This is for those who miss watching her docu-series on E!, or wish to catch-up, perhaps even find out what all the fuss was about. We've compiled this guide to all eight episodes of the season from The Advocate’s weekly commentary series, He Said, She Said, which followed the exploits of Jenner and her friends, beginning July 27, with the debut of her docu-series on E!
Each week, The Advocate presented a look at the moments in each episode that we feel resonate most strongly within the trans community, through two perspectives.
I’m News Editor Dawn Stacey Ennis, writing from my experience as a woman assigned male at birth who transitioned in the public eye. To provide variety, a different individual joined me each week, on what we callied “The Advocate’s sofa.” While we acknowledge there is more than just the binary, that individual each week was a trans man.
Scott Turner Schofield, the award-winning actor and diversity speaker who was the first transgender actor to appear on daytime television, in The Bold and the Beautiful. was the first to join me for He Said, She Said:
Scott Turner Schofield: My heart is bursting. This is the must-watch show of the season. And I truly did not think I would say that.
Dawn Stacey Ennis: I have but one word for what we saw: outstanding! From the first 30 seconds, I knew it wouldn’t be what I feared, a slick reality show that focused on all the glam and none of the substance. And to see CJ for the first time, right at the start, without makeup, discussing her fears and responsibility? Wow.
Schofield: The fact that Cait said, right at the top, “I just hope I get it right,” while noting her privileges and her awareness of the true lives of transpeople shut up my inner skeptic long enough to continue. And then she let us see her in her rollers! Not being a woman, I don’t know how deep that is, but I kind of get it. Like, neither my mother nor my fiancée have ever let me see them in rollers!
Ennis: Just about as perfect a beginning as I could hope for, and I agree, it put my doubts at ease.
Schofield: Her gentle, sweet kindness really grabbed me. She was so quiet on Keeping Up With The Kardashians — like, dork dad — and through this show we see this compassionate, empathic woman who just wants to do good in the world. I found myself wishing to get to meet her someday.
Ennis: Well, let’s look at who else we saw. I was impressed with how her family was portrayed, and I think that having a gender therapist on hand was weird, but interesting.
Schofield: My fiancée watched with me and she was upset when the gender therapist had no substantial answer for Esther’s bible quote about men dressing as women.
Ennis: I remember Diane Sawyer brought up the same quote in the ABC News special. As I recall the expert they interviewed said, something along the lines of, “there must have been transgender people when they wrote the Old Testament, otherwise they wouldn’t have come up with a rule not to do that.”
Schofield: The Metropolitan Community Church — where my fiancée is a leader — has a whole book about that stuff. She wished that Christians who are earnestly seeing reconciliation for themselves — like Cait’s mom — could have been better served in that moment. Especially since all the other topics were so well addressed.
Ennis: As a dad, I was in tears watching Cait "meet" Kylie, on FaceTime, showing that she was concerned for her daughter seeing her that way instead of in-person. I felt sorry as she obviously struggled with the unexpected call. You saw how worried she is for her daughters and her first concern is to not upset them.
Schofield: I love that the family has what my gut/experience says is a truly authentic response. They show their true, difficult feelings — “how will I call you my daughter?” — while in the same breath proclaiming that the love they share is what’s most important and will not change. Again, in a way that feels authentic.
Ennis: So, you don't think they're acting?
Schofield: I think we have made such caricatures of the Jenner/Kardashian crew (or they did it to themselves on Keeping Up With The Kardashians) that the idea of them being “real” seems impossible. Most of my friends have told me they suspect “she must be selling something.” Well, take it from a truly critical eye: Caitlyn Jenner is selling love, acceptance, social awareness and the imperative to live a good life for yourself and others. Even in the prelude episodes — About Bruce — I was floored by how genuinely and authentically they dealt with everything. My gut check was really clear on their sincerity.
Ennis: There’s an old expression in Hollywood: “The key to success is sincerity - if you can fake that, you've got it made.”
Schofield: I know, sincerity + Kardashian? Well, the world is changing. I think Cait said, “I want to do this right,” and hired producers and got GLAAD involved in a big way.
Ennis: I read she’s not allowed to talk about it, but I see all over this the fingerprints of GLAAD co-chair Jennifer Finney Boylan — the Barnard professor, author and trans woman who was seen in the ABC News special and in a tease for the next episode of I Am Cait. No doubt, Jenny is helping Cait shape her new public image. And that’s a good thing, because Cait really is new at this. Too new. She knows she runs the risk of making a misstep that trans people everywhere will regret. And pay for.
Schofield: So what if she hasn’t learned everything yet? So what if that part is an act? Her intent is in the right place. I feel sincerity in every frame, even if she may be "faking it 'till she makes it." And I’m also thinking: how is it the Jenner/Kardashian crew are doing this family thing better than most families I hear about? Just sayin’.
Ennis: What made you cringe? For me, there were three moments: all those clothes that came from designers... Diane Von Furstenberg, etc. While it's (almost) every girl's fantasy to have a closet stuffed like that, it's so not what happens to 99.999 percent of us. No truck shows up with a new wardrobe at the new trans girl’s house! Second, what is she doing with her old dude clothes? Will we see her donate them? Give them to trans men maybe? And finally, I wanted to leap into the TV and join them on her couch as we watched her mom struggle, clearly overwrought. I just wanted to hug them both!
Schofield: My cringe moment was about how gorgeous everybody kept saying she is. OK, yes. She is gorgeous and good for her; I hope she truly enjoys it. But it made me wonder: what if she had transitioned and still "looked like a man?"
Ennis: Not everybody can afford facial feminization surgery. Not every trans woman wants it, or needs it, either, but for some, it’s the only way to attain true self esteem.
Schofield: Caitlyn was so good about naming her privileges, but she never mentioned that her beauty is one of them. Or that, the crux of discrimination against trans people, is how conventionally beautiful they become.
