Winter Laike is a trans musician, storyteller, son, brother, and, less notably, Original Plumbing magazine’s Mr. Transman NYC 2013. Nicole Pasulka is a non-trans journalist who writes about sexuality and gender. Ahead, we discuss Sunday night’s episode of I Am Cait, “Great Scott!”
Winter Laike: Another week, another trip for Cait and the ladies on a very fancy bus. No one is sure what day it is and Jenny Boylan insists that it’s “Mundie,” or “Monday” as it’s usually called. The ladies drink wine and mock Jenny’s accent until it’s Tuesday and the joke is over. The mobile cabin fever has officially kicked in.
Nicole Pasulka: Caitlyn interrupts the merriment to take a call from her stepdaughter, Kourtney. Kourtney’s ex and the father of her kids, Scott Disick, is going to meet Cait and the girls in St. Louis. Cait wants to know if that’s okay.
W.L.: Cait thinks it would be good for Scott to spend time with trans women “who have been through so much.” Scott is in recovery for his alcoholism, and could use some support and perspective.
N.P.: “Who is Scott?” Kate Bornstein asks, again demonstrating that she knows close to nothing about the Kardashian world. Bless her total ignorance of, and indifference to, reality TV stars.
W.L.: So, the gang is heading to St. Louis for Transgender Day of Remembrance. Cait asks Chandi Moore why 21 trans women were murdered in 2015. Chandi tells her that when trans women aren’t accepted by their families, they go out on their own to make money and survive on the streets. They know the dangers, but they don’t care. Chandi says race plays a big part in why some trans women struggle to get jobs, and Candis Cayne agrees. Yet again, Cait is shocked to learn that we don’t live in a post-racial meritocracy where anyone with pluck and a good work ethic can overcome adversity and win a gold medal in the decathlon. Chandi says that even if Cait learns to recognize the problems African-American trans women face, she’ll never relate.
N.P.: Candis has found herself a “tall, dark, and handsome” personal trainer in St. Louis, and their workout quickly becomes a pretense to flirt. Candis’s hair appears to be workout-proof.
W.L.: At a coffee shop after the gym, Candis tells Andrew that she likes to be open with the people she dates about being trans. He sort of nods and they lean in a little closer.
N.P.: The earlier chat about violence against trans women isn’t sitting well with Chandi, so she goes to Cait’s room to tell her that before she started working with young trans people, she “got involved with the wrong crowd.” She didn’t want to explain her identity to her family, so she tried to figure it out on her own. This led to white-collar crime and she went to prison. Cait says she just can’t see “little Chandi” in jail. “She’s such a good person.”
W.L.: So far, Cait has been living under a rock. “Good people” go to jail all the time. When trans women can’t get jobs and pay for food, housing, and hormones, sometimes their only options are sex work or crime. Now, Chandi’s felony record means that she can’t get a job at some companies and it’s difficult to get a passport. Convicted felons can also lose parental rights, public aid, housing, and the right to vote.
N.P.: If this show can actually foster compassion for people who live with the burden of criminal records, it deserves an Emmy. Cait seems to tolerate crime, stigmatized behavior, or “poor choices” when she can see the person behind these actions as sufficiently victimized. Chandi is not a perfect victim, but can Cait reconcile her preconceptions about convicted felons with her respect for Chandi?
W.L.: Speaking of “poor choices,” Scott has arrived.
N.P.: They group is off to ride motorcycles. And wear leather jackets. Mostly to wear leather jackets. They meet up with Van Barnes, a trans woman whom Zackary works with on Transparent. She’s married to a cisgender guy nicknamed “Big Daddy.”
W.L.: Most of the folks are gathered at a table, dishing gossip. Candis tells Van about her date with Andrew. “Does Cait know you’re cheating on her?” Van asks.
N.P.: Candis, always adept at changing the subject when things get awkward, calls Scott over. Meanwhile, Van keeps stirring the pot. She wants to give Candis a hard time about her “piece on the side” thing with Cait, but she’ll settle for needling Scott. She tells him he’s an “honorary trans woman.” He’s a good sport: “I’m used to being around a lot of women, I’m just not used to being asked to become one,” he says.
W.L.: While Van and Cait are out riding motorcycles, Zackary tells Scott about Trans Day of Remembrance, which honors the lives of the trans people who were killed during the previous year.
N.P.: After a super-awkward motorcycle ride in which “Big Daddy’s” bike tipped over while Candis was riding on the back, Van tells Cait she transitioned twice. The first time she did, she couldn’t find “legal” employment living as a woman, so she regressed and went back to living as a man.
While they’re talking, Scott Disick keeps trying to get Caitlyn’s attention.
W.L.: Jenny notices that Scott is feeling ignored. I’m waiting for Scott to to say something at the expense of trans people, but he’s looking for advice on how to talk to his kids about Cait’s transition. Jenny says children take cues from adults and it’s usually a “bigger deal to grown-ups than it is to kids.”
N.P.: Scott is doing some real learning out here. On a riverboat cruise, he wants to know about gender-affirming surgery. “It’s unbelievable that the body can do this!” He says, comparing it to rebuilding a car. Jenny, the tireless educator, tells him, “That’s exactly right.” He’s acting awkwardly, but he does want to understand. “People ask me these type of questions and I’d like to have the right type of answers.”
W.L.: It’s likely tough navigating social spaces newly sober. Scott can be a jerk, but I kind of feel for him. Comparing a trans person to a car is ridiculous, but maybe going along with it will help him better understand our lives. If cisgender people educate others, trans people won’t have to bear the burden of explaining themselves all the time.
Not all people are lucky enough to have supportive family members, though. It seems like Cait still judges Scott for being an alcoholic. He senses her disapproval and considers leaving town early.
N.P.: After dinner, Candis goes to get a drink with sexy personal trainer Andrew and Cait tells her, “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.” This is a trap because, as we’ve seen, Cait won’t do anything. “You have ten children,” Candis fires back. Good one, Candis.
W.L.: Andrew and Candis head to a rooftop bar where Candis says that she could “totally kiss” him. Andrew says Candis is great, but he can’t really go there. Hearing that, Candis is out. The next day, Andrew visits her hotel room and Candis asks if he’s hung up on the “trans thing.” Indeed, he is.
Candis has been having an absurdly hard time finding a date who isn’t terrible. She was stood up by a guy earlier on this road trip, her ex was abusive, and a person can only take so much rejection before it starts to do damage. Dating sucks and being trans makes it more difficult. Perhaps when I Am Cait is over, Candis can do a reality dating show? I’m sure there are plenty of guys who would love to go out with her. She had eyes for the trans dreamboat Laith Ashley at one point. Whatever happened with that?
N.P.: At lunch with Chandi’s mother — who is adorable and calls everyone “baby” — Cait sees how hard she’s pulling for her daughter. This helps Cait realize Scott is (kind of) her kid, too. She asks him to come to the Trans Day of Remembrance ceremony later that evening.
W.L.: During the ceremony, members of the community read the names and stories of the trans people who were killed last year. Cait and the girls recite these names as they flash across the screen. It’s a powerful moment, though I was annoyed that they said the names so quickly. Twenty-one murders is a lot — a “historic high” according to the Guardian — and these deaths are just the ones we know. There’s only been a reliable national count for the past few years. Before then, these murders often weren’t even in the local news. As seems to be a common theme in I Am Cait, we’re reminded both of the progress that’s been made and the systemic issues yet to be overcome.