What Does Caitlyn Jenner's Name Mean? It's A Symbolic Choice That Honors Caitlyn's Journey And Her Heritage
It's a banner day for the Jenner/Kardashian clan. Not only did Kim Kardashian West announce her second pregnancy on Sunday's promo for the next episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, but the Vanity Fair cover introducing Caitlyn Jenner is out. It's a little hard for me to even write this without getting emotional, because this moment is so huge for the LGBTQIA community, and for her. And, let's be real: Caitlyn Jenner is STUNNING.
That's a Caitlyn with a "C," by the way, not "K" like the rest of her family. That, of course, says a lot as she steps forward from the spotlight of her famous family. The choice of Caitlyn with a "C" instead of its usual variant, "Kaitlynn," in a family whose names ALL start with "K," symbolizes not only her coming forward, but also a little of her stepping away from their limelight. "It's about my life and who I am as a person," Jenner says in a behind-the-scene video from the cover shoot. "It's not about the fanfare."
But the name means other things, too, and those meanings are definitely in line with what finally presenting publicly as a woman must represent for Jenner and for the entire transgender community. Caitlyn is an Irish female name, a variant of Katherine, and generally believed to mean pure, from the Greek word "katharos." For Jenner, selecting a name that has such a powerful meaning is significant. While some critics have horrifically suggested that she is putting on a female persona for publicity purposes, Jenner's name suggests the opposite: this transition is a stripping away of the male persona she has been forced to wear all her life in order to reveal her true self. "Bruce always had to tell a lie," she says in the video. "Caitlyn doesn't have any secrets."
The fact that Caitlyn is an Irish name is also telling. Even while coming forward publicly as a woman, Jenner is holding fast to who she has always been. Jenner's ancestry is a mix of English, Scottish, and Irish, and to select the Irish spelling of her name over the Americanized version (Kaitlynn) is to also hold fast to tradition and to her heritage.
With all of this in mind, the name seems absolutely perfect. It shows both her independence from her former identity (and her much-talked-about family), while paying homage to the traditions that have shaped her. Very well done, Caitlyn. Welcome to the world.
Images: Vanity Fair/YouTube