Ennis: Unless she addresses it, I think it could inadvertently send the message that this is what trans women have to do. I hope not; I’m hoping people know this is what she chose, what she could afford to do. And that there are folks like me who say, my looks are what God gave me, and I’ll make some adjustments, but I don’t want to change my face. Or understand that in others’ cases, it’s financially impossible.
Schofield: When was your biggest laugh?
Schofield: Mine, too! Kanye’s shoe bit, LOL. And I loved his awkward side hugs. But he did them to everybody, not just Cait. Do you think it’s an act ? And/or did you feel the sincerity?
Ennis: I feel he is a force for good within the family. I am sold on Kanye bringing sincerity to all of them, based on what Cait said in the earlier special, about how he turned his wife Kim Kardashian around when she was struggling with her dad’s identity. And yes, loved the sneakers and his untied laces; who would have thought Kanye was actually a positive addition? But I can’t help bringing up another moment that made me cry, though: when Esther spoke, at the end.
Schofield: I think she was really, fundamentally, OK about the transition. She just kept bringing it back to loving her child. If you have that, you can get through everything.
Ennis: I can’t wait until next week!
Schofield: I am really jazzed about this show. Call me flabbergasted, but call me a fan. I am going to watch every episode and I hope they stay this good or better. She really will have changed the world if this show keeps doing it so right.
Ennis: Will you recommend this show to trans men?
Schofield: Trans men should watch this because everyone should watch this. This show is about how to be a good person in the world. If we don’t quit dividing the world by gender, who will?
Ennis: I won’t mince words: I loved it.
Schofield: I don’t want to go "full gush," but this show kinda took me there. I think she really did do this episode right, and I feel optimistic for the future.
Watch the clip where Kanye meets Cait, from the debut episode of E!'s I Am Cait, below, or watch episode one online here:
Ennis: First off, I was expecting so much after last week's episode, which for me was positive, but also revealing of Cait's disconnection from the rest of the world. What did you think of this week's show, Tiq?
Tiq Milan: Caitlyn shows so much vulnerability as she learns how to embody her femininity, particularly around her voice. I think many transpeople spend time in the mirror or over recorders trying to get their voice to a pitch that makes them feel confident and safe in their gender.
Ennis: Her focus on her voice is not surprising -- given how hers sounds the same as "Bruce's" voice, a masculine voice. So many trans women I know wish they could have the reverse effect you and other trans men typically achieve with testosterone.
Milan: But at the same time there are lots of transfolks who don’t fret over their voice at all which is a testament to the diversity of the transgender experience.
Ennis: True, and I think it's very revealing that instead of working on her voice, she thinks surgery could be a quick fix. Moving on, I was floored by how people I know or want to know appeared with Cait this week:
Milan: Jen Richards is an amazing friend and colleague of mine and I was so proud to see her bring a different context in the room about the lived experience of transwomen.
Ennis: And at long last we got to see Jenny Boylan, the professsor and pioneer who hasn't been given the credit she deserves for all the work she's done consulting with ABC, E! and directly with Cait herself. But I don't think I've ever seen anyone, even her wife, boss Jennifer Finney Boylan around like Caitlyn does! Still, it was wonderful to see Jenny confide with us, the viewers, and also with Jen, that Cait thinks "being a woman is a party," that it's "all about makeup and hair," and that "she's oblivious," meaning Cait.
Milan: The sisterhood that's created around Caitlyn is a great thing to see on such a large platform. It reminds me of the group conversations that we would have with trans youth at community centers and clinics, building community among people with whom you have a common struggle or narrative: “Why not use love?”
Ennis: One of my favorite moments was a far too short conversation about sex work and the magnificent Angelica Ross breaking it down with other trans women, talking about social economics.
Milan: The road trip there was revealing. Solidarity among trans and cis women is key to progress, but Caitlyn’s conservative views are completely off base. The idea that people who utilize social programs are lazy, unmotivated or complacent is classist and racist propaganda that is used to further disenfranchise poor people.
Ennis: That was both my fave moment, and also the one in which I cringed the hardest: the look on their faces, the raised eyebrows, the dropped jaws as they heard Cait's honest views on welfare programs and "handouts." Priceless.
Milan: And being cash poor effect intersects with trans identity as well as p.o.c identity more than anything. There are so many factors and "the bubble" that Caitlyn has been in has kept her misinformed about that.
Ennis: Yeah, that flowed well from their earlier conversation, in which they shared their experiences and gave Cait a glimpse into life beyond "the bubble."
Milan: Why do you think there was such an emphasis on cultivating Cailtyln into a spokesperson?
Ennis: I struggle with this, because Jenner herself has said she doesn't want to be, yet that seems to be where this whole thing is headed. Perhaps it's inevitable, given her past as a motivational speaker and the emphasis this week on voice. But the voices America really needs to hear are those who don't have all this privilege. She needs to be raising those voices, and I worry as Jenny and Jen do: is she listening? Since she's an executive producer of this series, I think so, and hope so.
Milan: So... Candis and Caitlyn? Is it for dramatic effect or a real thing?
Ennis: Oh, goodness. I don't know, but that will certainly be a popular topic of conversation. Hey, if it's real, good for them.
Watch the clip in which Jenny Boylan, Jen Richards and Cait's other new trans friends come face to face with her conservative views for the first time, from the second episode of E!'s I Am Cait, below, and watch the full episode online here:
Caitlyn Jenner was asked "the question" in episode three of her docu-series on E!, I Am Cait: Who do you find more sexually attractive, men or women? But more important than her answer was the former Olympian's visible and earnest efforts to connect with real live trans adults, including women of color.
