I already posted the following text as a response on my trans sister’s blog Michelliana, but I have decided to re-post it here for those of you who don’t follow her blog. Since I posted this last night, I have decided to make a few edits while keeping the original intent intact.
I am certainly not the only person, trans or otherwise, who was not dismayed by the Vanity Fair cover photograph of the newly minted Ms. Jenner. For all she has done to bring the transgender experience into the homes and hearts of millions of people it still promotes a very narrow gender-normative view of the transgender experience while being viewed by the cisgender majority as a big leap forward for transgender equality in America.
In some respects, I had already seen her as a “Jenner-come-lately” but now I have had to ask myself whether the media spectacle has somehow cheapened the transgender experience for Ms. Jenner’s own aggrandizement when there are so many of us that have entered into the process of transition with absolutely no idea if we would ever be able to complete it if we ever wanted to transition at all.
I certainly am not typical myself of the diversity that exists within the transgender reality. My image of myself as transgender fits into the binary male/female view of gender. Until I began transition, I had no idea just how diverse the transgender spectrum could be but I was motivated to learn as much as I could. No amount of educational opportunities will work if the cis majority is not motivated to seek them out. This kind of exploitive media sensationalism I believe has done more harm than good for the rest of us.
While I am one who by no means had to face the many challenges and barriers that many more will never have any hope of surmounting, I still feel cheated by all the media sensationalism especially with the magazine cover.and all the other photographs I presume accompanied the article. I am likely to encounter some resistance to my transgender viewpoint from well-meaning friends and allies, but will do my best to keep my cool and not take it personally.
Deanna Joy Hallmark