what if the worlds/were a series of steps/what if the steps/joined back at the margin

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Caitlyn Jenner’s Freak Show

Into episode four of “I Am Cait”, Caitlyn’s transgender identity is becoming more developed, but she is still hyper aware of what she calls the “freak factor” in her new life. In a conversation with Kate Borenstein, one of the most influential transwomen in America and author of Gender Outlaw, Cait asks “How do you get over the freak factor?” to which Borenstien answers “Owning the freak factor with heart”. Cait and Borenstein mindfully discuss how there will always be some segment of the population who views transpeople as “freaks” and as such feels that they are lesser humans than cis gendered people. For Caitlyn, this is intensified since her journey as a transwoman is being actively exploited by the paparazzi. To cis gendered people who feel transfolks are “freaks”, there is little understanding of how sex and gender are different and sometimes unrelated, and there is active fear about the transidentity and what it means for the person’s worldview. To understand that the gender binary is false is to unlearn something that was presented as true for much of one’s life. Cait asks Borenstein “How do you get over the freak factor” to which she replies “Owning the freak show with heart”. Essentially, Borenstein tells Cait, there is nothing a transperson can do about the people who feel they are a freak, their minds are closed and their perspective is too harsh to listen. However, one can relish in their freakishness and make it part of their identity, to understand it, to own it. This is a monumental task for transpeople, and requires the support of allies.

Borenstein clarifies what she thinks an ally is versus what is generally thought of as an ally. To most people, they assume that they are trans allied if they are accepting of the trans identity. For Borenstein, this does not meet the burden of an ally by simply being supportive. Active support is helpful, but action yields more results. An ally must be a person who responds to the needs of transpeople, as she says ally means “you ask me what I need, I tell you, and you tell me how much you can actually supply”. She then goes on to give the example that she may need an ally to act as a body guard in a crowd that she needs to get through. Why would Borenstein need an ally in a crowd of people? This is because transbodies are viewed as public property due to the freak factor. The twentieth century was awash with “freak shows” which treated people with abnormalities as exploitable commodities that the public had a right to access. All the humanity for these exploited people in the freak shows was lost, they were simply an exhibit to ponder. A transperson may not feel comfortable in a crowd because of how their bodies have been treated by cis people, as if they are an exotic specimen to be inspected by touching or being asked inappropriate questions. Cis people who feel transpeople are “freaks” are also curious about transbodies and trans lives. They will often become preoccupied with the transperson’s genitalia and their private sexual lives and sexual orientation. To be made into a freak is to have one’s personal space invaded and colonized. Allies must work in congruence with transpeople as to how best assess their most active needs and lessen the amount that the freak show factor has on them.

As Caitlyn’s family found out in episode one, Caitlyn is the same person as she was when she was Bruce, she just has a new identity to work into. Transpeople are still humans, their change of gender is akin to changing one’s clothes in terms of affecting the essence of a person. Clothing relects a peson’s thoughts about their identity, and chosing the proper gender is the way for transpeople to express to their satisfaction their identities. Obviously, the person will change with a transition, but the core of them remains intact. The freak factor takes this away and asserts that a person is the summation of their ability to be “normal” and any deviancy from normalization is paramount to betraying what is natural and what is right. Borenstein reminds Cait that the beginning of a transition is like a second adolescence, a time when people are very vulnerable to bullying and the outside opinion of the world. Acting as a true ally requires cis people to fight the notion that a person is a freak simply for transitioning genders and actively challenge real cis gendered people when they make transphobic comments.

While this episode positively and successfully gave cis people information about how to be an ally, as is a goal of Cait with this show, it also revealed the extent of the privilege Cait has as a rich trans person living in Los Angeles. There are several support groups and resources mentioned in the show for transpeople in Los Angeles, which makes sense as it is a large city in California and the center of the entertainment industry. However, these resources and support groups often do not exist for transpeople living in areas like the South or the Midwest whose populations may not be as comfortable with the idea of transpeople. Cait has professionals come to the house who specialize in trans issues to help support her through her transition, another thing many transpeople do not have access to due to location and the culture of where they live. This is an issue the show has yet to address or acknowledge in a significant way. There was a nod in the first episode by Cait to her privileged nature, however, the show overall has failed to note how privileged Cait is actively over other transpeople. It is sometimes a frustrating feature of the show because few things about Cait’s life are humble, and it would be constructive to see Cait humble herself and acknowledge with active mindfulness that the support she receives is a privilege that few are able to get.