For week three, I'm joined by Tony Zosherafatain, the director of I Am the T, a documentary about trans people around the world. Tony's trans activism began at his alma mater, Wesleyan University, in 2008. He is a trans health advocate and is currently pursuing his Masters in Nursing at New York University. Tony is working toward becoming an out nurse-practitioner, focusing on trans-inclusive endocrinology, while continuing to produce I Am the T.
Ennis: Now, maybe it's hormones, maybe it's where I am in my life, or maybe it's just because there were so many women crying in this episode, but I was in tears, so many times.
Tony Zosherafatain: Same! I was thinking to myself, Did I do my weekly T shot wrong today? The tears were running. My roommates kept asking if I was OK. There were just so many raw moments where each woman discussed her past.
Ennis: My biggest question to you, as a trans man, is, Did you relate at all? Was it foreign to you or did you see things that a transgender man can identify with?
Zosherafatain: I definitely found points that I could relate to. The part where Blossom Brown discusses not getting into nursing school because she’s trans really got to me. It really struck a chord, because I want to work in healthcare, too, and I experienced transphobia while in school. It’s just so real — the everyday discrimination that we as trans people face.We need more trans people like Blossom in health care.
I think the anxiety that comes with putting on a bathing suit that accords with your gender is also something I identified with. The scene where Cait says she “felt free” being in the pool with a bikini on reminded me of the first time I went swimming shirtless after chest surgery.
Ennis: This is the second of two episodes focusing on the bond between trans women, and I wonder if, as a trans man, did you feel ignored or erased?
Zosherafatain: I definitely did not feel excluded as a trans man. Of course, our stories are not entirely the same, but there are definitely similar emotional chords that unite our experiences.
Ennis: I mean, if you were cisgender and basing your view on this episode, it's almost as if trans women are the only kind of trans.
Zosherafatain: I can see that a cis [nontransgender] person watching the show may get the idea that there are only trans women who exist. I’ve definitely had people look at me in awe when I tell them I’m a trans man — they don’t understand the concept of being female to male, rather than the other way around. I do feel like it would be nice for a trans man to be included on the show or at least mentioned, but at the same time, trans women do face higher rates of violence.
Ennis: I was glad to see they expanded the visit to the Human Rights Campaign in San Francisco and was so glad to see Cait moved by the tales from the trans women of color, including Angelica Ross and Blossom.
Zosherafatain: I agree! It seemed like Cait is now very open to hearing about the experiences of trans women of color and those who are less privileged than she is. Perhaps the producers intended this — it really conveyed the disparities that exist within our community and how the double-edged sword of transphobia and racism can make life that much more difficult for a trans woman of color.
Drian Juarez, who discussed her previous employment in sex work, also shed light on a reality that many trans women face today. Her portrayal of almost being killed one night while working was another tearjerker.
Ennis: OMG, yes. And that's what has been missing: the real, true dangers of being a trans woman who doesn't live in Malibu. But it's clear to me Cait gets it, as shown by her surprising, selfless, generous gift to Blossom. It was both unexpected and heartwarming, and as Candis said, it's not like she can save the world.
Zosherafatain: That seemed like a genuine moment on Cait’s part; I’m glad she will be helping Blossom out. I agree with Candis, though — Cait can’t save the world. Lives will be changed, but it’s going to take systemic change, like fighting for health care coverage, to really impact the entire trans community.
Ennis: I chatted briefly with Blossom online after the show. She told me she had no idea of Caitlyn's amazing gift until she saw it on TV like all of us. Blossom also told The Advocate she's not yet heard from Ellen DeGeneres; we'll follow up with her show Monday. She gave me permission to share her Facebook post here:
"Omg! I have been trying to compose myself for hours now but I totally have to post this! I truly enjoyed getting to hang out with these beautiful ladies! They felt more like older sisters to me! They are so empowering and yet we must be mindful that we are only a handful of transwomen as compared to so many other transwomen who need their story told especially here in the deep south where I live! I hope our stories continue to multiply and that people understand that we deserve to live our lives in this world just as everyone else! P.S. I haven't forgotten Caitlyn by a long shot! smile emoticon So nice to meet these beautiful ladies and I hope our paths cross again soon! #iamcait #girlslikeus #transisbeautiful #transtruth"
Ennis: On the downside, we are constantly reminded of Cait's distance from the world of Blossom, in that she can have all these amazing homes opened up for her and her friends, and do all these things on the spur of the moment, from roller skating to motocross biking to wine tasting, but that's so far removed from our reality. I mean, yes, I'm jealous, and yet at the same time I worry that people might not understand being trans is almost always the polar opposite of being wealthy.
Zosherafatain: Yeah, I think there is this notion that “trans is in vogue” that makes people associate being trans with being glamorous and wealthy. The reality is, the life Cait has isn’t obtainable for a lot of trans people. And like many others, we occupy many different socio-economic positions. I think we must disconnect the association to wealth.
Ennis: Yes. That said, I loved how in this episode, Cait really opened up about her fears, about letting down her kids.
Zosherafatain: The part where she began crying talking about her family was very touching. I think every trans person struggles with family issues, whether it be coming out to your parents or telling your children. My family actually disowned me at the beginning of my transition.
Ennis: Mine too. And she revealed her fears about, as you said, exposing herself in a bathing suit.
Zosherafatain: I think what all these different moments get at is exposing your private self. These moments of revelation can be very daunting.
Ennis: She's still obsessing about her voice,which she touched upon last week too. And for the first time, we're talking sex. Now, I don't think it matters nor should it be anybody's business what is between her legs, but it seems clear from the dinner conversation that Caitlyn is confirming what Vanity Fair reported, that she's opted to not undergo "bottom surgery." What's more important to me is her very limited definition of femininity, in that having a man pay attention to a woman is what makes her feel more feminine.
Zosherafatain: I wanted to go through my TV and explain the distinction between gender and sexuality to Cait. I think this form of thinking is still prevalent in society — believing that a woman only dresses nicely to attract the male gaze. I wonder if Cait’s views on gender will evolve?
