Caitlyn Jenner and Kate Bornstein Talk About Being "Freaks" On 'I Am Cait' Docuseries
On Sunday's I Am Cait, titled "Family Interference," Caitlyn Jenner got to attend her very first bonafide slumber party at BFF (or BFF+, depending on whom you gossip with) Candis Cayne's house. Fellow attendees included none other than queer elder, artist, and gender theorist Kate Bornstein, author of the seminal transgender work Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us.
After a cute mini-flirtation that involved a lot of winking, Cait and Kate got down to a frank conversation about the "freak factor," as Bornstein called it, involved in living as a transgender woman.
"How I present myself to the world is important to me," Caitlyn shared, asking Bornstein how she survived being viewed as a "freak" for choosing to live authentically.
"The only way I've gotten through it is to own it," Bornstein advised. "Owning the freakdom with heart, and going, 'Yeah I'm a freak, and I love you, and I won't hurt you, and I won't be mean to you, and you have my word on that.'"
Though, as we saw with Jenner's family in the rest of this week's episode, sometimes your assurances that your transition won't hurt your family still isn't guarantee enough that they won't feel hurt. In a speech that may as well have been delivered directly to Kim and Khloe Kardashian, Bornstein elaborated on the difference between allyship and acceptance in a cutaway interview, saying:
"I have problems with the word 'ally.' Many people think, 'I accept you, therefore I'm an ally.' No, you're not. You're an accepting person. Ally means you ask me what I need. I tell you, and you tell me what or how much of that you can actually supply. If I say, 'I need help getting through that crowd of people who think I'm a freak, and I need you to be a bodyguard,' that would be an ally to me. Ask, don't assume you know. Don't assume that everybody's big issue is gender-free bathrooms. It's not. And for some people, it is the most pressing issue. Ask. That's the first step of being a good ally."
Back at the slumber party, Bornstein congratulated Caitlyn on "using [her] position and [her] privilege to do good," and explained her impending public trans experience as a kind of Puberty 2.0:
"One word of warning: you're entering an adolescence. You're going to go through everything you went through in adolescence before — it's going to happen again. This happens whenever someone takes on a new identity. It's all about, 'Oh my god, they're looking at me. What am I going to do?' And we learn to get through adolescence...When the rug gets pulled out from under you: jump."
Most trans* folks probably would have given anything for a sleepover with wise, cool Aunt Kate during their budding transition days. Luckily, every shiny new baby gender outlaw in the future can pull up this episode of I Am Cait and pretend like they're having one.
Images: Getty (2)