By Jess Reedy, Guest Blogger
Caitlyn Jenner has officially declared her presence in the world. She has shown us who she is by posing for the cover of Vanity Fair. She has connected with us by creating a twitter account. And she’s using her voice in a docu-series planning to launch in July.
The great thing about having a celebrity willing to publicly share this experience is that it gets conversations happening in a big way. And whether you like it or not, Caitlyn is everywhere! But with all these discussions going on around you, you might feel that at times you aren’t sure of what to say. So let’s chat about it together!
Sex & Gender:
Your sex is what identifies you as male or female. Your sex has to do with your reproductive organs, your anatomy, and your hormones. However, gender is how you identify and/or express yourself. A person might feel that their sex identifies them one way, but their gender identifies them in the other. It’s also important to note that having a different gender identity does not always affect your sexual orientation. Transgender people can any sexuality.
Before June 1, Bruce had asked to still be called “Bruce” and to be referred to as “he.” However, now that he is identifying as Caitlyn, he has asked that everyone else see him that way also. So what that means for us is that we use the feminine form of pronouns when discussing Caitlyn and respect that she’d no longer like to be “Bruce”. If you’re ever uncertain as to what pronouns to use when referring to someone, just ask! I’m sure they’ll be more appreciative that you asked their preference, rather than speaking of them incorrectly. You can say something like, “What pronoun would you like me to use?” or “Am I referring to you correctly?”
Embrace the Present:
Part of respecting someone’s decision to express themselves more authentically is to try and understand that this is probably not a new feeling for them. So if we change the pronouns to more accurately describe a person, we should use the new pronoun to explain that person’s past as well, unless asked otherwise. So using Caitlyn as an example, we would want to say, “She was an Olympic athlete,” even though at the time we knew her as “Bruce.” We would now talk about her entire life as Caitlyn, again, unless asked otherwise. We should also make an effort to refrain from saying things like “formerly Bruce Jenner” and just embrace the person Caitlyn is. I’m sure it took a lot of courage for her to show herself to the world, so let’s allow her to really own the spotlight rather than having to share it with Bruce.
And if you get it wrong, it’s OK
It’s ok to not get it right every time. And it is ok to ask questions. As long as you are respecting the feelings of others and interacting with kindness, then you are doing the best you can! Don’t be so worried about speaking perfectly that you forget to actually engage in meaningful conversations. Keep being THAT GIRL and I’m sure you’ll do fine!
Let's chat! Have you been exposed to more conversations about the transgender community lately? Have you ever been at a loss for words? Tell us about it here!
Jess is a business owner and IATG chapter leader in Wilmington NC where she teaches yoga and pottery. She loves the beach, her dog, and people who feel like soul sisters. She also considers herself a professional at brunch.
images via vox.com and reflexivities.hypotheses.org