Ennis: Gosh, I hope so! Has she NEVER met a lesbian??? Hello?
Zosherafatain: Seriously. It’s almost as if she’s not OK with being a woman who is mostly attracted to women.
Ennis: I'm loving how Jennifer Finney Boylan answered Cait's comment about feminity very securely and completely without invalidating Cait's view: that she has always been attracted to women and that she doesn't think that being a woman attracted to women makes her any less feminine.
Zosherafatain: I loved that part! Jenny Boylan is like the wise woman on the show, and she’s such an academic badass. Boylan is right — your sexuality shouldn’t definite your gender, and vice versa. It’s about being who you are without caring about what society thinks about you. There are plenty of trans people who are gay, straight, bi, queer, pansexual, you name it. One identity doesn’t make you any less or any more trans.
Ennis: So true. And more than ever, this episode showcased Jenny — someone so different in every way from Cait — as a major force in the formation of both Cait as a person and the direction of this docu-series. We hear her talk about adjusting your voice to suit others: "This is it, people!" She makes the case for why trans women riding motorcycles is relevant: "Do something new. Do something brave. Do it out in the open." And we see her offering personal stories of being bullied, counseling Ronda, Cait's best friend and right-hand woman, then she's off roller skating, biking, swimming, and she has all the funniest lines too! "Watch my eyelashes disappear!"
Zosherafatain: I absolutely love Boylan’s character and her role in the show. She really is like the wise spirit guide to Cait and many of the other characters. Funny story: Boylan went to my alma mater, and I remember reading her book She's Not There while figuring out my own gender identity. She is such an academic force, and I’m glad that she is on the show. It helps draw attention away from the Kardashian elements of the show. I really feel like Boylan understands gender norms and can help steer the series in a direction that is very trans-positive.
Ennis: I think the part that needs to be underscored for trans women and those who love us is this concept of what Jenny called "the pink cloud." We are so thrilled to be living in the real world, we seldom remember those who stood by us before, and it's a good thing to come back to ground level and reconnect, if possible.
Zosherafatain: Yeah, I can definitely remember that cloud at the beginning of my own transition, even if mine wasn't pink. It’s almost like we become so consumed by what’s happening to our body that we forget about the outside world. Not because we intend to, but because it’s such a new feeling — to be comfortable with ourselves.
Ennis: That's the whole point, and Cait drove it home, how comfortable she felt this week. And for the second week in a row the producers are building up the Cait and Candis romance. Now, is this just reality TV, or am I right to feel a bit manipulated in that we keep hearing about it, without actually seeing it, until they finally go off together? Next week should give us more to see, it seems.
Zosherafatain: Yeah I’m not sure if Candis is into Cait. I feel like the whole thing is just being done for drama. I hope that’s not the case, but it’s E! after all. It would be nice to see Cait happy with someone though.
Ennis: I agree, Tony, and thank you for joining me on the sofa this week. But I have to say, this series is far and away different from everything E! has done before, so I feel I have to repeat that I remain impressed. It's clearly not meant to be every trans person's story, but there's a lot here that hits home. And it's not really meant for us, anyway.
A friend who teaches high school in Louisiana posted this on my Facebook wall, after watching I Am Cait:
"I'm watching for no intended purpose beyond reality TV entertainment with my 14-year-old. I Am Cait gave him a spontaneous opportunity to ask questions like,"what does someone do when they transition with the surgery?" And, "why do some people transition in high school?" He also asked if in the past transgender people were not accepted like today. "Yeah, it's kinda recent and a work in progress" [she told him].
"This conversation occurred in a red state cisgender household -- he has never to his knowledge met a transgender individual (he knows of friends of mine in far away places, like Dawn, who have transitioned over the past few years though) — his teenage understanding is mostly shaped by what he sees on TV, especially from Caitlyn Jenner. That is the real value of this show." — Ashley Heyer Casey, Baton Rouge, La.
Watch the clip in which Candis Cayne and Cait's other new trans friends discuss dating, below, or click here to watch all of episode three of E!'s I Am Cait:
Two of Caitlyn Jenner's stepdaughters confront their father, the former Olympian meets transgender pioneer Kate Borstein as well as Chaz Bono, and the cameras accompany her to a slumber party at the home of potential love interest Candis Cayne. Those were just some of the highlights of episode four of I Am Cait on E!
For this episode, I was honored to be joined by trans man Aidan Key, co-author of Trans Bodies, Trans Selves and founder of the Gender Odyssey conference. Key’s work to increase understanding and awareness of gender identity in all people has taken him from kindergarten classes to boardrooms. He has guided many schools and organizations in expranding their anti-discrimination language to include gender identity/expression and in understanding the practical, everyday ways in which to implement these new policies.
Key: I agree. This went beyond the wow-you-are-so-brave-and-we-all-still-love-you refrain that, for many friends or family members of a trans person, falls into the category of how one is "supposed" to respond. The first response falls more into the category of, "I love you, I'm open-minded, bashing trans people is not cool, and the camera is rolling." This episode went further.
Ennis: We've been seeing Cait worry about her family, and disappointing them. And this week she had to listen to her daughters tell her just that.
Key: Of course there can be a myriad of feelings inspired by a person's gender transition, especially if it came unexpectedly. As the anger, distress, and confusion find an outlet, a friend or family member often has no problem finding validation from others for these feelings but with no guidance as to how to move through them. As I watched Khloe and Kim express their anger, I couldn't help but think that all they've heard from others may have been along the lines of, "Yeah, that's really effed up!"
Ennis: My own experience tells me you're right. Those who have given me grief often cited what their friends told them, as if that should matter!