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“Lost Angeles: Skid Row Is My Home” Documentary

Homelessness is a societal problem with many different implications for the homeless persons. To a degree in the United States, homelessness is now becoming illegal as is helping the homeless. For certain, a society can be judged how it treats its homeless, and in the United States, the legal establishment has not been kind to the homeless.

The documentary “Lost Angeles: Skid Row Is My Home” focuses on several homeless persons who live in Skid Row in Los Angeles. Skid Row is a fifty block conglomerate of primarily single adult housing units and is a low economic area with arguably the nation’s largest homeless population. It was established by a court case, Jones v. City of Los Angeles after it was found unconstitutional under the eight amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment that police could not destroy homeless camps in Skid Row because of the city’s housing shortage and thus the actions of the homeless could not be criminalized. Skid Row is a place of institutional proportions because it is also home to a large number of mentally ill persons. When the mental asylums were closed in the 1980’s by President Reagan, the policy toward the mentally ill became one of pharmaceuticals and little else support. The reason why so many people are homeless also have mentally health issues is because of the lack of community support, and in Los Angeles, many of them end up at Skid Row. Similarly, the Cook County Jail, LA’s jail, is also the largest mental health facility in the United States. The prevalence of jail and homelessness for the mentally ill makes logical sense since many cannot create the stability in order to lead productively healthy lives. Skid Row is an institution in and of itself for the mentally ill.

One of the characters the audience meets is Lee Anne, an eccentric old cat lady who cares for the cats and birds on Skid Row. She has a full shopping cart and a fiance who follows her around, a fellow by the name of K.K. Both share a mutually beneficially relationship by taking care and looking out for one another. K.K. remarks that to a degree, they have both chosen to be on the street. For him, he wanted to be “wild” and engaged in the drug lifestyle. For Lee Anne, she prefers to live outside despite having an apartment, K.K. reveals. Lee Anne has a mental illness where she collects trash, however, she seems to be one of the souls of Skid Row who is genuinely trying  to make it a better, more improved place to live by taking care of the animals. We meet Emanuel Compito, a man who voluntarily literally cleans up the streets of Skid Row with a broom and occasionally takes time to wash the streets with buckets of water. When the city continued to refuse to clean the streets, Compito took it upon himself to improve conditions for himself and his fellow Skid Rowers.

There is a great tension within the city of Los Angeles between the business owners, government leaders, and the advocates of  the homeless. People who are homeless exist because we live in a capitalistic society where peoples’ value and worth is measured  in financial terms. In capitalist societies, there are more people than jobs to create demand for jobs at the same time there is more available housing than there is people in the housing. Homelessness, theoretically, does not need to be a problem, it is the system it exists within that creates the problem. William J. Bratton was brought in to assist the city with “cleaning up” Skid Row. Bratton infamously helped “clean-up” New York City in the 1990’s. Bratton is a proponent of the “broken-windows” theory of policing that dictates that small quality of life policing is more conducive in the fight against crime and the chaos crime can bring. This means stopping people for simple violations and essentially taking a zero tolerance policy on law breaking. It means that the police become a large, unstoppable force with which there is no reckoning, and it wrecks devastation on the citizens it is enforced against. There is a disturbing scene when the police harass Lee Anne; she puts the contents of her cart and the belongings of other homeless folk in the street because the police informed her that they would be cleaning the street that day. In a chaotic exclamation of calamity, Lee Anne tries to salvage the belongings while managing to keep track of everything. She later finds out that she was being harassed by the police, that there was no street cleaning scheduled for that day and that because of the debacle some homeless people lost all their sleeping blankets. It is a scene that crystallizes the struggle of the homeless plight.

Bratton enforced quality of life arrests because it disproportionately puts pressure on the homeless person to live their lives in a way that does not favor their current lifestyle, the policy is intended to force these people out of homelessness as if many of them weren’t trying to begin with. For example, people violating the ordinance stating that no one can sleep on a city side walk can be fined up to $1,000, a sum of money a homeless person surely does not have.

