I generally don’t cover trans* celebrities, even those i respect and who are doing a lot of positive work in their communities and elsewhere. Mostly because I’m not really interested in covering any celebrities, they get enough attention. On the other hand, politicians are celebrities of a sort, as are widely-read print journalists and commentators who frequently appear on TV, and I cover those folks. But if you look, most of that is when someone does something that needs criticism. That sort of coverage I can’t set aside merely because the person needing criticism is trans*. Today that means discussing Caitlyn Jenner.
Jenner was recently invited to give a speech on diversity to the UK parliament. Apparently they don’t have white, rich trans* people in the British Isles. Jenner was criticized even before delivering her speech by those who felt it was inappropriate given her US citizenship and massive privilege. Many of her critics doubted she even understands the concepts of privilege and marginalization as most activists understand them. Nevertheless, Jenner persisted. You go girl, I guess.
But as it turns out, the speech was pretty terrible. She thinks that Trump has pushed back trans* liberation movements 20 years, for one thing. (SPOILER: I was out 20 years ago, and he hasn’t.) For another, she’s warning the UK not to do what we did in the US, which apparently was listen to Jenner when she asserted that Trump was a reasonable candidate we should not laugh off to a nice twenty years of unemployment … in Greenland?!?*1
But even worse than that, she used the public attention generated by her speaking gig to prove all her detractors right on her inability to understand privilege:
“When I came out, the first year was great. Then all of a sudden I got this ‘person of privilege,’” she said.“I didn’t get it when it came to the trans community, as we have a very marginalised community.
Oh, and don’t worry that her vast wealth is going to be a problem for her effort to articulate her perspectives on issues important to the entire nation, whatever nation that happens to be at the moment. No, to people worried that she might have trouble speaking her mind, she promised that she
would never apologise for working hard and being successful
But that’s probably not even the worst. I’m sure the actual speech contains a huge number of things that are each far worse than apologia for the monied class. This is, after all, the woman who proved three years ago that the desperate need for feminism does not magically stop at the edge of the ghetto where those deluded, poor, hypermacho men defend their self-images by attacking women*2. That was when she gave the keynote at the ESPYs, were the lead-in for her speech was actually this:
…the last few months have been a whirlwind of so many different experiences and emotions. But to tell you the truth, it seems like every time I turn around in life, I’m putting myself in these high-pressured situations. Competing in the Games, raising a family. But I’ve never felt more pressured than I ever have in my life, than over the last couple of months. Picking out this outfit — O.K., girls, I get it! [Laughter.] You’ve got to get the shoes, the hair, the makeup, the whole process — it was exhausting. And next, the fashion police — please be kind on me, I’m new at this.
That was, of course, the summer where the rest of the world was speaking of the police in light of the killings of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, and Freddie Gray. Jenner wanted to speak about police in light of how afraid she was that she might hear a snarky comment about a mismatch between her earrings and her clutch. But don’t you go thinking her privilege makes her out of touch, eh? I wouldn’t give this woman a strand of spaghetti if she were in full pirate regalia.
Can someone please invite this woman to a very, very dark web somewhere?
*1: Apologies to Greenlanders, trust me it’s only a metaphor.
*2: Yes, that’s serious snark there.