Caitlyn Jenner, formerly known as Bruce, has stunned the world with her beautiful Vanity Fair cover and is now “finally free”.
According to Channel24, the former athlete, who has now joined Twitter as @Caitlyn_Jenner, had an emotional two-day photoshoot for the magazine with Annie Leibovitz after undergoing surgery to make her face appear more feminine.
The cover comes after Caitlyn sat down with Diane Sawyer in April to talk about her transition in a two-hour interview and revealed that she is a woman and the difficulties she has faced on her journey so far, including having to tell her family.
#CallMeCaitlyn has had an amazing response on social media platforms, from the general public and celebrities alike.
But, even though so many people are being positive about Caitlyn’s transition and trying to do the appropriate thing and respect her boundaries and wishes, many misconceptions abound. GLAAD also released a tip sheet to help those unsure of how to report on or address the issue.
Here are a few things you should be aware of, just in case you’re not:
Transitioning is hard
For the person who decides to transition, for their family and friends; it’s a difficult time. The decision to finally come out and accept that their gender is different to the one they were born with is not an easy one. It is a new identity. A new life. A new way of being. Also, it is not a choice. It is a way of life. Read more about one woman’s journey, here.
Pronouns are important
Caitlyn says she isn’t “hung up” about pronouns, but some trans men and women prefer to be known by certain pronouns, and it is always best to refer to the transgender person’s acknowledged gender identity. Caitlyn says she is a woman, so refer to her as she. Use transgender as an adjective, says GLAAD, so refer to Caitlyn as a transgender woman, and never use the term transgendered.
It’s not funny
To cis-gender people (those who identify with the sex they were born as), someone who willingly chooses to acknowledge their gender identity as different from the one they were born with, is outside the norm. This can be disconcerting, especially if the cis-people in question have never come into contact with someone who identifies as transgender. And, with us all being human, our first response is usually laughter. We’re uncomfortable with the situation, so we make jokes to ease the tension. This is the wrong way to deal with it. Being trans is not a joke. It is a difficult journey that many people don’t make through, which becomes harder when there are people pointing and laughing at their plight. Be a good person. Don’t make fun of what you don’t understand.
Gender identity and sexual orientation are NOT the same thing
Gender identity is exactly that – the gender someone identifies with. Sexual orientation is who someone is attracted to (which can be a complicated question, but not one we’ll address here). The two should not be confused. Just because someone chooses to change their gender identity, or come out about it to their loved ones, does not mean that their sexual orientation changes. According to this article previously published on Women24, transgender people, just like cis-gendered people, can have any sexual orientation they want.