Metro Weekly

Caitlyn Jenner highlights trans suicide on “I Am Cait”

Jenner's new reality show also touched on her mother's struggle to accept her


“Am I going to do everything right? Am I going to say the right things? Do I project the right image? My mind’s just spinning with thoughts.”

Caitlyn Jenner had a lot on her mind during the premier episode of I Am Cait, a reality series following Jenner’s life after becoming the most famous transgender woman in America. But rather than settle for the superficial nature of other such E! reality shows, Jenner’s show looks set to openly confront the challenges faced by the transgender community.

“What a responsibility I have towards this community. I just hope I get it right,” she opined during the premier. Jenner is keenly aware of the pressures she faces — not only must she bring a subject seldom confronted on mainstream television to audiences across America, she must do so in a way that pleases both trans- and cisgendered viewers.

For those worried that E! would scrub any negativity from the opening episode, such fears were quickly allayed when Jenner directly confronted the issue of trans suicide. “I feel bad that especially young people are going through such a difficult time in their life,” she said. “We don’t want people dying for this. We don’t want people murdered for this stuff.” It was a sentiment bolstered by a visit to the home of Kyler Prescott, a 14-year-old trans boy who took his own life earlier this year. Overwhelmed by adults who refused to acknowledge his gender identity — his family fully supported his transition — Prescott committed suicide May 18. It was a pain that Jenner seemed all too familiar with.

“I’ve had some very dark moments in my life. I’ve been in my house with a gun and said let’s just end it right there,” she stated. “No more pain, no more suffering. That struggle is real and I’ve been there.”

Of course, there were plenty of light-hearted moments — Kim Kardashian visits to help Jenner with her wardrobe, for instance — but it was the interactions with Jenner’s family, particularly her mother Esther, that brought arguably the most sincere moments of the episode.

“It’s not easy, it’s not easy,” said Esther Jenner during one segment.

“In what aspect is it not easy, losing a son?” Jenner responded.

“I love Bruce, that will never change. It’s going to take some getting used to but I want to do what he wants,” Esther said.

She frequently referred to Jenner using a male pronoun. In many respects, her struggle to come to terms with Jenner’s transition will be reflected in many of the viewers watching at home — the surprise, the confusion, the slow acceptance. Indeed, it’s perhaps Esther’s acceptance of Caitlyn that will resonate most with viewers — particularly LGBT viewers.

“I was so proud of Bruce when he stood on that podium receiving that gold medal in Montreal. I had tears and the American flag was going up in the middle and I thought that I could never be more proud of him,” Esther said. “And you know, I was wrong. Because I am more proud of him for the courage that he has shown. I love him with all my heart and I certainly love her with all my heart.”

Arguably the episode’s most surprising moment came from Kanye West — and not just that the typically serious rapper knows how to smile. Meeting Jenner for the first time, West offered some surprisingly uplifting words.

“You couldn’t have been up against more,” he said. “Like, your daughter is a supermodel. You’re a celebrity. You have every type of thing, and it was still like, ‘Fuck everybody, this is who I am.’”

Watch I Am Cait Sundays on E!

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