Miley Cyrus and Caitlyn Jenner are two strong queer and trans individuals who are unapologetic about their identities in every kind of way. This is because they have the privilege to do so. America is seeing them as the new faces for the queer and trans community, and with these two becoming the new poster children, it creates this inaccuracy that causes misrepresentation of the majority.
Recently, Miley kinda-sorta came out to the public in an interview as queer, though not specifically. They stated that they “(don’t) relate to being boy or girl” and that “(they) don’t have to have (their) partner relate to boy or girl.” Many were shocked and confused over this, which is great; they started a conversation about the gender binary that America has been needing to have for awhile now, but there’s still a problem -- America now looks to Miley as the new face of queer youth, but they're really not one in the same.
Miley is wealthy, famous, has a supportive family, and is white. So, with their privilege in tow, Miley has to face little to no consequence as a result of their queer identity, which isn't the case for many queer youth. 40% of homeless youth are queer and 32% of homeless youth are black. 42% of queer youth also claim the community they live in is not accepting, and the main contributor to homeless queer youth is a lack of acceptance.
Between Miley and the general queer youth is a large gap filled with privilege and lack of, with the only thing uniting them being queer identity. Miley's coming out did not cost anything, while many queer youth lost many things, some lost everything; with all these facts at hand, it's prevalent that we need new, more accurate faces to represent queer youth.
With all this talk about Miley, we also have Caitlyn Jenner; a trans woman. When Caitlyn did an interview discussing her transition, the internet and America, went insane. Some couldn't grasp how one could be a man, but want to be a woman, and others said, “Oh! So it's true!,” or, “I told you so!” It was that night she became the new voice for trans individuals; receiving an abundance of support from the general public, including her family, she also appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair, had a photo shoot, and got a reality show deal called "I am Cait."
While Caitlyn Jenner is also making America have a much needed conversation, she's yet another inaccuracy of the majority. Caitlyn Jenner, very much like Miley, is wealthy, famous, has a supportive family, is white, and will also face little to no consequence based on her identity, again something many trans individuals do not have the privilege of experiencing. In fact, Caitlyn Jenner is being rewarded for being trans, even capitalizing on it through her Vanity Fair cover, photo shoot, and her reality show. How often do you see a trans individual making money simply because they're trans?
With this being said, once again, very much like Miley, there is a huge gap between Caitlyn and the majority of the trans community; 20% of male-to-female trans individuals report being without stable housing or being homeless, 46% report employment discrimination, and 25% are black. How can we expect America to really see trans people, if they only see Caitlyn?
For Miley and Caitlyn to both come out is amazing, both for themselves, and for others. They have the power to open up conversations, hearts and minds due to their big audience and the platform they have. They can speak out on their inner struggle, because struggling with your gender identity isn’t an easy feat; we can't disregard that inner struggle, their outer world struggle, is a whole other story. In the end, it is up to them to truly create a difference in making queer and trans people visible accurately, as they are the current faces for Queer Youth, and Trans individuals. By them speaking out about this misrepresentation and directing attention towards more homeless, queer, trans people of color, this could help improve the quality of life for queer and trans people. Just imagine if they they teamed up with Laverne Cox, a trans woman of color; the difference they could make.
Jasper Carbajal (@sasspurr) is a genderqueer writer and activist from Stockton, California. They spend their time participating in protests and supporting causes they feel strongly about, and are actively involved in their local music scene. They are also a mariachi, playing traditional Mexican folk music in the Central Valley area.
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