For better or for worse, Caitlyn Jenner is a lightning rod

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This week seems to belong to Caitlyn Jenner: she is everywhere since her landmark cover hit the world at large.

This is both good and bad: there are plenty of people who not only support her, but consider her brave for going public about her transformation. However, she also has her share of detractors.

Some simply seem to think that having a noted Olympic athlete come out as transgender isn’t worth praising, such as Tom Cruise’s son, Connor. Regarding Caitlyn’s very public coming out, he said on Twitter, “Really?? Winning the AA award for courage?? Ashton is gonna come out and yell PUNK’D.

“Don’t get me wrong. Do what you feel like doing and don’t let anyone stop you. But everyone is taking this way too seriously. There are so many more important things that should be talked about…And SO MANY MORE IMPORTANT PEOPLE that actually deserve an award.”

His response isn’t entirely about transphobia, per se—rather, he thinks there are more important things in the world, and more courageous athletes. This seems to be a running issue with giving Jenner the award: a meme quickly went up about how she was being picked over disabled veteran Noah Galaway. It soon went viral, spreading like wildfire over both Twitter and Facebook.

The problem is, the meme is completely inaccurate. ESPN has confirmed that there was no runner-up. Instead, they picked Jenner because they thought what she was doing was courageous, despite what anyone else might think.

Then there’s the blatantly transphobic comments and memes coming to the surface. The rapper Timbaland posted one such meme, a picture of Eddie Murphy playing a barber in Coming to America that says, “His momma named him Bruce, imma call him Bruce.”

While this is obviously dismissive of someone who is revealing their true self, it’s not the worst one out there. Snoop Dogg shared a meme that called Jenner a science project and compared the attention she’s recieving to the lack of fanfare surrounding Akon, who is trying to provide solar power 600 million people in Africa. What Akon is doing should certainly be covered due to its importance, but there’s no need to scoff at Jenner over the media attention she’s getting.

Unfortunately, homo/transphobia seems to be endemic in the hip-hop community. On June 1, Lee Daniels shared that he and Jussie Smollett received death threats for the gay storyline on Empire.

Transgender female rapper Foxxjazell said, “I think it does start in hip-hop, because a lot of hip-hop fans, if they hear one of their favorite rappers over and over again talking about ‘fag this’ or ‘fag that,’ it’s going to be instilled into their head. A lot of people are raised by hip-hop culture.” 

Out rapper Baron agreed, saying, “Its roots are in American culture, in global culture. It’s not just hip-hop artists who are homophobic. There are quite a few other cultures that are homophobic. I can’t take hip-hop off the hook for being a generator, but it all goes back to…self-hatred. There are gay hip-hop artists who say things that are detrimental to themselves, or other [gay]people, so it all goes back to… self-hating.”

Of course, the hip-hop community isn’t alone: anti-LGBT sentiment remains a big problem in the Republican Party. Mike Huckabee, for example, has said, “Now I wish someone had told me when I was in high school that I could’ve felt like a woman when it came time to take showers in PE. I’m pretty sure I would’ve found my feminine side and said, ‘Coach, I think I’d rather shower with the girls today.'”

Really, if we look at the current GOP, we can find too many examples of close-minded thinking. It’s so prevalent it’s like shooting fish in a barrel.

While society has changed in many ways, there are some people who continue to believe antiquated thinking. Whether it was intentional or not, Caitlyn Jenner is a lightning rod. She has shown us that as far as we have come, we have a long way left to go.

Jon Stewart has a few things to say on the topic:

About The Author

I started out as a blogger and still maintain my personal blog, Which Way to Hollywood where I unabashedly talk about many things geeky like video games, anime, comics, conventions, movies and more.

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