News Release

Jenner: “A Teachable Moment”

The first photos of Caitlyn Jenner have been released in advance of the July issue of Vanity Fair magazine. The photos, shot by Annie Leibowitz, are designed to showcase the transition of Olympic Gold Medalist Bruce Jenner into a woman.

KAREN DOLAN, karen at ips-dc.org, @karendolan
Karen Dolan is a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.  She said today: “Caitlyn Jenner isn’t transitioning from male to female. She was always female.” In a recent piece she penned for AlterNet, Dolan writes: “Science suggests that people like Jenner are not ‘males transitioning to females.’  Transgender people identify as a gender that conflicts with the gender assignment typically associated with their reproductive organs. They are who they say they are… from birth.”

Dolan adds, “There is much to celebrate and much to critique in this particular ‘transition’ — from the standpoint of race and class privilege, because most transgender people are not celebrated nor can afford costly surgeries to look as glamorous at Caitlyn. Jenner’s transition gives us a platform to examine all of these issues. Many transgender people, especially black transwomen, suffer violence and abuse. Transgender people are more likely to be impoverished, denied employment, suffer severe discrimination. Sometimes black trans women are criminalized simply for ‘being outdoors while trans.’ Caitlyn Jenner’s high profile transition does give us, as a nation, the chance to inquire and seek to understand what it means to be transgender. It is the next frontier of civil rights in America, and someone like Caitlyn Jenner has the recognition that can draw attention to critical issues. It is a very strong teachable moment.”