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 and can remember a time not so long ago when every article about trans people or issues had to include an ad hoc definition of the term. Those days are gone, and in their place we have I Am Cait, part reality show, part PSA, a landmark moment for trans visibility, and a romp through the homes and closets of a very rich woman. Ahead, we discuss Sunday night’s episode of Cait, “What’s in a Name?”
Winter Laike: The time has come, friends. While the Miss America pageant airs on some other channel, we’re watching the final episode of season one. All of the trials, drama, public appearances, girls’ nights, and teasers have led up to this moment. Ending the season with an episode titled “A New Beginning” suggests there’s going to be a fresh start. Will Cait be able to fully accept herself in all aspects of life? Are things going to be okay with Cait and her family? The last episode ended as Cait and her ex-wife Kris sat down to talk out their grievances. Will they finally be able to clear the air and patch things up?
Nicole Pasulka: Cait and Kris haven’t talked for six months. Kris says that she was avoiding Cait because when they talked, “I didn’t want to be angry.” Cait’s upset she wasn’t invited to Kylie’s graduation. That’s exactly how I felt when the Vanity Fair article published, she says. Kris’s feelings are hurt and she doesn’t understand why Cait “felt the need to criticize or make me feel bad.”
I can’t tell if Kris is being a drama queen or if Cait is an insensitive jerk. Both, probably.
W.L.: In the Vanity Fair article, Cait refers to her marriage and children as a distraction, which was a point of contention within the family. Cait clarifies that she meant that the marriage was “a distraction in the sense of who [she] was.” When she was married to Kris, “[she] didn’t have to look at myself.” I understand where Caitlyn is coming from and can relate to her a bit, but I don’t agree that saying that in a major publication was the smartest thing to do, especially not before having a conversation about it with the people the article mentions.
N.P.: Could this be a more interesting conversation? Or a more impactful, compelling one?
WL: It could be way more “interesting” to me if they both took ownership over their actions. They are throwing blame at each other and disregarding each other’s feelings. Kris was hurt by the article. Cait should acknowledge that. Cait feels abandoned. Kris should acknowledge that.
N.P.: Oof. It is painful to watch a divorced couple argue about their relationship. Kris is upset that Cait is having a great time with new friends and she feels “left in the dust.” The family misses Bruce.
W.L.: Kris claims that Caitlyn is not as sensitive as Bruce used to be. It really grinds my gears when people keep bringing up “Bruce vs. Caitlyn” comparisons. They make it sound like Jekyll and Hyde. I have often heard comments from non-trans people about how a trans person’s personality changes when they’re transitioning. I don’t know that there is any scientific evidence as to why this happens, but I think that it’s probably based on how trans people see themselves and how they deal with certain circumstances. Perhaps a trans person’s changes in personality are attributed to not having to lie to themselves and others about who they are and fit into certain stereotypes.
After a lot of back-and-forth, Cait asks what could be done for them to be able to move forward, which is the closest thing to closure that we’re going to get.
Aaaaand, if there’s anything we’ve learned from reality TV, it’s that all drama can be resolved with a selfie.
N.P.: After her time with Kris, Cait meets up with Candis and they talk name changes. Caitlyn wants to celebrate all the new beginnings in her life and decides to have a renaming ceremony. This will not just be for her, she says, but for all the girls who didn’t get a chance to celebrate.
W.L.: I’m all for celebrating the name change. People celebrate all kinds of things, why not this? It’s not unheard-of for a trans person to commemorate the milestones in their transition. It’s like celebrating a birthday.
NP: Drian Juarez and Jenny Boylan and Jenny’s wife Deedie have lunch with Reverend Allyson Dylan Robinson, a minister who is also a trans woman. Cait wants to know how minister Faith “justified transition” as a religious person, when lots of people consider LGBT identities to be against God somehow. “My faith is deeper today because it’s been challenged,” says the aptly named minister. Plus, the bible is full of characters who have nothing to do with society’s gender rolls. Like, did you know that Joseph’s Technicolor Dream Coat was actually a Princess Dress?!
W.L.: I’m surprised Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice didn’t want to go with the name Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Princess Dress.
N.P.: It’s a much better image.
Cue the montage of brands, brands, brands. Cait’s redecorating to discover who she is.
W.L.: Cait has been invited to introduce Boy George before his concert, and she brings her girlfriends as her VIP guests. Boy George — the legendary singer and Culture Club front man who has had A LIFE — tells Cait that she’s helping the young folks by being so public and that he loves what she’s doing.
N.P.: Candis meets with the L.A. Gay Men’s Chorus to practice to a song for Cait’s naming ceremony.
She’s nervous about singing. She rehearsed with the choir, but she’s not as confident a singer as she is an actor and dancer. She sounds good though.
The choir director announces that the group will also sing backup at Cait’s ceremony for Boy George and we get a close-up of the most excited gay singer in L.A.
W.L.: Are the Kardashians going to be at this naming ceremony? Other than Kris, no family members have shown up in this episode. Cait and Kris just had a conversation about being included in each other’s lives, yet there is no mention of Cait inviting her family to the renaming ceremony. At the ceremony, everyone is dressed in white for this pure, fresh beginning. The ceremony is arranged with Cait’s chosen family of trans women (and Jenny Boylan’s wife, Deedie) sitting on one side and other, less distinguished guests on the other side. I think I even caught a glimpse of Rocco Kayiatos behind Ronda.
N.P.: We basically never see the other side of the crowd, but it is nice to see trans women as the focus of so much positive attention and affirmation. Chandi Moore and Jenny Boylan both get up to speak, and we see a montage of their best moments on the show.
I always liked Jenny Boylan, but this show has made me a legit fan. She’s been a font of great advice and support, but she also seems to get that this is a great opportunity to make life better for the broader trans community by exposing to non-trans folks their stories and struggle.
During the montage of Candis’s role on the show we’re teased again with the possibility of a romance between Cait and Candis. Do you think these two will ever hook up?
W.L.: I’m not sure. While I don’t root for any particular outcome, nor do I have any investment, it could be good for them either way. It’s important for trans people to know they are loved and it is possible to find someone who will appreciate and support and love them, and also want to be intimate with them. But I would also respect any decision not to date because friendship is important, as is working on loving yourself fully before sharing yourself with others.
N.P.: I just don’t see romance between Candis and Cait. I see a lot of mutual affection and friendship, but not sexual chemistry.
Cait is so lucky that these ladies wanted to be on her TV show — and so are we. Cait tells the crowd that “for the first time, I feel like I fit in some place … being my authentic self.” Tears! Hugs! Toasts!
W.L.: Jenny Boylan says that her mother used to have a saying, “You can’t hate someone whose story you know.” She hopes the show will share enough about Caitlyn’s story and the story of what trans people have to deal with to reduce the hatred toward us. I hope so, too.
N.P.: So, Winter, we’ve watched eight hours of Cait Jenner’s story. Is Jenny Boylan’s mom right?
W.L.: Moms are always right, Nicole. At least that’s what my mom told me.