Social media has recently been abuzz with the transformation of Bruce Jenner into Caitlyn Jenner.  The hashtags, #CallMeCaitlyn and #WelcomeCaitlynJenner took over Twitter on Monday (1st May) with A-list stars supporting her while she introduced herself to the world for the first time. 1 million Twitter followers in the space of 5 hours is impressive and indicates the support behind Caitlyn’s choice.

This shouldn’t be front page news, but it is, and that’s our reality. We’re obsessed with celebrities and anything that is seen as the ‘other’ is cause for attention. When faced with the ab’normal’, we’ve been conditioned by society to react in a certain way. To accept things in a certain way and whilst society has come a long way in recent years, some people still find change difficult.

We ran a quick snap poll, asking 1000 respondents how they felt about the transformation. Whilst many didn’t know what I was talking about, or who Caitlyn Jenner was, the rest of the results were very encouraging. Check out the stats below:

25% – Live and let live. It doesn’t affect me.
23% – Who? I don’t know who you are talking about.
21% – She looks fantastic! Good for her!
20% – Who cares? I’m sick of the Kardashians!
5% – This is a positive step for the transgender community.
4% – I don’t support Bruce’s choice.
1% – Other

Of the people who chose ‘other’ some obviously feel strongly about this topic as some of the comments included:

Just another self-indulgent rich git transforming for vanity reason
Absolutely amazing! She looks incredible, so brave
It’s disgusting and unnatural, besides this photo has been photoshopped beyond recognition
Older men shouldn’t transition later in life, he looks creepy
It is not my place to judge anyone especially someone I do not know
So what if she’s trans? Why are you asking heteronormative people? Leave her alone.

Some of these comments make me want to punch people (although I don’t condone violence) but I really don’t believe she should be left alone. More importantly I don’t think she wants to be, or she would have made the transition privately and not been on the cover of one of the most fashionable magazines in the world! It has now also been revealed that she is planning to make a docu-series about her journey. Also I don’t want to leave this topic alone because Caitlyn now represents something. She represents an acceptance that is much needed.

For me, this story really hit home.  I grew up with a boy who is currently undergoing surgery to become a girl. Back in the day… way back, when we used to play together, he was subjected to name calling and picked on for being feminine. Being openly gay was still a relatively new concept and  people didn’t realize the damage they could be causing.

Sadly, this is still the case in some households. I remember his father being furious at him for wanting to play with Barbies, and wanting to pursue music and drama. Money was thrown at psychologists to try and make him more manly, and to reject anything that came naturally to him. He grew up so conflicted as to who he really was, and who people wanted him to be.

When I got to University and my eyes were opened to the real world, and I learned to think for myself and not be another drone suppressed by hegemony; my heart broke, as I realised how painful my friend’s life was. He has now made the brave decision to be a transgender woman, and while her mother has come around to the idea, sadly her father remains in the shadow, always keeping his opinions to himself. It could be that my friend’s father can relate to Caitlyn’s mother, who said she will refer to Caitlyn as Bruce for now because that is what she and her husband named him. Change is not easy for everyone but at least she is happy for her child, who has been described as ‘more at ease’ with life.

Hopefully Caitlyn’s story will permeate the media and bring positive attention to the transgender community. The lines between someone’s sex and their gender are still being confused, despite celebrities like Ellen Degeneres and Chaz Bono trying to educate us. Finally I can see social media being used for the greater good, and not just to tear people down, although I am sure Fashion Police will have their say sooner or later.