Since first becoming a household name synonymous with transgender, Caitlyn Jenner has been on the receiving end of much condemnatory coverage, resulting in such critical articles as Preston Mitchum's Caitlyn Jenner Is Not a Perfect LGBT Rights Advocate.
Whether or not you endorse the statements and behaviors of Ms. Jenner, it must be noted that her celebrity has focused attention on a matter too long ignored. No clearer is an example than that of the Transgender Day of Remembrance Memorial Service, hosted by the Metropolitan Community Church of Greater Saint Louis.
The service, organized by multiple faith-based and LGBT advocacy organizations, including Zion United Church of Christ - Florissant and the Metro Trans Umbrella Group, was held in observance of those transgender persons who, over the past year, lost their lives to hate crimes. The auditorium style facility, not too dissimilar from many other modern Christian churches across the country, was filled to capacity with visitors, spectators, members of the media, as well as regular congregants, was but one of the Remembrance events visited by the celebrity while visiting St. Louis. Amidst the attendees mourning those tragically slain at the hands of ignorance, as well as fearing those victims yet to come, were those glued to their phones, announcing to the world that that their evening was graced by the presence of the self-crowned "Queen of Social Media," the reality TV dignitary herself, Her Royal Highness Caitlyn Jenner.
Hearing of Ms. Jenner filming an upcoming episode of I Am Cait in the area, I both expected and desired her to attend a local Remembrance event. In her presence, my partner and I were able to see what influence she is capable of wielding. One very hospitable member of the community, in addition to welcoming and encouraging our attendance to this upcoming Sunday's service, informed us that, unlike the same occasion last year where the crowd numbered around merely 25, she was so pleased that this event attracted a substantially larger audience. I could tell by her enthusiasm and surprise that she had no idea that, across the room, a celebrity was present, and was the likely impetus for the crowd. Looking back, I've come to realize that the reason for the increased popularity of the event really doesn't matter.
Every year, countless transgender persons are fired, assaulted, raped, murdered, or victimized in another equally brutalizing manner, and those crimes have not once brought the attention the issue deserves. Obviously, I'm rather biased when categorizing this tragedy as one of the most dire human rights adversities of our lifetime, but, the truth is, our attention should be concentrated on every case of minority oppression, that is, until we've corrected our dysfunction. The shameful fact is that it took a reality TV star to draw the appropriate level of focus that this issue warrants.
Regardless as to your assessment of the many categorical statements that Ms. Jenner has made through the seemingly unlimited media channels at her disposal really isn't, in this writer's opinion, of significance, nor do I care to opine on whether she's fulfilling the hefty responsibilities that come with being transgender in the public eye. What I care to highlight is that, before her, gender identity and expression, let alone that of those murdered for being transgender, was never given the consideration that such a topic merits.
Ms. Jenner is but one person with a unique story, and, beyond some similarities, it is not one familiar to every transgender person. However, the attention she has brought to this community, MY community, is invaluable and should be recognized.
So, Ms. Jenner, Caitlyn if you will, thank you for the awareness you've generated for this subject, and I implore you to please do whatever is necessary to keep our fixation until it is needed no longer.