Key: Who among us, as transgender people, has not been accused of selfishness as we move forward in one of the scariest and most courageous paths we will likely ever take? Yes, the distress that others feel is valid. It needs an outlet. The transgender person however should not be the dumping ground. Many of us have been told that our choices are what brought about the harsh repercussions -- loss of family, loss of job, loss of respect, loss of safety, loss of life. The only choice Caitlyn made was to continue living, truthfully, authentically for the first time in her life.
Ennis: That's a choice all of us who are trans face. And it was clear her daughters understand her challenge but feel as though she's forgetting her family.
Key: What really came through loud and clear for me was two children, who recognize that their mother is suffering, and need to lay some blame. Cait's gender transition just makes for an easy target. Is Kris suffering? Probably. Are the children angry? Sure. That is not so unique to the ending of a 25-year old relationship regardless of the circumstances. I found myself hollering at Kim (well, the TV really), "See how gracious, civil and respectful you will be when (I should say, "if", but it's Hollywood after all) your marriage ends!! It ain't the transition, sweetheart. Hope your child isn't there schooling you when...I mean, if... that time comes!"
Ennis: When Kim told her father, "You've got the fame but you're losing the family," hit right at the core of Cait's fears.
Key: Sounded a tiny bit like blackmail to me. Toe the line or else. What many of us have had to do, and Cait will also have to determine, is how much of the distress of others should she shoulder? And, for how long? How much will she apologize to others for their reactions? Will she ultimately believe that "she did this to them?" I hope not for too long.
Ennis: This is certainly the biggest personal battle she's faced. And at a time in which trans people are increasingly under attack.
Key: Transphobia is strong as ever. Telling the truth, living truthfully, is something Caitlyn finally found the courage to do despite the "freak" factor. Yes, this impacts others but that is life. I am delighted that Cait wants to make a difference in the perceptions of others, or to "normalize" it as she says. I hear from many parents of trans children that they "wish their child was just gay." Not because gay is better but because the presence of gays and lesbians is prevalent and accepted - i.e. normal. I look forward to the day when a gender transition falls into the same category. Then we will see the anger of Khloe and Kim as simply an example of the anger of two children who are feeling protective of their mother at the end of a relationship.
Ennis: This week we saw how Cait's closet is full of lingerie, and later trying on clothes with Candis Cayne. It's yet another "D'oh!" moment, as the trans experience is presented as a fashion show. It's so much more.
Key: Cait is like a kid in a candy store for the first time. Who can blame her for wanting to dig in and do "girl things." I am glad she has a friend like Candis with whom she can feel relaxed and have fun. Interesting subtle flirtation going on but ultimately I am rooting for a solid friendship.
Ennis: What a treat to see Cait meeting the legend that is Kate Bornstein! Hopefully she opened Cait's eyes. "Owning the freakdom" -- what a great message!
Key: I think Caitlyn will look back on her time with the paradigm-shifter Kate Bornstein and understand more of what she was saying. I love Kate's comments about the word "ally" being troublesome. What else did she say? "Learn to jump!" Amen to that! Early in my transition, a person once asked me if I was a man or a woman, and I said, "YES!" He didn't like that but, hey, we need to own our truths! Do I give him the answer he needs? If my safety depends on it, sure, otherwise I have a universe-given task of speaking truthfully. We need to own it!
Ennis: Kate is also right about the difference between being an accepting person vs. being an ally. And I loved what she said about the first step of being a good ally: "ask."
Key: There is no better person on the planet, at least my tiny experience of it, that has more gender wisdom, humor, insight, compassion and fierceness than the indomitable Kate B. Caitlyn could indeed change the world with Kate as a mentor, friend and guide.
Ennis: And I think it was good that she wisely reminded Cait that she is in beginning another adolescence.
Key: I look forward to the day when the media -- the rest of the world, really -- stops asking newly-transitioning people like Caitlyn, to explain what it means to be transgender. She can explain what it means to embark on her journey but that is about it. Caitlyn owns that, to be sure. I respect that greatly. Would we ask an 11-year old girl just starting puberty to explain what it means to be a woman? No. That comes with time, life experience. I would like to challenge the media to allow their questions and focus to mature a little bit. Being transgender is so much more than clothes, surgery, and how did your mother, spouse, child, brother, sibling, employer, next door neighbor, and phlebotomist react to your transition?
Ennis: The scene with the gender therapist was very brief but she provided some valuable advice: you can't force acceptance.
Key: I have had the pleasure of hearing the gentle wisdom of Susan Landon and it was a sweet surprise to see her on the show again.
Ennis: She appeared in the first episode making a house call, holding a group therapy session with Cait, her mother and two sisters.
KEY: I would add to what Susan said, that while you can't force acceptance, you can raise the bar high and absolutely expect it....eventually.
Ennis: How great to see Chaz Bono -- he is the first trans man to appear on I Am Cait. "I can learn a lot from him," says Cait -- and wow, he looked fabulous!
Key: Love me some Chaz! Never thought I would see a celebrity transition that would eclipse the child of Sonny and Cher! Maybe if Barack were to transition...
Ennis: OMG, let's not go there! How about when Cait and Candis met the trans kids and their parents -- such brave children!
Key: Yes, brave children. But they have the blessing of childhood optimism. That can help so much. The parents on the other hand? They often have to find their way through so many barriers while simultaneously navigating fear for their child's safety, contempt or ridicule from society directed at both them and their child, and finding the strength to stand up and advocate for their trans child! How many of them, prior to learning about their own kid, would have watched Caitlyn's journey with the word "freak" on the tip of their tongues, I wonder? Love is a powerful motivator.
Ennis: The dad of a trans child who says, "You are living with a unicorn!" Loved that!
Key: That dad's beard! He rocked it! I misted up when one of the moms said that she didn't know how strong she herself could be. And that she learned about strength from her child!
