An Open Letter to Caitlyn Jenner

Congratulations, Caitlyn!

No matter ones station in life, coming out as transgender in a world where misogyny and heteronormativity is used to police women and women's bodies, is truly a heroic act.

There are few of us who have been publicly outed by the media, and none of us can know what you went through as a trans woman while entertainment-based outlets such as TMZ presented your story in such a way as to deliberately berate and demean you. The fact that you are still with us, despite suffering with dysphoria is testament to your courage and your strength of will -- the same qualities that helped you win gold in the '76 Olympics.

There are some within the community who will be not as welcoming as others; pointing to your privilege over the vast majority of trans women, and excluding you for it, forgetting that just as in the cisgender population, there are women of all social classes, shapes and sizes who are transgender. I understand that you're not a spokesperson for the community, you said this yourself in your brave ABC interview, but your privilege and celebrity affords you the opportunity to be heard in a way in which most of us will never experience. Even if you choose not to embrace advocacy, and it's definitely not for everyone, please be mindful of how fortunate you are and use your voice to lift the voices of others and draw attention to the plight of trans women of color, anti-transgender discrimination, transphobia and the fact that the vast majority of your sisters do not have access to transition related care, and in many cases, basic healthcare. One of the most powerful messages in your ABC interview was when you mentioned the violence against trans women of color on primetime TV. Never before has there been any mention in national media of the violence and murders that plague the transgender community. This was a hugely pivotal moment, and hopefully just the beginning of using your visibility to help others.

There will be those on the outside who will seek to tear you down and denigrate you, and some who will try to use you for their own political and financial gain. Jill Soloway, writer of Transparent, has come under critical attention for her use of a cisgender man to portray the transition of a transgender woman. The actor in question, had previously been in a show in which transphobic punchlines and jokes were the norm. Her wanting to build an episode of Transparent around you is an attempt at silencing some of her critics, especially after her own transphobic comments about you and will likely not be well received by a large portion of your sisters, who will view taking part in Transparent as being out of touch with the community. We are fighting for acceptance and look to those who have visibility to take a stand. While the benefits to the community through someone with your visibility portraying a trans woman authentically on TV would be truly groundbreaking, please ask yourself whether Transparent is the right vehicle now that you're more familiar with the show's backstory.

Sadly, despite your celebrity -- and in some ways because of it -- now that you are out as a transgender woman you will quickly find out that you may no longer be welcome in spaces that you once were. Regardless of your political leanings, as a trans woman you have become a target for the majority of those who share the same political views as yourself, as evident in the way in which Neil Cavuto, Nicole Russell, and Fox stations in general throughout the U.S. have mis-gendered you and reported on your transition. Please don't be discouraged, there are plenty of us in the middle or to the left that would welcome you with open arms and a hug.

Finally, and most importantly, thank you for your bravery in starting to live an authentic life under the constant scrutiny of the media. Regardless of what the Russell's and Cavuto's of this world might say, you are brave and you are an inspiration to others.

In your Diane Sawyer interview, you stated:

I would like to work with this community to get this message out. They know a lot more than I know. I am not a spokesman for this community. I believe we can save some lives here.

I would like to tell you that, yes, Caitlyn, you can. More than that, I sincerely hope that you do. I hope that you choose to become more active in the community and speak out against the very things that kept you hiding yourself for so long -- too long. Caitlyn, you are arguably the greatest athlete America has ever seen, a seemingly honest and sincere person, a father, role model, possibility model, inspiration and above all else, a woman.

Caitlyn, honey, welcome to the sisterhood.