At the start of this week’s I Am Cait, Jen and Candis call Caitlyn from Trans Pride L.A., which they estimate has hit record attendance this year. “Any Team Caitlyn T-shirts?” Caitlyn asks. There are none to be seen.
“Your 15 minutes is over,” Jen jokes.
But of course, the cameras are still rolling. It’s been just over two months since that phone call, and the conversation has only just now found its way to our TV screens, because Caitlyn Jenner gets more than 15 minutes. She’s not interested in being a flash in the pan; she’s interested in using her platform to make a difference—even as she’s the kind of celebrity who expects to find her name on a T-shirt. This is the tension inherent in I Am Cait, not to mention in Caitlyn’s own life. As one Trans Pride L.A. attendee points out, “99.9 percent of trans people are not having the same experience as Caitlyn Jenner.” Most people don’t get T-shirts. What’s her responsibility as one of the few who do?
Your regular recapper Melissa is unavailable tonight, but rest assured that her 15 minutes are far from over. In the meantime, I’ll do my best to walk through this episode with you. For all of its real talk, this is a largely celebratory hour, especially since so much of it falls just after the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of marriage equality. Caitlyn calls it a “good step in the right direction,” even though she estimates that “the trans issue is still probably about 20 years behind.”
She’s experiencing that on a personal level. This week, Caitlyn is ready to reach out to some of her straight male friends, which she knows will be its own challenge. Scott Disick comes first, and he takes it pretty well. “Anybody who’s worth being in your life will understand and will work at the relationship,” he encourages. But it’s work for him, too; he admits that this is going to take some getting used to, and he sticks to jokes as a coping mechanism. When Caitlyn says that a weight has been lifted from her chest, Scott replies, “Well, it looks like you got some more weight put on your chest.” Then he high-fives his Barney Stinson shoulder angel as I sigh with every muscle of my body.
Caitlyn’s longtime friend Sergio is having a harder time. She calls Sergio to arrange a meet-up and is delighted to know that he’s already changed her name in his phone, but he never shows. She fiddles with her RC helicopters and paces to the door of the garage in anticipation; this is a big deal for her, and it’s hard to watch her accept that her friend isn’t just running late.
But Caitlyn handles the situation with grace—rather than call out Sergio for standing her up, she just makes a phone call about one of her helicopters, then drives to the hobby shop to meet him on his turf. Sergio looks a little uncomfortable, but he tells her that what matters is her happiness, and Caitlyn leaves satisfied. As she’s said before, she believes the first meeting is the hardest; once people have seen her, they realize that she’s the same person.
NEXT: We never go out of style
It’s all about the face time—not only for Caitlyn and her friends, but for Caitlyn and the world. Candis’ big goal this week is to help Caitlyn put herself out there. No more calling in to pride festivals; she’s going to one. Candis and Caitlyn stop by GLAAD’s L.A. offices to meet with Sarah Kate Ellis, CEO and President of GLAAD, and Nick Adams, Director of Transgender Media. Caitlyn is an attentive member of the conversation, but she keeps saying “them” and “they” when she talks about the transgender community. She’s still struggling to feel like she belongs. In Chandi’s words, it’s time to “start embracing the word ‘we.’”
Where better to embrace it than NYC Pride? Candis is scheduled to perform, and she invites Caitlyn to come along in the hopes that it will help her feel like a part of the community. Joined by Chandi, they head to New York, where the bathtubs are deep and the hotel rooms are stocked with cookies. Candis and Chandi skip the cookies in favor of the bar. “I’m going with the cookies,” Caitlyn shrugs, undeterred. A woman after my own heart.
Candis takes Caitlyn and Chandi to Patricia Field, the fashion designer who styled Sex and the City. Candis used to work for Patricia; she says that her store was a beacon for anyone who felt different, and it’s not hard to see why. Patricia takes the time to really get to know Caitlyn. She wants her to feel comfortable.“Otherwise the clothes are wearing her,” she says, “and we don’t want that.” Caitlyn leaves in a sparkly, colorful mini skirt, and she wears it. Very well.
Now that the cookies have been eaten and the clothes picked out, it’s time for Candis’ show. Can we talk about her high kicks? They’re impressive. And can we talk about her adorable parents? They’re even better than her high kicks. Candis takes a minute to talk about Caitlyn in her speech, and the crowd—which already welcomed Caitlyn by chanting her name—goes wild again. “I am so impressed with the LGB embracing your T,” says Chandi, and the embrace is mutual; Caitlyn is starting to feel as if she belongs. She mingles with the cast after a showing of An American in Paris and leaves surrounded by a crowd of admirers.
But the most telling moment of the trip comes when Kate Bornstein gives her a little bow and thanks her for opening doors. As Caitlyn herself points out, Kate has struggled for decades longer than she has. It’s a little sad that she couldn’t be the one to open those doors, though obviously she laid a foundation. But Kate isn’t bitter. “Less of a struggle, more of a giggle,” she says. Print that on a T-shirt.