Ennis: And then Cait visited her stepdaughter Khloe. I cringed when she bragged about Donatello Versace sending her a purse not yet "on the market" along with designer sunglasses -- yet another thing to highlight the difference between her transition and the rest of the trans world! Well, at least her meeting with Khloe started very friendly. Then Cait told her she's learning about the problem of trans homelessness. "Aww" says Khloe. "That's not good." FACEPALM!
Key: Yeah, followed by Caitlyn saying, "Well, enough about that!" Ugh. Now, if you want a true transition story, let's have the Donald Trumpster try to survive working two or three minimum wage jobs!
Ennis: The family seems fixated on the "Distraction" quote in Vanity Fair. That her children were a distraction.
Key: Distraction wasn't the right word to use, to be sure, but I bet Caitlyn knows that now. How many trans people spent a chunk of their lives with our attempts to give society what it demanded rather than what we needed? I wouldn't call it a distraction, I would call it trying to survive. At some point, when the cabin loses air pressure, we really need to do what is so often advised. Don your own oxygen masks first...
Ennis: That is good advice I often repeat! And how about Khloe's advice that they "conversate" -- sorry, Khloe, but that's not a word.
Key: Ultimately, this family has a way of navigating life that I can't fathom. The lack of privacy has got to be debilitating at times. I, for one, hope that this family, like so many I have met, turns this challenging time into one that really strengthens them in the long run. As bumpy as the ride has been thus far, the fact that they are still standing says something. I hope they stay the course!
Watch the clip in which Cait meets Chaz Bono, below, or click here to watch all of episode four of E!'s I Am Cait.
Caitlyn Jenner confronted fears in episode five of I Am Cait on E!, including face to face meetings with a male member of the family and a male friend and -- for the first time -- the public.
This week I was joined by trans man Ethan St. Pierre, a gender activist in New England who has been lobbying Congress on behalf of hate crime victims and survivors since 1991. He is no stranger to the impact of hatred and bias: he is the nephew of Debra Forte, a transgender woman murdered in Haverhill, Massachusetts in May 1995.
St. Pierre was a board member of Families United Against Hate and the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Antiviolence Project, and for a decade worked with the Remembering Our Dead Project as coordinator of The International Transgender Day of Remembrance, investigating and updating the statistics of those who are murdered as a result of anti-transgender hatred or bias. He's the creator of founder of TransFM internet broadcasting network; you can find his recorded podcasts here. And St. Pierre now cohosts the Becky Juro Show Sunday nights at 7 P.M. EDT on BlogTalk Radio.
Ennis: This week's show started with the Los Angeles Trans Pride event, and featured some "trans on the street" interviews about Cait. Unbenownst to me, my dear friend Gillian Cameron appeared, saying, "This person is a human and not a monster -- and that's what it's about."
Ethan St. Pierre: Perhaps Caitlyn is raising the bar on monsters. Maybe we should stop seeing ourselves as monsters and start thinking of ourselves as beautiful beings.
Ennis: The theme this week is clearly about how Cait sees herself. Her friend Candis Cayne confronted her, more than once, about how she kept using "they" to refer to the transgender community.
St. Pierre: My first thought was that Cait felt above our community and didn't see herself as one of us. Then I remembered my own experience when I was new, and how I didn't feel part of the community either, at least not until I applied myself, introduced myself and made friends. I think that perhaps Cait was experiencing the same disconnect. I think we could all learn by using the word "we." (Education points).
Ennis: What did you think when Scott Disick visited, and Cait said, "I'm the same person with icing on the cake?"
St. Pierre: Yes, we are always the same person that we knew ourselves to be but from the outside looking in, we appear much different. We may have grappled with being trans our whole lives but this is brand-spanking-new to those around us.
Ennis: I still cannot figure out why Cait continually refers to herself in the third person.
St. Pierre: Although I never referred to myself in the third person, I can understand that she's still getting used to herself. I had the luxury of my transition not being so public, my mirror was my own.
Ennis: Well, mine was made public, thanks to the tabloids. And when Sarah Kate Ellis and Nick Adams at GLAAD talked about the media with Cait, they made the point of how wrong it was for them to out a trans person.
St. Pierre: The news headlines have always been a thorn in my side, whether people are identified ans transgender, gay, black or whatever. The headline has always served as a purpose of sensationalism and/or exploitation.
Ennis: I smiled in recognition over that joy Cait felt in the simple act of her male acquaintance changing her name in his contacts list.
St. Pierre: I get that. When I knew I gained acceptance of my cis friends, it may seem simple but getting pronouns correct was always the big thing.
Ennis: How about Cait's remark on what she says is a surprise to her about the trans community, a reference perhaps to what Kate Borstein said last week: "They're so they're damn normal... not freaks."
St. Pierre: I cringe at the word "normal." Just saying.
Ennis: Well, a lot of people had that same reaction to the word, "freak." But it was nice to see Cait finally say "we," when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality: "We still have a long way to go," she said. But then I was sad when Sergio the model helicopter guy didn't show, and she remarked it was her first time being stood up. What surprised me was Cait deciding she would go to Sergio's hobby shop by herself. No security, no paparazzi. It was smart of Executive Producer Andrea Mertz to pre-interview Sergio, who told her he was nervous about meeting Cait. When she walked in, he looked uncomfortable. "Things haven't changed," she said, and Sergio told Cait, "What matters is your happiness." But then he admitted, it was "kind of awkward... whatever makes him happy -- or her." I cringed, knowing this is a common experience. And it's going to be harder because she's so famous, especially when she decides she is ready to date. Did you face a similar circumstance?
St. Pierre: Although I feel for Cait and I know this can be a lonely place sometimes, the dating scene was never my lonely place. I've been married for 12 years.
Ennis: Well, then she's a lucky woman! Like Cait says, "it's better to go through life with friends."
St. Pierre: Cue song: "I am a rock, I am an Island."
