The Blog

How Caitlyn Jenner Got it Right Where the Kardashians Get It Wrong

What has he done right that other members of his family have got so wrong? Does it come down to the nature of his story, the particular way it has been handled, or both?

Like so many over the past week, I have found myself feeling full of admiration for Bruce Jenner as he transitions to Caitlyn.

I am one of the now two and half million who followed Caitlyn on Twitter within hours of her first post, which simply stated "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." Meanwhile, some have declared Caitlyn's Vanity Fair cover a victory for transgender rights.

Yet at the same time, I have found myself viewing the process as a media specialist and wondering how, when the Kardashians are often derided for peddling every area of their lives, Caitlyn has been able to stand apart.

There has been an outpouring of support from family, celebrities and the general public towards Jenner and I do not know anyone who does not feel a new-found respect for Caitlyn, whereas I know plenty who have scoffed at Kim's (short-lived) IVF woes.

What has he done right that other members of his family have got so wrong? Does it come down to the nature of his story, the particular way it has been handled, or both?

During the years in which I ran my own press agency (which was last year acquired by South West News) I had the privilege of interviewing and getting to know many people going through sex changes and indeed organising their publicity and brokering deals for the media coverage story. This included a teenager who was at the time the youngest person in Britain to transition, and a former tank commander who is now female.

What is clear is that such a decision goes beyond the personal and its ramifications are felt across entire families. From talking to the brothers, sisters, parents and children of those going through sex changes, it was clear that whilst most are keen to be supportive, they at the same time, find themselves stunned, shocked and scared.

They have lost one family member and so feel bereft, and yet at the same time have gained a new one. They want to be positive about the future for the sake of their loved one, yet at the same time find themselves looking back and wondering how much of their life has been based on false foundations (and in the case of a husband or wife, how much has indeed been based on a lie). I have known parents who also feel blame and wonder if they are somehow responsible for the unhappiness their son or daughter lives with.

Ultimately though, what I concluded is no matter how hard the process, transitioning often commands support when other decisions might not because the extreme nature of the action proves beyond doubt the unrelenting feelings 'wrongness' inside.

All of us live with our inconveniences whether they are in our body and or our mind. Some of us might have our boobs or noses changed and we could argue until the end of our lives over whether we should learn to love ourselves as we are, or change the things we don't like.

But to feel that your body and gender do not match to the extent that you are prepared to put yourself and your family through a sex change and all that it entails...... it is not something even considered lightly or on a whim, let alone executed so. The person transitioning needs to find a depth of courage and determination that most never need to call upon. And as such it is hard for anyone to criticism or be unsupportive of another person going through gender reassignment.

So that is why Kim Kardashian's 'IVF exhaustion' and associated woes do seem like yet another publicity and storyline move to many, especially seeing as she has only recently had one child, is still in her early 30s and cannot have been trying for that long for her second (and is now pregnant). Her story is not especially credible, whereas Caitlyn's is.

What is different about Jenner is also the media route she has taken to announce the process. There was never any option to do it quietly, given Bruce Jenner's profile and the family's show and notoriety.

I am sure producers of KUWTK would have loved for the process to be documented on the family's own show, amongst the every day dramas and tears, but instead Jenner has stood apart and found a route to a definitive interview that is packed with integrity and away from the noise, hype and hysteria.

While some may argue this is a private matter, there is nothing the Kardashians do that is private. Caitlyn knows that. And so has instead managed to carve a dignified path whilst sharing the most private story publicly.

OK, so there is (possibly inevitably) a fly-on-the-wall series prepared and about to launch on E!, which does take away from grace of the Vanity Fair article, but at least Jenner has tried to speak out from her own platform and as such set herself slightly apart from the family as a whole.

What has been heartwarming too is the way in which the entire family, bar Jenner's ex wife Kris have come out in support of Caitlyn. As one of my friends recently posted on Facebook: 'Perhaps the whole purpose of the Kardashians is to be the ultimate supporter for trans-gender equality. It's cool that they used their platform to do something positive to this world.'