Legally, the battle in the courts over homelessness is an issue of conduct versus status. That is, a homeless person may be protected under the law like in the Jones case against cruel and unusual punishment if they were left with no other alternative for their conduct and thus their status as a homeless person allows them more protection. However, the conduct of a homeless person for example lying on the street could be construed as illegal because of city ordinances or other public safety rules, therefore allowing the conduct to be criminalized. It is a chicken versus egg issue, one whose coin can be flipped depending on the judge or set of judges at trial. It is one in a barrage of examples of how the lives of the homeless are often left up to chance.

The film ends to remind us that:

skid row

From beginning to end “Lost Angeles: Skid Row Is My Home” is a documentary that showcases the brilliance and resiliency of the human race. However, it reminds us that the comfort of our homes is one of our own making, that any one of us really can become homeless. We meet Danny Harris, a man at the beginning of the film, who won a silver medal in the Olympics for sprinting and became homeless on Skid Row. Life is filled with an endless amount of land-mines that must be navigated in order to continue. “Lost Angeles: Skid Row is My Home” is a documentary guaranteed to make one think of what makes life worth living and what the essence of humanity is.

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Caitlyn Jenner’s Reality Check

I have been following the “I Am Cait” television show because it is a historic event in transgender history and I want to be privy to it. With all forms of media, there are major pitfalls, “I Am Cait” can be excessive in reality television silliness and narrated dramatic plotlines, but the overall themes of “I Am Cait” that include self-acceptance and overall acceptance for the trans community work to accomplish counter-balance its necessary Hollywood glamour. In the third episode of “I Am Cait”, Caitlyn Jenner gets a reality check about what her new identity means.

Transitioning from one gender to another is an extreme experience that requires patience and time. One thing that has come up several times in this episode and the last is how Caitlyn’s voice is still that of Bruce and how much it bothers her. The trans women Caitlyn spends time with encourage her to accept her voice, that it is a part of her trans identity and is legitimate, that she is no less a woman because she has a deep voice. “You’re allowed to be both,” the women tell her. The other curious aspect of Caitlyn’s new identity is one of keeping her responsibilities to her children and fulfilling her role to them as a father. Despite being a woman she is still a father, a concept that heteronormativity surely despises. However, Caitlyn expresses desires to continue being a good father throughout her transition. Unfortunately, the audience has only seen her daughter Kylie for a short bit during the first episode, and her step-daughter Kim Kardashian. Otherwise, the family is absent. It is unclear if this is intentional on the part of the producers or if it is due to Caitlyn’s family not being as accepting as she would like. Certainly, familial alienation is a theme of the show that is explored.

The subject of sexuality also comes up in this episode. Trans sexuality is a subject that is widely curious to many people and speculated about often. People who are not used to the idea of transgenderism might fetishize trans sexuality because of the non-binary nature of it. If a woman has a penis, how does she have sex? Who would want to have sex with a woman with a penis? These are questions that the heteronormative world seems squeamish about. In Caitlyn’s world, she says she has no time to think about an orgasm at this moment, which is a very valid sentiment given the hyper new nature of her life. Caitlyn also makes an interesting heteronormative statement about sexuality, saying that she would feel more effeminate with a man in a romantic relationship. It is an interesting utterance from a person whose sexuality could change just as much as their gender, especially when she admits to “appreciation for the male form”.

This is important coming from a person who is under media scrutiny. Caitlyn Jenner is the new Christine Jorgenson, the original transwoman who was plagued by Hollywood tabloids after her transition. Jorgenson was a World War Two veteren, causing the sensationalism of her 1950’s transition to be even more pronounced.


Jorgensen transitioned in Copenhagen, Denmark, originally intending to go to Sweden for the surgery however she found a doctor in Copenhagen who helped her. A new woman from a WW2 G.I. was too sensationalist a story for the American media to not pick up and run with. She was ridiculed in the press, widely misunderstood but tried to work with the media by authorizing a movie about her life. Unfortunately, The Christine Jorgensen Story is a product of its time and is itself a work of heteronormative solipsism, including homophobic sentiments. However, she did not fade away. She started speaking at colleges about her experience as a transwoman, became an entertainer, and was featured on a Danish documentary about transpeople. Sadly, her personal life suffered as the result of being trans and she was never able to marry because her birth certificate listed her as male, thwarting all marriage attempts. Like Caitlyn Jenner, Christine Jorgensen refused to let misunderstanding stand in the way of her accomplishments to better the world for transpeople.

