With ‘I Am Cait,’ a new chapter unfolds

24 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

4 challenges trans people face that you won’t see on ‘I Am Cait’.

Just look at the careful choreography behind Bruce Jenner’s transformation in to Caitlyn, culminating in the launch of her E! reality series, I Am Cait (Sunday, 8 p.m. The monumental attention paid to the transition of Bruce Jenner to Caitlyn Jenner has made a long-simmering issue a hot topic in human resource seminars: It isn’t necessary to go into physical details about where her — or anyone’s — transition stands.AP This picture, taken by Annie Leibovitz exclusively for Vanity Fair, shows the cover of the magazine’s July 2015 issue featuring Bruce Jenner debuting as a transgender woman named Caitlyn Jenner. With the help of power publicist Alan Nierob, whom Variety dubbed “the secret mastermind” behind Jenner’s transformation, she has mounted a stunningly orchestrated media campaign. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration this summer issued workplace guidance on that point: “A person who identifies as a man should be permitted to use the men’s restrooms, and a person who identifies as a woman should be permitted to use women’s restrooms.” Some states, including Colorado, Iowa, Washington, Vermont and Delaware, along with the District of Columbia, have passed specific legislation concerning transgender individual’s restroom rights.

Despite the furor last month over Jenner’s glamorous coming out Vanity Fair photo as Caitlyn, she still has a way to go to keep up with Kim Kardashian – her reality queen step-daughter – in terms of popular appeal, according to marketing experts. “In New York and California, she (Jenner) has become a very accepted story. As a trans person, I am immensely grateful for this moment in which many people are, for the first time, seeing a transgender person as exactly that: a real person, instead of as a bad joke in a sitcom or a fetishized object in porn. Then the Olympian posed in a corset for Annie Leibovitz as Vanity Fair’s July cover girl, and set a new record — four hours and three minutes — for reaching 1 million followers on Twitter, besting President Obama ) and Robert Downey Jr.(She now has 2.68 million).

Just three days after OSHA issued its workplace restroom guidance it filed a sex discrimination lawsuit against a Minnesota employer that allegedly denied a transgender employee access to a women’s restroom. With “I Am Cait” set to make its premiere on E! television on Sunday, the market research firm E-Score, which tracks the popularity of some 8,000 celebrities, said this week that Jenner is liked by 23 percent of those it surveyed and disliked by 34 percent. People are unsure about Jenner’s motives for the show, said Gerry Philpott, CEO of E-Poll Market Research, which produces E-Score. “They will be looking to see if she is exploiting the transition for publicity and money or is sincere in her efforts to present transgender issues.” Kim Kardashian, perhaps the world’s best-known reality TV star thanks to “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” has 32 million Twitter followers and estimated earnings last year of $52 million, according to Forbes. When speaking to Janet Mock about Jenner, Laverne Cox very succinctly said: “I think it’s important to note that this is just one story; that [Caitlyn’s] story is very specific; most trans people don’t have that kind of privilege, don’t have the kind of privilege that I have or you have.” Jenner’s story is filled with moments that many trans people can relate to, but she’s had benefits and privileges many trans people could never dream of. Human resource officers acknowledge a sensitive balancing act in accommodating transgender restroom preferences: Many employees are just plain uncomfortable about it.

Trailers for the series depict Jenner applying makeup in her Malibu home, speaking about gender identity and contemplating life outside her SUV’s tinted windows. “Isn’t it great that maybe someday you’ll be normal? But both sides appear to be biding their time. “This is new territory,” said Jeetendr Sehdev, professor of marketing at the University of Southern California. “We don’t know whether Caitlyn Jenner is going to influence people to purchase or whether she is going to alienate people.

Leading up to the show, Jenner’s revelations have been doled out Kardashians-style: slowly, and designed to dominate the celebrity news cycle week by week. That is where brands are being very cautious at the moment.” In 1977, after winning an Olympic gold medal for the decathlon, Bruce Jenner graced the Wheaties box and became a spokesman for the cereal.

And 33 of the 50 states have no state-level gender identity protection, meaning in over half of the U.S. it is perfectly legal for employers to fire trans employees based solely on their being transgender. Nearly half of trans people report having been fired, denied employment or denied promotion for being trans, and 90% of trans people report being harassed at work for being transgender. Among them, she said, employers shouldn’t “require medical or legal documentation to substantiate an employee’s use of a certain restroom.” And, TenBrook wrote, employers shouldn’t “allow third parties’ preferences to guide your decision on gender identity issues. As with discrimination on any basis, employees’ and customers’ stereotypes are not legitimate reasons to discriminate against anyone.” That acknowledges, of course, that preferences can be strong.

It’s unrealistic for everyone to have a home like Jenner’s $3.6 million Malibu mountaintop estate, but it is realistic for everyone to want to have a home. And potential pitfalls await. “It’s very dangerous for people to take on the self appointed role of being the spokesperson for the transgender community,” he says. “Because a lot of those in the transgender community do not believe she is representative of their struggles.” Department of Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in a memo that a plan was in the works to lift an “outdated” ban on military service by transgender individuals “that’s contrary to our value of service and individual merit.” To make matters of homelessness even worse, shelters frequently refuse transgender people or force them to stay in facilities that do not match their gender.

Prior to her Vanity Fair cover, Caitlyn Jenner was able to afford hormone replacement therapy (HRT), a tracheal shave, breast augmentation and facial feminization surgery. If you’re responsible for hiring in your organization or are a landlord, reach out to the trans community in your area and see if there are trans people in need of work or housing, particularly if you live in an area that is hostile to trans people. Especially if you’re a service provider, understanding and working to remove barriers trans people might experience while interacting with your organization helps a ton.

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