By now we’ve all seen it, a picture of an older woman sitting on a stool with her hands behind her back. She’s smiling slightly and wearing a silky ivory corset. Her hair, a beautiful auburn, drips over the side of her face as her eyes pierce you with confidence. The portrait of this woman graced the cover of Vanity Fair’s newest cover and her name is Caitlyn Jenner.
Jenner has been labeled as sort of an icon for the trans community by some, albeit a source of confusion for many others who saw the person Caitlyn used to be. Everywhere you go there are covers of magazines revealing intimate details of Caitlyn’s life from what her famous family is doing to what she is caught wearing. Clothing being the key topic in many of these articles because there is an assumption that men have men’s clothes and women have women’s. But why can’t clothes just be clothes and people be defined by simply being people?
People often mistake me for the wrong gender. While I identify with being female I gravitate towards a more androgynous style and more masculine clothing and apparently a lot of people are unsettled by this and feel entitled to know “what” I am. I am constantly asked “are you a boy or a girl?” Simply because I choose to keep my hair short and my pants baggy. If I had a dollar for every strange look I got walking into a woman’s restroom, I’d be as rich as Caitlyn Jenner.
As an openly gay woman who chooses to dress more masculine and is continuously hounded with questions of “who are you”, like I’m Alice talking to the caterpillar, I can only imagine the criticism that people in the trans community receive when they walk down the street. I can only imagine the way they must feel wondering if they fit into society and are successfully “passing” as their chosen gender. Something those of us who, have no problem fitting into societal norms while walking into a gendered bathroom, take for granted .
Caitlyn Jenner has provided people an example of what some members of the LGBT communities experience. But her experience is only one experience in the many of the LGBT community. For me, it comes with identifying as a female but loving the way button down shirts look and feel on my body. Gender is always an issue when presenting anyone but especially those in the LGBT community because it does go against what society views as “normal.” It reflects in our clothes and mannerisms, and is one of the first things people identify about us. Despite her stunning photos in the new Vanity Fair Magazine, Jenner’s gender has been a well publicized debate.
My hopes for what happens next is that people start to see gender as something flexible because feeling comfortable should be what’s important. I have the upmost respect for Caitlyn Jenner and her decision to come out so publicly. I wish that my peers learn to accept each other and our decisions to present ourselves in whichever way we choose, after all clothes are for people, people weren’t made for clothes.
Written by Samantha Gonzalez
Edited by Anya Ferguson