Katy Holmes criticises the prevalence of transphobia in the UK and praises Caitlyn Jenner for the bravery of maintaining a public profile in such and environment.
Despite being (rather obnoxiously) against the existence of most reality television shows, somehow I’m A Celebrity: Get Me Out of Here sneaks its way into my schedule every year. So far, 2019’s season has still got me hooked. We’ve been blessed this year with the reunion of our treasured Geordie duo, as well as a relatively impressive celebrity line-up. I am of course referring mainly to the arrival of Caitlyn Jenner in the jungle. She has made headlines in the last few years for a number of reasons. If you aren’t up to date with Caitlyn’s story, here’s a quick recap:
In April 2015, at the age of 65, Caitlyn came out publicly as a transgender woman. Only a few months later, she graced the cover of Vanity Fair, accompanied by a full coming out story. She is a member of arguably the most famous family in America. Regardless of how you feel about the Jenner/Kardashian clan, (and believe me I do not rate them highly at all) it is important to separate your feelings towards the family as a whole from Caitlyn and her very public transition. I have a great respect for Caitlyn’s journey as a trans woman; her bravery in coming out and remaining visible, knowing that everyone would be watching, took a remarkable kind of courage.
In fact, there isn’t quite a word to describe the extent of my disgust
I don’t think I was alone in feeling concerned about Caitlyn Jenner’s presence on I’m A Celeb, this year. We know how lethal the British press can be when they’ve decided to pick a fight, and it doesn’t matter who you are, where you are, what you’ve been through, they take no prisoners. Pressure on social media may have encouraged the tabloids to take a step back and be slightly more merciful towards Caitlyn whilst she is in the jungle, but what has been truly out of our control is the plethora of no-filter comments made on Twitter. The vile, and apparently boundless, transphobic remarks I have so often come across whilst scrolling through the ‘I’m A Celeb’ hashtag, have been appalling. In fact, there isn’t quite a word to describe the extent of my disgust. Purposeful misgendering, deadnaming (calling someone by their pre-transition name), and trite comments about gender, were amongst some of the many attention-seeking tweets I read.
With such a high-profile transition, Jenner taking part in I’m A Celeb was unfortunately always going to attract the wrong kind of attention. However, I think it might take you by surprise when you find out that the transphobia directed towards Jenner has not been limited to right-wing, conservative members of the British public. In fact, a large majority of these comments have been made by a specific sub-group of radical feminists, known as TERFs (trans-exclusionary radical feminists). TERFs play a huge part in the perpetuation and omnipresence of transphobia in our society. Coining themselves as feminists, yet excluding trans women (who by the way, are WOMEN too), and twisting feminist logic to disregard the rights of trans women is their forte.
So, tell me, why in 2019, is transphobia so prevalent? It doesn’t just exist outside of the LGBTQ+ community either, we have our own epidemic running rampant within the community. To anyone who is guilty of this, let’s just remember who ‘threw the first brick’ at Stonewall – if you don’t know, google it.
Representation is education, and education is key to combatting prejudice
The list of excuses for transphobic actions is getting boring. If you are sick of being politically correct, or in other words, sick of being a decent human being, would you take a moment to read these statistics from Stonewall UK?
- Almost half of trans people in Britain have attempted suicide at least once.
- 84% have contemplated it.
- More than half have been diagnosed with depression at one point in their lives.
Maybe read those again, if it didn’t sink in. From heinous comments online to mockery on daytime television (see the mockery of Piers Morgan), the incessant transphobic commentary in British society is taking a fatal toll on transgender people. If we don’t all take responsibility for fighting against transphobia in Britain, we are all inherently responsible for the deaths and suffering of transgender people in our country, and around the world.
Ultimately, we have a long way to go. Representation of trans people in the mainstream media is crucial, so thank you to Caitlyn for doing just that. Visibility inspires trans youth and highlights trans issues. Representation is education, and education is key to combatting prejudice.