In an extraordinary feat of courage, Caitlyn Jenner has graced the front page of Vanity Fair magazine, finally releasing herself to the world.
The image of a strong, confident woman has sparked a huge wave of acceptance and praise from social media channels around the world.
Earlier this year, Caitlyn announced her transition to the world during a Diane Sawyer interview for 20/20. Following that interview, she had asked for time and space to transition the way she needed to – before she was ready to reveal her name.
Shot by Annie Leibowitz, the cover acted as an announcement to the world about Jenner’s complete transition to womanhood, a debut she had been waiting to make her entire life.
“If I was lying on my deathbed and I had kept this secret and never ever did anything about it, I would be lying there saying, ‘You just blew your entire life’. You never dealt with yourself, and I don’t want that to happen,” Jenner told Buzz Bissinger.
Transgender advocates around the world applauded the courageous cover, stating it was bringing the world one step closer to building awareness for the transgender community.
“By sharing her journey with the world, Caitlyn Jenner is accelerating acceptance of transgender people everywhere and reminds us all how important it is to live as your most authentic self,” said GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis.
Another spokesperson for GLAAD, Nick Adams, spoke about the importance of the cover in sparking a larger conversation about transgender issues; “It is allowing Americans to feel like they know someone who is transgender and hopefully bringing a greater understanding about what it means to be a transgender person.”
The interview comes at a time where the transgender community are receiving more positive media coverage than ever before. Laverne Cox, star of Orange is the New Black, posed on the cover of Time Magazine this time last year, “Transparent” won a golden globe for its portrayal of the transition of a retired professor and Australian model – Andreja Pejic recently graced the cover of Vogue.
This prime positioning within media outlets is an incredibly important step forward – in raising public awareness for the psychological, physical and emotional hardships suffered by members of the transgender community.
Nearly half a century ago, another famous transgender woman made headlines for transitioning in the most courageous of ways. Jan Morris, formerly known as famous newspaper journalist – James Morris, was charged with covering the 1953, John Hunt expedition to Everest. After transitioning, Morris continued to win countless awards for outstanding journalism in her field – which led to an amusing conversation with the Queen during a meeting at Buckingham Palace.
She asked the Queen: “Do you remember when they climbed Everest for the first time, and the news came to you on the day before your coronation?”
“Yes, of course I remember,” the Queen replied, to what she obviously thought was a foolish question.
“Well,” said Jan, “I was the person who brought the news back from Everest so that it got to you on time.”
This left the bemused Queen wondering how this grey haired woman, or any woman, could have been the first with such dramatic news. Morris watched her reaction.
“Her eyes went cold,” she said. “I felt sorry for her because she always has people to explain things, and there was nobody around to put her straight. She suddenly found herself in totally unknown territory.”
Morris’ story is not unlike any other person sharing their transition, but not at all the same. As with anything, no two transitions will ever be identical, but the important message lies in the way the larger community needs be there, to support those who do.
Jenner is not the first person to publicly document her transition and she will not be the last. Importantly, in an age where social media has the power to disseminate more information to the masses, than any other vehicle, she has provided a meaningful face to an issue, that will hopefully not be one, in the years to come.
I’m so happy after such a long struggle to be living my true self. Welcome to the world Caitlyn. Can’t wait for you to get to know her/me.
— Caitlyn Jenner (@Caitlyn_Jenner) June 1, 2015
Welcome home Caitlyn.