Following the reveal of Caitlyn Jenner on Vanity Fair’s July cover yesterday (Jun. 1), the publication has also unleashed another behind the scenes video of Caitlyn’s photo shoot with photographer Annie Leibovitz. In the footage, Jenner candidly shed some insight on her transition process, while also shouting out other trans women who have paved the way for her.
“You look at some of the people trying to get the message out, Laverne Cox, Janet Mock, Geena Rocero people like that, Carmen Carrera. Back in the 80’s I was alone,” she said. “And I’m kind of following in their footsteps. They made it easier for me so I hope with my honesty I can make it easier for somebody else down the line.”
However, it seems like Caitlyn also inspires her own inspirations. In an essay posted to her blog Laverne Cox professed her admiration for Jenner and discussed diversity in beauty standards in the transgender community. Here is a part of what the Orange Is The New Black star had to say:
Many have commented on how gorgeous Caitlyn looks in her photos, how she is “slaying for the Gods.” I must echo these comments in the vernacular, “Yasss Gawd! Werk Caitlyn! Get it!” But this has made me reflect critically on my own desires to ‘work a photo shoot’, to serve up various forms of glamour, power, sexiness, body affirming, racially empowering images of the various sides of my black, trans womanhood. I love working a photo shoot and creating inspiring images for my fans, for the world and above all for myself. But I also hope that it is my talent, my intelligence, my heart and spirit that most captivate, inspire, move and encourage folks to think more critically about the world around them. Yes, Caitlyn looks amazing and is beautiful but what I think is most beautiful about her is her heart and soul, the ways she has allowed the world into her vulnerabilities. The love and devotion she has for her family and that they have for her. Her courage to move past denial into her truth so publicly. These things are beyond beautiful to me. A year ago when my Time magazine cover came out I saw posts from many trans folks saying that I am “drop dead gorgeous” and that that doesn’t represent most trans people. (It was news to be that I am drop dead gorgeous but I’ll certainly take it). But what I think they meant is that in certain lighting, at certain angles I am able to embody certain cisnormative beauty standards. Now, there are many trans folks because of genetics and/or lack of material access who will never be able to embody these standards. More importantly many trans folks don’t want to embody them and we shouldn’t have to to be seen as ourselves and respected as ourselves . It is important to note that these standards are also infomed by race, class and ability among other intersections. I have always been aware that I can never represent all trans people. No one or two or three trans people can. This is why we need diverse media representstions of trans folks to multiply trans narratives in the media and depict our beautiful diversities.
It’s been quite a week for Caitlyn. She made her big debut on VF’s cover yesterday, and is set to receive the Arthur Ashe award for courage at the 2015 ESPYs. Read Laverne’s full essay on here and watch the full behind-the-scenes clip above.