Another very important subject that was raised on the third episode was the fact that there is no legal protection against discrimination against trans people in the United States. As it stands now, any trans person in the United States can loose their job or their housing because of their status as a trans person. The beginning of the episode starts with a circle of transwomen recounting their past experiences of the beginning of their transition, and many could not find legal work and instead had to choose to do sex work. This is a constant theme in “I Am Cait” and one that cannot be stressed enough: because of the legal and social restrictions put in place against trans identities, trans people must choose to make unsafe decisions in order to survive. This is unacceptable as a societal practice. Transpeople on their own do not threaten anyone; they are simply people with a non-binary conforming identity, but this fact threatens a power structure that benefits certain individuals over others. This then leads to individual transpeople being put in positions of vulnerability such as having to do sex work. While sex work should not be shamed or looked down upon, because of its illegal status, it is work that can be dangerous, and therefore avoided. However, with little other options to get food and housing, many transwomen turn to this form of work. “I Am Cait” isn’t sure what  to do with this fact other than exploit it, unfortunately. There is little discussion about how alternatives could be found for these women. When one of the women who had done sex work expresses a desire to go to nursing school, Cait decides that she will pay for nursing school and give this woman her dream. However, this is where the show gets very Hollywood-y and not realistic. For most transpeople, there is no Caitlyn Jenner fairy godmother who will heal your trans-wounds with money. There are deep scars and a dearth of hurt. There is isolation and pain. If the show wants to accomplish more than putting a band-aid on a bullet wound, it will have to find a genuine outlet for the type of work Caitlyn wants to accomplish, such as putting together a foundation or organizing a scholarship for trans-youth or setting up a homeless shelter.

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A Hate Crime in a Case of Mistaken Identity

Hate crime legislation did not always exist because the concept that a group of persons of minority status deserved special legal protection was not a popular sentiment until the 1990’s. Racialized tension has always been a historical American problem of epic proportions that has been dealt with many failures and some successes.

Documentaries are permanent time pieces that capture the essence of a person, place, or event. The Public Broadcasting Station produces many fantastic documentaries about a wide array of subjects. To find a documentary that is a few years old and genuinely well done is an exciting feat for a documentary junkie. Who Killed Vincent Chin is one of those documentaries rarely found, a diamond in the rust.

The premise of the documentary is the murder of Vincent Chin by Ronald Ebens and Michael Nitz, his stepson. Chin was a Chinese-American man who lived in Detroit during the 1980s and was engaged to be married. During the 1980’s the American car industry, located in Detroit, suffered a number of set backs as they industry honchos mismanaged changing demands of the consumer while car producers in Japan appealed to the desires of car drivers in American markets. This caused the car industry in America to plummet, leading to a decrease in jobs in American car manufacturing plants, and as a result, it became that there were many angry unemployed working class people living in Detroit. Unemployment is a problem because it causes a decrease in self-esteem, motivation, productivity, and overall quality of life.

There has always been a problem of racism within the American frame of mind. Making wild generalizations about an ethnic or racial group is a disdainful American tradition, and white solipsistic perspective often erases ethnicities within a racial group. For example, Vincent Chin was Chinese-American but died because he was suspected of being Japanese. For Ronald Ebens, the man who bashed Chin’s head in with a baseball bat, this was explanation enough for the attack:


Racine Colwell was a dancer at Fancy Pants, a Detroit strip-club that was frequented during the evening by the working class men of the auto plant industry. Chin and Ebens had had a verbal spat at the club that then carried into the parking lot. Instead of continuing the verbal spat, the disagreement turned into a hate crime because of Eben’s prejudice against Chin for being of Asian descent.”You little motherfuckers” is the phrase that is contentious as to whether or not this attack was a hate crime at the time of trial. Appallingly, Ebens was not convicted of murder despite the attack being witnessed by two off duty police officers, but plead guilty to second degree manslaughter while serving no jail time, instead being fined several thousand dollars. Many in the Asian community felt that this was a clear instance of white privilege at work keeping a white man free of the confines of jail or prison while an entire ethnic and racial group was failed by justice.

