In Depth

Caitlyn Jenner on the cover of Vanity Fair: 'a pivotal moment'

The former athlete and reality TV star says she is finally 'free' after coming out as a transgender woman

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Caitlyn Jenner, the reality TV star and Olympian formerly known as Bruce, has become the first transgender woman to appear on the cover of Vanity Fair. 

In her first interview since publically transitioning from male to female, Jenner discusses the pain of being forced to deny her true gender identity.

"Bruce always had to tell a lie," Jenner said in the interview. "Caitlyn doesn't have any secrets. As soon as the Vanity Fair cover comes out, I'm free."

Jenner has been widely praised for bravery, receiving encouragement and support from the media, the public and even Barack Obama. "It feels like a pivotal moment in the way that media portrays trans people," Drian Juarez, from the Los Angeles LGBT Centre, told Channel 4 News

"Jenner has endured years of hiding who she is, of trying to live up to other people's expectations of who she was supposed to be and, more recently, cruel tabloid speculation, ridicule and bullying," wrote transgender rights activist Paris Lees in The Guardian. "Her time has finally come. To see her looking so happy on the cover of Vanity Fair is a triumph."

Actress Laverne Cox, who also made history last year as the first transgender woman to appear on the cover of Time magazine, said she was "moved" by all the love and support Caitlyn received. "It feels like a new day, indeed, when a trans person can present her authentic self to the world for the first time and be celebrated for it so universally," Cox said.

However, she was quick to acknowledge that many people in the trans community lack the same privileges and find it difficult to relate to high profile celebrities who come out as transgender. "It is those trans folks we must continue to lift up, get them access to healthcare, jobs, housing, safe streets, safe schools and homes for our young people," she wrote.

Although attitudes towards transgender people are slowly changing, the trans community still faces widespread discrimination, high unemployment, disproportionate levels of violence and higher than average suicide rates. A total of 1,731 trans and gender-diverse people were killed between 2008 and 2014, according to the Transgender Europe's Trans Murder Monitoring Project

Meredith Talusan, a transgender writer and photographer, highlights another issue: "Do you applaud Caitlyn Jenner because she is brave, or because she's pretty?" 

While she celebrates Jenner's visibility and courage, she cautions society against focusing on her appearance. "Thinking of her as more of a woman because she's more conventionally feminine on the outside excludes the many trans women who don't have the money to make themselves look like she does."

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