Caitlyn (pictured above center) was joined by her friends and co-stars (pictured left to right) Candis Cayne, Jennifer Finney Boylan, Ella Giselle and Chandi Moore for what turned out to be a very powerful session. “I really feel like we opened up this conversation, that it’s okay to talk about trans issues,” Caitlyn said of the first season of her series. “Every day of my life since I came out, somebody comes up to me and says, ‘I have a trans cousin.’ ‘I have a relative.’ All of a sudden, it’s okay to talk about this issue!
"That was, by far, probably the most important thing I think we did in Season 1," she continued. "But there are so many issues in this community that we really need to deal with and to talk about in the future, and that’s what Season 2 will be.” (Season 2 will begin in March.)
One critic wanted to know why Caitlyn remains a Republican given the party’s tendency to challenge issues of importance to women and the LGBT community – “which is your community,” the critic exclaimed. “Why not just support the political party that supports women’s rights, LGBT rights and gay marriage?”
“The Republicans haven’t been very good on this issue,” Caitlyn agreed. “Certainly the Democrats have been better. [But] isn’t it good [to have] somebody on the team that can go in there and maybe change their minds? That’s a good thing. That’s kind of the way I look at it.”
“We get into that a lot during Season 2,” Candis Cayne revealed. “We have these debates. I don’t know if we came to any conclusions, but at least we have the debates.”
“This is a very diverse group of transgender women, and that’s one thing that I hope people will learn about the transgender community, that we are not one voice,” Jennifer Finney Boylan said of her co-stars. “We are many, many voices, and some of us, in fact, are Republicans -- for now! One of the things that we found this season was that we all, in spite of all our differences, came together and really found a genuine affection and love for each other.”
“I thought it was great because I’ve never listened to anything that Republicans had to say,” Chandi Moore offered. “Cait actually said some things that did make a lot of sense, not that it would change my opinion, but it was great to [have] someone who I trust to tell me about those things and have me be able to look at things a little differently. So a lot of good did come out of hearing about it, but I’m not changing.”
Few people have lived as diversified a life in the public eye as Jenner – both as Olympian, aspiring actor and reality television star Bruce and reality star and transgender icon Caitlyn. Certainly, living so public an existence brings with it endless scrutiny and criticism. “Yes, there’s criticism out there,” Caitlyn acknowledged, adding, “I am not a spokesman for this community. Everybody in the media kind of puts me in that [position] because obviously I’m in the media a lot. But I am only a spokesman for me and my story. I have so much to learn in this community. I have so much to learn about trans issues. I have so much to learn about womanhood. There’s a lot for me to learn. I’m only nine months out now.”
Candis Cayne had something to say about fame, too. “Just being an open and out there trans woman is hugely important. Now, people are actually coming up to me and thanking me for what I’m doing for the community, and it’s a really powerful thing to have people say that and know that we are not just making a difference in Los Angeles. We are making a difference around the world. I’ve been in this community for 20 years as an open trans woman, and we’ve been fighting the fight, but we are really very happy that Caitlyn decided to come out, and it’s made it a global presence.”
“When I was 18, I went to the library at Wesleyan University to learn about people like me, and there was nothing, or what there was, was actually wrong,” Jennifer Finney Boylan recalled. “I think all of us sometimes miss our privacy a little bit, but I know that this visibility brings acceptance. Visibility will help bring about equality. I know that the 18-year-old version of me now goes to the library or turns on the E! network and sees Caitlyn Jenner, Candis Cayne [and] 18-year-old Ella Giselle and will see there’s someone like me. I exist in the world.”
Ella Giselle, a recent high school graduate who is joining the series in its second season, said, “Watching ‘I Am Cait’ [last] year was like this legitimizing moment of who I was. I had transitioned over the summer after junior year and come back as myself. And the moment Cait came out and the show started … I wasn’t just that person that people didn’t really care to know [about].”
“I want to change people’s thinking on this issue,” Caitlyn asserted. “I am with the greatest group of women you could possibly be with. These are smart, intelligent, fun people to be around, and they need to be represented positively out there. It’s very easy for reporters, for people, to dwell on some of the negative issues, and we certainly do have some really tough issues with suicides, with the murder rate. Last year, we had twice as many murders [of trans women] as we had the year before.
“I want people to know that these are normal people,” she continued. “This is not an issue that has borders. This is an issue that is global. It is all over the world. I mean, I would love to take this show global. I want to see what trans issues are all around the world. In 90 out of the 193 member nations in the U.N., [to be in] the LGBT community is a criminal offense. You could be put in jail. You could be executed. There are bigger issues on a global basis.”
Reminded by one critic that Jenner’s previous series “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” is so successful because it shows how the “other half” lives, Caitlyn was quick to separate it from “Cait.” “It was a conscious decision that I wanted this show to be about the issues,” she asserted. “I really wanted people to get to know all of my girls, everybody that’s involved with the show. This is a different show. This is about a serious issue, and so I wanted to somewhat keep that distance.”
Asked if she could imagine ever living life outside of the public eye, Caitlyn replied, “Honestly, I really have never [sought] fame and all of that kind of stuff. That’s just not me. The only thing that I have struggled with my whole life is finding inner peace. I have found that. I knew I had to [come out] publicly just because I was getting trashed so badly [in the tabloids]."
Caitlyn praised Diane Sawyer of ABC News for theinterview she did with her last year, as well as the editors of Vanity Fair and photographer Annie Liebovitz. “To be honest with you, after that I really haven’t done very much [press]. I did a small piece on ‘Ellen’ and a small piece for the ‘Today’ show. But, after that, I have done no media. It may not seem that way, but I really haven’t.
“I want to do this properly. I want this community to be represented the right way. The platform is not for me. It is for this community. It’s for everybody up here. It’s for all of the people that we just went out and met across the United States of America, and if my celebrity helps in doing that and making it better for the next generation of trans people coming up, baby, I’m all in!
“I have been very blessed. I am the exception to the rule. I’ve seen nothing but love. People every day of my life come up and thank me, you know. So I’ve been very, very blessed, but I know it’s not that way for so many people in this community.”
Asked for tips on staying in shape and looking one’s best, Caitlyn advised, “Eat your Wheaties!” Only people of a certain age in the room laughed.
Image at top courtesy of NBC.