In the 1980’s, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was recently enacted legislation that dictated protection for discrimination based on racial prejudice. Social change is not the same mechanism as legal change but both are affected by one another and both are gradual processes that require compromise and understanding of nuances. Legal change is an instant moment that can be measured by victory and success or failure. Social change is a story based around millions of lives interconnected by a narrative thread. Understanding of the Civil Rights Act is not the same landmark event as the accomplishment of passing it.

Ebens was given wide latitude by the police and the legal system because of the historical standing of white male privilege. Hate crimes were common events in areas like the South and bodily violence against non-white bodies was common, and as current events across the country exhibit, is still common today. In the documentary, Ebens himself expresses surprise that he did not go to prison for murder. There is clearly something off in this case, something working toward the expression of Eben’s liberty at the expense of justice for Chin’s murder. The police did not interview the dancers from the club who saw the verbal altercation. The District Attorney downgraded a senseless murder to manslaughter, a charge that in layman’s terms mean’s “this person didn’t mean to kill anyone it just happened”. Killing someone with a baseball bat, bashing a person’s skull in like you were hitting a home run is not an accident. It is intentional, there is malice, and there is hatred. It is a personal way to kill someone, to express rage.

There is a point in the film when public rage was expressed by literally bashing Japanese cars with sledgehammers. There is a curious correlation between violence done to people and violence done to things. For example, during the Nazi era, there were public book burning that were held in order to express fascistic rage at liberal or communist ideas. The idea that there is a correlation between burning books and burning people by this group of radical fascists is logical. In Detroit, it went from people smashing Japanese cars to smashing Japanese bodies. Racialized hatred is a clear act of defiance of peace. Violence is an expression of hatred.

Federally, Ebens was convicted of federally violating Chin’s civil rights and given a twenty-five year sentence that was later overturned on a technicality. Hate crime legislation did not yet exist, so the idea that minority groups have a special status of protection within the law was not a legal concept. The film contains many allegories that Ebens was not in any way a racist  man because he either worked with racial minorities at the auto plant, or because his daughter had tutored an Asian boy in school. These are instances of white nonsense, a way to whitewash making racialized hatred normal by virtue of interacting with racial minorities. This is illogical and attempts to appeal to emotional manipulation. Nitz’s girlfriend even contends that he was even happy to be on unemployment because he could “collect all this money” while doing things like taking trips and apparently, beating up Asian men.

Meaningful social transformations must be supported by legal action and accomplishment. Hate crimes are a necessary legal protection in order to ensure that groups who are minorities have the correct protection from unnecessary aggression.

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Writing About Mental Illness

In my post “Why Transgenderism Should Not Be Classified As A Mental Illness” I explored the heteronormative concepts that surround why “gender dysphoria” is considered a mental disorder. Most of these concepts are reactions to the emotional distress transgender individuals experience at the behest of society’s reaction to their true identities, and some of the concepts result from poor understanding of the difference between biological sex and socially determined gender. Certainly though, the mental health medical community has a lot of work to do bridging the discrepancy between how trans and gender diverse people are treated and how trans and gender diverse people should be treated. By labeling transgenderism as a mental illness, mental illness becomes misunderstood and more exaggerated than it already is.

In a heteronormative solipsistic mind, a person with a penis dressing in women’s clothing and proclaiming to be a woman would look “crazy”. A person with a penis calling themselves a woman would seem “crazy”. However, people who are trans are completely different from mentally ill people. Trans people have a unique identity whereas mentally ill people have a sickness that involves brain biochemicals and imbalances of those biochemicals.

Mentally ill people are not presented well in media. In The Dark Knight the nefarious perpetrators are all mentally ill weirdos who follow the Joker’s every commandment. Specifically, the schizophrenic character who plants a bomb in a prisoner is portrayed extremely “crazy”. But, “crazy” people would probably not follow the Joker; their minds would be too disorganized from being sick and they would be overwhelmed by the demands of a very dangerous man. The Joker might be able to manipulate mentally vulnerable people into thinking demented things, but as the movie portrays it, it would be very unlikely someone sick with schizophrenia would participate in such mayhem. The degradation that mentally ill people are portrayed with in The Dark Knight is common in Hollywood. Mental illness can present a lot of dramatic situations and can be a rife story line for a televisions show or movie. However, ableism typically fills in how the portrayed mentally ill person acts versus how mental illness actually impacts a person’s life.

