In an one-on-one interview with Diane Sawyer, Bruce Jenner, the ex-husband of Kris Jenner, former Olympian, and patriarch of the Kardashian-Jenner clan, spoke candidly about his transition from man to woman.
The discussion aired on Friday and was watched by millions … except me. As a pop culture commentator, I will watch the interview eventually. But I’m waiting for the hype and hoopla to die down …for the millions of people who know nothing about the daily transphobic and racist structural violence experienced by trans people of color, to stop tweeting and posting about their newfound enlightenment.
And while I recognize the bravery it takes to speak and I support his transition, I fear that Bruce Jenner is becoming a symbol of trans identity — that his story is one that’s universally shared by all trans* people. But, his experience is softened by race and class privilege. Bruce Jenner is white and a prominent fixture within the massive Kardashian-Jenner media bubble, thus providing Jenner immeasurable access to safety, security, and fair media representation — privileges not afforded to most trans* people, especially those with Black skin.
This said, I could offer a solid analysis of the entire situation — how Jenner and the media circus is a great public relations boost to the Kardashian-Jenner circle, or how most folks don’t profit from their gender identity — but it’s really not my place. In recognizing my cis-gender privilege, I know I’m not the one who should represent or speak on behalf of trans* people of color.
So I’ll give L’lerrét Ailith, a trans woman of color, the space and exposure necessary to speak such a complicated truth. In this YouTube video, she effectively and graciously analyzes how systemic oppression and white privilege marginalizes trans* people of color, and she does so from her own lived experience.