Writing in her blog, the transgender star of E!’s I Am Cait said that she is “truly sorry” for telling Time, “if you look like a man in a dress, it makes people uncomfortable. “ Jenner also tweeted a link to her blog, writing that she aimed "to set the record straight:"
Setting the record straight about some of my recent comments https://t.co/SJingmudFY
— Caitlyn Jenner (@Caitlyn_Jenner) December 14, 2015
Fallout from that quote set off a firestorm of criticism, led in part by Cosmopolitan magazine pop culture editor Alex Rees. He condemned her remarks as “transphobic” and blasted her “language and opinions which end up marginalizing the community you're supposed to be showcasing,” calling Jenner’s comment a step backward for trans people. He wasn't alone:
@Caitlyn_Jenner Problem is, people take you to be the spokeswoman for all things trans. You are basically the opposite of most trans people
— Diane Leigh (@DianeLeigh76) December 14, 2015
@endhomelesnes Makes two of us! I fully understand where you are coming from. I am trans and I am not a fan of Caityln's.
— KimPellar (@KimPellar) December 16, 2015
Jenner wrote that she has “come to understand that maybe I have made some mistakes and I need to make my feelings more clear,” and expressed her wish that people would overlook her missteps because of her ”big heart.”
What happened instead was that social media criticism of Jenner’s statement to Time mushroomed — with an onslaught of social media shares of both Time and Cosmo’s coverage. The former Olympian, who confirmed speculation that she was transgender eight months ago, confessed the critiques, like these, hurt her feelings:
@Caitlyn_Jenner then stop trying to be an advocate. Learn about yourself first. As a Trans woman you are ignorant to our real issues.
— Wendy Williams (@TsWendyWilliams) December 16, 2015
Perhaps most painful is that most of those online condemnations came from LGBT people, especially trans folks, a community that has not wholeheartedly embraced Jenner six months after she came out on the cover of Vanity Fair. She now represents that community in the minds of many around the world, despite Jenner telling Time that she doesn’t see herself as a spokeswoman for trans folks. In her blog, Jenner admitted that she feels “like I have so much to learn:”
“I guess it's true that there are some things that I have not gotten right. Sometimes this is because I'm still finding out about the issues. Sometimes this is because something that is true for me isn't true for other people in our community. And sometimes I've said things that just come out the wrong way.
“And sometimes the media takes one comment out of context -- or interprets it to mean something other than what I meant.”
Jenner went on to explain what she did mean by her “man in a dress’ comment.
“What I was trying to say is that our world really is still a binary one, and that people who look "visibly transgender" sometimes can struggle for acceptance and may be treated poorly by others. And while this may be true, it's also something that needs to change.
“Some people look gender non-conforming because they want to look that way - they don't want to conform to society's expectations. Those people have every right to look and present exactly as they choose. And then there are other people who don't have the resources to access the medical procedures that would help them look the way they would like to look.”
Jenner wrote that she fights for the gender non-conforming, too, and she won’t deny that high fashion, makeup and appearance are part of the Kardashian “world I come from,” and that didn’t change when she transitioned.
“There are a lot of ways of being trans.”
And although there are a lot of ways readers have read Jenner’s controversial remark about ”men in dresses,” that quote does not appear in Time’s article. Sources at the magazine told The Advocate it was neither deleted nor removed; it was just never included in the article posted on Time’s own website, nor in the print edition of the magazine. That quote appears only in the full online transcript of Katy Steinmetz’s interview. Time did not respond to questions about why that quote was left out of the article, nor did its spokesperson respond to criticism leveled at the magazine by LGBT Perspectives editor and columnist Jillian Page, who claimed Time erred in not challenging Jenner’s statement in the first place. Page called Jenner’s comment so dangerous, it could be used to justify anti-trans violence and support conservative views that “it is OK to be uncomfortable around trans women, and to be less than tolerant.”
Within hours of the apology blogpost, another prominent LGBT writer penned an open letter to Jenner in response. Brynn Tannehill strongly suggested Jenner needs to stop issuing apologies and instead step back, “or at least sideways:”
“What you're doing doesn't seem to be working.
“You won't learn what being queer is really like for most transgender Americans being in spaces where queer people are already de rigueur. You learn so much more sitting in the back of the room kibitzing with the field organizers and wonks, than headlining the event.”
Tannehill, a former Navy pilot who is an advocate for trans military, concluded her letter with the radical suggestion that the star of E!’s docu-series step away from the cameras and “take a sabbatical to go experience the things necessary to understand the community.”