Ennis: Ha! That song has a special meaning for my best friend, and I doubt she's alone in that. So, this week, Candis and Chandi took Cait to New York, so she could attend Pride. And while there, they talked about that old debate, LGB versus T and how she feels that trans folks have always been at the "bottom of the totem pole." And Chandi complained how "gay boys" don't support trans people.
St. Pierre: I found it difficult to hear that (yes, I know we have always been at the bottom of the barrel) but instead of rising above that, instead of being strong for transgender people and speaking on our own behalf, why are some of us still asking gay men to speak for us or asking anyone else to speak for us?
Ennis: Exactly. But how great was it to see Cait cheered when she appeared at Candis's show at Pride. Her first public outing, which she was so scared to face, was a complete success. Kate Borstein told her, "you're opening doors for us."
St. Pierre: I agree with Kate Bornstein, Cait is opening doors for us, but I have to add that if it wasn't for people like Kate Bornstein, that door would still be attached to Cait's closet.
Ennis: True, and it's important that the pioneers' contributions are being included in this series. This episode definitely ended on a high note, with cheering crowds on Broadway, and Cait saying, "It's been an amazing journey for me and I'm seeing it all come true." But it looks like tough times ahead again next week when Jenny Boylan calls out Cait for not facing her sexuality.
Watch the clip below in which Cait, Candis and Chandi try on clothes at Patricia Field's shop in New York City, from E!'s I Am Cait, and click here to watch the full episode.
"We live in a world that has no place for us," Zackary Drucker told Caitlyn Jenner and friends as they traded dating nightmare tales. In week six, I Am Cait focused on love: finding it, losing it, keeping it and being honest with ourselves about it. And Cait got called on the carpet by the indomitable Jennifer Finney Boylan.
For this episode I was joined by trans man Gunner Scott of Seattle. Scott is director of programs at the Pride Foundation, who "eats fire for social justice, DJs lefty dance parties, and thinks way too much about politics." And on his website he describes himself as an activist, photographer, artist, traveler, and reluctant writer.
Gunner Scott: I felt so uncomfortable for Cait as she discussed dating with Jenny. A conversation about fear and it was so public.
Dawn Ennis: Well, full disclosure to our readers, you and I are both Facebook friends with Boylan. And she told me this confrontation about sexuality was the moment in the whole series of which she was most proud: a crash course, if you will, in feminism.
"Caitlyn Jenner you're pulling back on me," Boylan said. She compared how Jenner avoided the gender question all her adult life, first with the Olympics and then over and over with her families: "You're running away."
And then Cait stepped in it for realz, telling JFB, "I want to be a 'normal' woman," and talking about how a man treats her makes her feel more feminine. To me, Jenny was right on target, saying, "You don't need a man to make you a woman." I'll admit, I was cheering! And Boylan's other zinger was: "You went to so much trouble to be a woman. Don't be a stupid one." That was hardcore, Jenny, and you know what? I'm proud of you. But Gunner, why did that scene make you feel uncomfortable?
Scott: Topics like dating and love after transitioning typically take place in the safety of a support group, with close friends, and for some with a therapist.
Ennis: Point taken, but nothing about what's happened to Cait, even before she came out, is "typical." She told Boylan, "I'll play that card someday," excusing herself from facing he own sexuality because she is "focused on educating people."
Scott: I found it interesting that Cait is "obsessed" with educating people about transgender people and experiences, like none of us have been doing that for years, even before she won her Olympic Gold medal or Stonewall happened.
I think she should spend some time with some grassroots activists, outside California, and learning some transgender history.
Scott: I would suggest she read Transgender History (Seal Studies) by Susan Stryker, Stonewall by Martin Duberman, and Nobody Passes: Rejecting the Rules of Gender and Conformity by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore.
Ennis: What did you think about that dinner with Zackary Drucker, Jen Richards, Chandi Moore, Candis Cayne, and other trans women -- oh, and wouldn't it be nice if we all had our own private chef to cook for us?!?
Scott: Watching Cait interact with the world is surreal, from the dinner scene, to visiting the camp for transgender youth. The reality that 99.9 percent of transgender people's experience is NOT what Cait is experiencing by virtue of her privilege and wealth. She can be in the L.A. bubble.
Ennis: Well, Jenner looked pained to be outside her comfort zone at the Abbey, as hunky men cavorted in tiny bikini briefs. I've been there, had fun, and it looked like nothing short of torture for Cait. I wouldn't mind seeing more of that, and hearing more trans dating horror stories.
Scott: The dinner scene seemed contrived, but the honesty of Zackary talking about how the world sees transgender people: "the world has no place for transgender people." And Cait's reaction to that revelation was one of the most authentic and real moments on the show, which otherwise feels like the "Real Housewives" without all the yelling and screaming.
Ennis: What about that statment one woman made about trans men? That you don't "come with the shame that a cis male comes with."
Scott: I found the dinner conversation of suggesting Cait date a trans man funny and uncomfortable, as though we are a better alternative to cis men, which feels like they could have just said "real men" in place of cis, because contrary to the conversation, some transgender men do bring the same baggage as cisgender men to relationships ... and then again, some of us are gay! As Jenny noted in the earlier scene to Cait, that she is a real woman, so are trans men real men.
Ennis: I was moved as Candis talked about her lonely life in L.A. She's clearly reaching out to Cait for more than friendship. Not sure if Cait is seeing what we are seeing!
Scott: I found the scenes between Cait and Candis really sweet and and I think I would enjoy the show much more if the focus on was on their relationship and how it evolves and less of the contrived scenes. The energy between Cait and Candis is real, and it comes through.
Ennis: But so is thre sorrow she feels, over what she described as "failed relationship after failed relationship." She confessed to Cait, "I allowed men to treat me the way no woman should be treated."
Scott: While the conversation about the domestic violence Candis experienced was heartbreaking, that was one of the most educational moments of the show: her description of how hard it is to leave is reality for too many transgender women and transgender men. Cait's reaction and her desire to give Candis hope and positivity was lovely to watch.