Ableism is very seductive. It is a solipsistic concepts that purports that normal minds and bodies should meet certain standards and criteria in order to be considered worthy. Ableism affects the disabled, mentally ill, physically sick, and people with other kinds of challenges who find the standard of normalized health to be unreachable or who need that standard altered. Mentally ill people face abelism when they hear the word “crazy” because that word can be intended to degrade the very real symptoms of a variety of illnesses whose sufferers deserve the same respect as any other illnesses. Abelism can also cause discrimination against mentally ill people in workplaces, public spaces, and other environments. Mentioning being mentally ill can be enough to completely have one’s entire identity viewed differently.

I know because it has happened to me.

I struggle daily with bipolar disorder type II. Type II is less severe than type I, but it is still incredibly difficult to deal with. I have periods of time when I struggle with depression, hypomania (a less severe type of manic behavior), and mixed episodes. It is painful, humbling, sometimes humiliating, scary, upsetting, confusing, and every kind of daunting feeling of living with a life long illness one can possibly come up with. Us bipolar people have a suicide rate several times higher than the rest of the population for a reason; it simply makes living life so much more difficult.

There is still a lot of stigma against mental illness. Because of the instability it creates in our lives, there is a psyche against people with mental illness, an idea that we are somehow less capable individuals than our non-mentally ill counterparts. There is a lot of room to make fun of someone in the throws of an episode because sometimes mentally ill people do really strange things. I personally have been through this, and it is a horrible feeling to know that you are being made into a joke due to behavior you can’t control and don’t really understand. This happened before I was diagnosed, so my behavior was out of control in a particular way that made me act eccentric and erratic. I was trying to manage a barrage of uncomfortable feelings with the reality of the world, and in the end, the world smashed me. It was a very trying and difficult time, the onset of a mental illness is one of the worst times of the disease because the person suffering from it has no idea why this is happening. It was sudden but progressive, something I knew was coming and something I had no preparation for. My mind suddenly was broken and fixing it has not been accomplished yet. I have been suffering for years and only recently have I been able to make appropriate changes to accommodate my disease. It is difficult because mental illness does not want to be managed, it wants to take over every aspect of a person’s life and dominate them into it’s little puppet. Many people do no have the ability to overcome their mental illness because of the strength and severity. Some people cannot find enough hope to put in the incredibly difficult work recovery takes. These people are not worth any less, just like people losing the battle to cancer are not worth any less.

Mental illness takes courage and bravery to cope with. It is easy to get lost in sickness and despair. Like other mental accomplishments, little bits must be worked on every day in order to see results. People with mental illness are not defective human beings with less worth, we are part of the diverse fabric of humanity. Writing about mental illness takes compassion and understanding of the nuances of how the brain affects behavior. Words like “crazy” or “loco” or “lunatic” must be suppressed because of the extremely harmful nature these words have on those afflicted with mental illness.

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Caitlyn Jenner’s Ignorance Problem

People who are transgender have lived very diverse lives because they have either lived as both genders, a combination of genders, or an ambiguity of gender. If a person had spent most of their life classified as male or masculine and then goes on to transform into a very feminine version of womanhood, then they are going to carry the experiences they had as male over to their experience after their transition. In other words, changing a person’s gender does not entirely change who a person is despite undergoing a massive identity change.

On the second episode of “I Am Cait”, Caitlyn gets introduced to a bunch of important trans women. This is presented like the new girl getting invited to the sleepover for the first time. By this point, the enormity of Cait’s privilege is astounding. She has a lot of cash, a lot of employees and advisers, and a lot of PR persons working on her image. She is more powerful than the average person by many levels of magnitude, and has the power to represent the trans community to the greater world because of her notoriety. This is a heavy burden. She must do it right because people’s lives are depending on it, a point she made in the first episode. But by the second, it is revealed that this might pose more of a problem because of who Bruce Jenner was versus who Caitlyn is capable of becoming.

