kardashian ridiculousness.

Certainly, Jenner has had it easy compared to many transgender women and men who struggle with extraordinary levels of attempted suicide and violence. With no worries over money or access to medical treatment, her experience is far from that of so many individuals suffering from gender dysphoria – the sensation that identity and physical form are out of sync. The secrecy worked, and the feature gracefully launched Caitlyn as the elegant, inspiring, authentic person she had spent decades struggling to become.

At first, Kanye stands grinning on the sidelines as Kim raves about Caitlyn’s look: “You know, the one thing I’m really shocked about is how skinny you are,” Kim assesses. “You literally look like Kendall. Marveling how her coming-out story eclipses all of Bruce’s achievements—Olympic gold medal included—Jenner says tearfully, “I never thought that someday I would be able to do this.” Like Kendall’s mom.” Then Kanye pipes up: “I mean I think this is one of the strongest things that have happened in our existence as human beings that are so controlled by perception,” he tells Caitlyn. “‘Cause you couldn’t have been up against more. The growing strength of her opinions reflect the learning curve she has been on, exposed as she has been to a steady stream of letters from trans women sharing with her their struggles and hardships.

They then traveled to a beautiful beachside park where they released balloons in Kyler’s honor and Caitlyn spoke to friends of the late teen who’d also contemplated suicide. “Seek help,” Caitlyn said. “You just have to get through the day.” That struggle is real and I’ve been there.” The camera followed Jenner as she dodged paparazzi seeking to grab pictures of Caitlyn worth $250,000 a shot as the star made a visit to the family of Kyler Prescott, a trans boy who killed himself at the age of 14 on 18 May.

But now, with some new clothes by Tom Ford and Diane Von Furstenberg, Kim is satisfied. “Secretly dying?” Caitlyn asks, remembering Kim’s loud objections. Then she pulls out a little black dress that she really loves — only to be informed by Kim that her mom, Kris Jenner, has one exactly like it in chocolate brown. They even devise a plan where she’ll trick Kris into wearing the dress, and then invite Caitlyn over. “Wouldn’t that be the funniest thing ever?” Caitlyn exclaims. Probably not to the many viewers who can imagine that unbelievably awkward scenario — but to the Kardashians, that’s just the sort of wacky prank they pull.

She stole the show with her honesty, her palpable discomfort at her child’s new identity clashing powerfully with her determination to remain a loyal and loving mother.

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