This episode gave visibility to an important issue: there is no language to positively describe those who are attracted to transgender people, and that the labels of sexual orientation currently do not capture that. There are also so few positive portrayals of happy and healthy couples where one or both are transgender people. The stigma of homophobia and transphobia is so deep that it stops love for so many of us.
Ennis: Another truly educational moment was when Cait and Jen Richards took Candis to a camp for trans children! Those kids were so honest, so strong, and heartwarming!
Scott: I appreciated the transgender youth speaking about their experiences and being able to see the great work Camp Aranu'tiq does for transgender teens and their families. But the episode made it seem like a stop-by for Cait and Candis. I hope that the youth got something out of the visit.
Ennis: What did you think when Jenner freaked out about having the matchmaker find her a date? And what was that tripe about how men think versus how women respond to his survey?
Scott: The dating coach... ugh. Really? Saying someone answers a question a certain way means they have masculine thinking ... because they think like an engineer? There are plenty of women who are engineers! I mean, really, can we just quit with the sexism and traditional gender roles?
Ennis: Yes, I thought that same thing when Cait pumped her gas, made a fuss about holding open the door for Candis, and took her car to a mechanic, as if she couldn't figure out how to do that herself? "You need someone in your life to take care of things," she said. Ugh, so chauvinist, was my first thought. But when I thought about, I realized it's really not that surprising a reaction, given that she is still learning who she is, and all those things Jenny Boylan tried to explain about being a woman and finding her place in our world.
Scott: The closing scenes with all the cars parked in Cait's driveway and the reality of her privilege and wealth just highlights for me the lack of resources the overall transgender movement has.
Ennis: And to top everything, then she rents Candis a Lamborghini! This week's second example of how her life is just soooo different from everyone else. Not just trans people, everyone. But, if we're being honest, who wouldn't like to be rich?
Scott: I hope at some point, if Cait really wants to educate people about the issues we face, she spends some time with grassroots transgender activists that are invisible to the larger public, but spend their lives trying to make the world a just and civil place for transgender people, particularly those facing violence, poverty, homelessness, and discrimination.
Ennis: I hope so too. At least she ended on a positive note, saying she doesn't know what the future holds: "I won't say no to anything."
Watch the clip below in which Jenner gets called out by Jenny Boylan, from E!'s I Am Cait, or click here to watch the full epsiode:
Caitlyn Jenner was challenged in this Labor Day Weekend episode to stop "living on both sides of the fence," prepared to face the public, and ultimately, her ex-wife, in this next-to-last episode.
Cait's friend and adviser Jennifer Finney Boylan made another appearance, and viewers had the pleasure of meeting Boylan's intelligent, beautiful and resilient wife, Deirdre ("Deedie"). Cait's mother and sister and her friends Candis Cayne, Jen Richards, and Chandi Moore also returned.
I think most viewers were likely shocked to learn Caitlyn Jenner was still willing to use her old name -- what trans folks often refer to as her "deadname" -- on an application for membership at a country club where she plays golf, and has maintained a locker as "Bruce Jenner" for years.
Not only was her assistant Ronda left speechless, but her close friend Candis left her no wiggle room, each reminding her there was no going back. Cayne went so far as to tell her she can't be both Bruce and Caitlyn, accusing Jenner of fence-squatting.
Chandi invited Cait and Candis to witness firsthand the struggle of correcting identity papers that trans people experience, by speaking with some young transitioners, face to face. It was another eye-opening scene thanks to some brave folks who get counseling at the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles Center for Trans Youth and Development
— Bernie (@chgo2ps1) September 7, 2015
Then, Jenner and her assistant got a one-on-one lesson in changing your name. This was a valuable experience to share with viewers who may have no clue how hard, or how important, this step can be.
— I Am Cait (@IAmCait) September 7, 2015
Drian Juarez, programming manager at the LGBT Center in Los Angeles, described changing her name as akin to "the day I was born."
— Ms. J. White Feather (@Storm_Rising) September 7, 2015
Another highlight, to be sure, was seeing Cait's mother, Esther, and sister, Pam, return for a visit, the night before the ESPYS. Jenner stood in front of a huge gathering of her peers, on live television, to accept the Arthur Ashe award for bravery. Esther was recovering from a fall in which she broke a hip.
— I Am Cait (@IAmCait) September 7, 2015
And for the first time we heard and saeew Cait talk about that huge moment, in which she came out for the first time as herself. It was just as emotional for me to watch, as it was when I saw her deliver this speechewe live at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.
— I Am Cait (@IAmCait) September 7, 2015
Not even half way into @IAmCait and I'm already emotional. Wow
— Savanah Elizabeth✨✨ (@LifeAfterLove83) September 7, 2015
But the scene in which Jenny introduces her friend Cait -- and viewers -- to her wife, Deedie, was perhaps my favorite. Deedie gives voice to those wives and husbands of transgender Americans who struggle with their loved one's transition, a sentiment that my wife, watching with me for the first time, appreciated. Not every trans woman is as lucky as Jenny Boylan.
— Jenny B. (@JennyBoylan) September 7, 2015
That scene set up the moment the series has been promoting for weeks: Kris Jenner met Cait face to face, for the first time since her transition. And Jenner conceded it's been months since they even spoke.
— I Am Cait (@IAmCait) September 7, 2015
— Julie Fitzsimmons (@Julieandfam) September 7, 2015
— JULIE (@julieabreu22) September 7, 2015
— TheMizz⚡️ (@MizzyII) September 7, 2015
— Aunt Tett Taylor (@tayzgirl) September 7, 2015
— Amy Elizabeth (@abrandt24) September 7, 2015
— MunMan715 (@MunMan715) September 7, 2015
Watch the clip below in which Jenner insists on filling out an application using her "deadname," Bruce.