Trans identities are both inherent and forged, natural and created, just like all other personalities. Experiences that shape us to peruse a perspective on the world are defining and important to a persons disposition. While Caitlyn was still Bruce, she achieved incredible feats in the athletic and celebrity world, fame and fortune were brought, and public scrutiny was applied. When she was married to Kris Kardashian, she raised her children in front of a camera and exposed a failing marriage to the world. Her political views are right wing, supporting isolation and boot-strap mentalities just like how her experiences could have shaped her to have these views. The old “if-I-can-do-it-anyone-can” is a very seductive mentality. To Caitlyn, all anyone has to do is work hard and they’ll get what they deserve. But most of us know, the world does not work like that. Not even a little sometimes, at points when a person is working so hard but so down on their luck that literally the worst thing in the world is happening to them. And this happens often to trans youth, the cost of being one’s own self, pursuing one’s own identity, has come at such a massive cost that they have lost everything, have no food, no where to live, no money, and are living on the streets. There are no bootstraps in this situation. There is only help to be taken.

This situation comes up in an awkward scene with the trans girls. These women are advocates and old timers, they have been transgender for a long time and have worked to make the world a better place for their brethren. They are gathered around, sharing cheese and wine, and the topic of the hardships on transpeople comes up. Caitlyn voices her right wing perspective that “handouts” will only harm people in need, to which all the women are visibly repulsed by. They are seeing Caitlyn for who she really is, the summation of experiences that makes up this person, the person who is beyond the gender or identity.

Fame is a process of isolation. There needs to be the presence of enigma with fame, of superficial royalty; fame is a cage. Caitlyn Jenner has been isolated from the trans community. Jennifer Finney Boylan says, “she wants to be our savior…but sometimes I’m not sure what gets through to her”. Boylan is the author of She’s Not There: Life in Two Genders and is a major trans rights advocate. On top of being away from an already isolated community, Caitlyn has been away from what could be called “normal people”. These trans women were part of some of the first hormone distribution underground scenes, or being part of drag scenes, or having to do sex work in order to pay for surgery. This is the most poignant moment of the episode because Caitlyn’s disconnect from a real person sharing their story about sex work was so telling of her overall suffering from general isolation. The best she could do was relay a book the person should read, Redefining Realness by Janet Mock. Its almost like for Caitlyn, these stories are abstractions, they aren’t real. Many things aren’t real to the rich and famous because of how insulated their worlds are; poverty, war, other economic hardships.

Its important to remember that Caitlyn Jenner is an executive producer and has control over the content. She is a major reality star, a person with star power who is not going to be portrayed audaciously by networkers but instead is going to be a part of crafting her appearance and image on her reality series. Jenner is making a very strategic decision to reveal her ignorance problem and expose the negativity associated with it. If she is going to take on the massive task of representing the trans community as the first major celebrity to transition in their lifetime, someone whose gender is actually tied to their success, then she needs to be real and honest about what her limitations are and how to improve on those limitations.

This is a big undertaking for any televisions series, but especially a reality television show. “I Am Cait” dropped fifty percent in audience size for the second episode, which unfortunately makes sense. It is a little difficult to peg who the program is for. On one hand, transwomen yes. But Caitlyn’s immense amount of privilege might get in the way of making “I Am Cait” a desirable program for struggling transwomen. Celebrity culture people, sure, but is this a topic they are interested enough in to tune in for one hour per week? Because of the marginalization of transpeople, “I Am Cait” is struggling with an audience problem as well, which again unfortunately makes sense. Instead of striving for ratings and audience numbers, perhaps “I Am Cait” should accept what it is: a one season documuseries about a rich and famous transwoman working to help the trans community.

If the producers of “I Am Cait” can continue the thread of exposing Caitlyn’s ignorance problem, then this television series could actually amount to something positive for the trans community. Obviously, the flashy money and hot shots that are nearly pornographic of Malibu take away from the positive feeling about a show where the protagonist is a part of a traditionally broke community. The California landscape porn shots are for the celebrity people, not the queer people. However, it is reasonable to expect limitations on what “I Am Cait” can accomplish for the trans community on the account of who Caitlyn Jenner is and what she is willing to accept about the world.