Any transgender person is going to make a massive transition in his or her life. But it’s easy to forget that they’re not the only ones going through an extremely difficult and exciting change. Their family and friends have to make massive transitions, too. This week’s I Am Cait handled that idea with great sensitivity, not just by allowing Kim and Khloé Kardashian to vent their frustration over Caitlyn’s Vanity Fair cover, but also by refusing to choose sides in that argument. Just because Caitlyn deserves her family’s full support right now about the transition itself doesn’t mean they aren’t allowed to disagree with how she’s handled it every step of the way.
The episode begins with Caitlyn waking up at 2:57 a.m. from a nightmare in which the paparazzi have trapped her in a parking garage and she can’t get out. Obviously, this is a very real fear for Caitlyn, who’s been hounded by the press even before she came out as transgender. Those who’ve accused Caitlyn of using her Vanity Fair cover just to boost her fame have missed a bigger point. She’s going to be covered by the press no matter what she does. She doesn’t have a choice. So she can either let the tabloids track her every move and spin their own stories, or she can choose to pose for select magazines and start her own reality TV show and tell her own story herself. “They’re going to run their own stupid little story, and I don’t want that,” she says of the tabloids. “I’ve got a much bigger message to get across.”
It’s a bit ironic, though, that she’s worried about the tabloids not letting her speak for herself, but she doesn’t have a problem with telling Kris Jenner’s story, without her permission, to Vanity Fair. So Kim Kardashian, ever the family peacekeeper, shows up to explain why that story hurt her mom and her sisters. Uh oh. Is Caitlyn in trouble? “How can I be in trouble?” Caitlyn purrs, trying to sound harmless. “Sweet adorable thing like me?” Presenting herself as the real victim here, Caitlyn tells Kim that Khloé has sent her nasty text messages, before trying to shrug the whole thing off. “You can’t please everybody,” she says, as if she had simply landed on a Worst Dressed list instead of revealing private family matters in public.
At a time when Caitlyn most needs kindness herself, she’s having trouble being kind to others, especially those in her own family. Rather than getting emotional, Kim calmly points this out, listing specific things that hurt the rest of the family: Caitlyn saying that Kendall and Kylie were “a distraction” from her real life, and her claim that, had Kris accepted her as a transgender woman, they’d still be together as a couple. The conversation that follows is raw and messy without being disrespectful or soapy in a gratuitous way. Kim insists that it’s not fair for Caitlyn to say that Kris should’ve stuck with the marriage through Caitlyn’s transition, because Kris isn’t a lesbian. Caitlyn says Kris shouldn’t have gotten so emotional, because this was not about Kris—it was Caitlyn’s time to finally tell the truth about her own life.
Kim says that just proves Kris really loved her. “You got the fame,” Kim says, “But you’re losing your family.” Wait, Kim Kardashian, the woman who just released a selfie book called Selfish, is accusing Caitlyn of being fame-hungry and self-centered? Ouch.
Kim is more convincing when she simply urges Caitlyn to be more considerate. “You look amazing,” she says. “It’s your time. But you don’t have to bash us on your way up.” She tells Caitlyn that, whether or not she and Kris are together, their family needs a united front so that they can understand each other. Her family first message is so human, you might forget that we’re talking about the Kardashians here—that is, until Caitlyn suggests that the whole clan make up over Twitter. She’s willing to tweet an apology, but she says, “I can’t apologize unless they come after me.” Sigh. Family first, unless, y’know, it interferes with how the press is covering Caitlyn. The same press that Caitlyn was just ranting about earlier in the episode.
While we wait for Caitlyn’s big confrontation with Khloé, who’s way more pissed off than Kim, Candis Cayne invites Caitlyn to a sleepover. While Caitlyn admits that it’s a little “elementary” to have a sleepover in one’s 60s, it seems to dovetail with what she learns from the transgender activist Kate Bornstein later in the episode: transitioning can sometimes feel like a late adolescence, where you’re coming to terms with being a woman for the first time. Caitlyn, who’s never been to a sleepover before, seeks some guidance from her hairdresser, Courtney, who tells her to bring a few outfits, including a sexy white lacy teddy, just in case she wants to play “lingerie dress up.” Telling Caitlyn what to expect, she says, “You pillow fight. You tell ghost stories. You compare boob sizes.” Wow, Courtney, you’ve been to different sleepovers than I have. Do the ladies also order a “big sausage pizza” and, when the delivery guy arrives, his pants get so itchy, he’s forced to take them off?
NEXT: Caitlyn’s first sleepover