Caitlyn Jenner's mission with "I Am Cait" was clear from the start: she wanted to change lives. By checking her privilege at the door, she was able to open her mind (and her heart) and really understand what the majority of trans people, especially trans women of color, face every day -- and ultimately, change one woman's life in an incredible way.
At the end of last week's episode, Caitlyn came face to face with a group of trans women at San Francisco's local HRC (Human Rights Campaign). This week, we get the continuation of that intense conversation. There, she met a woman named Blossom, who helped Cait put her own struggles in perspective. Blossom is an aspiring nurse who, despite good grades, has been rejected from nursing school numerous times in her native Mississippi for being transgender. She calls Ellen Degeneres her biggest inspiration because if Ellen could come back after her show was cancelled with an even more successful talk show, then she knows she will eventually go to nursing school.
Blossom's story is heartbreaking and sadly, not uncommon. Several other women in attendance also shared their stories -- how they were rejected from society and had to turn to sex work to pay the bills. Caitlyn was not only incredibly receptive to their stories, but she also acknowledged how privileged she has been. (Suddenly, her insecurities over her voice seem like NBD.)
"I’m blessed," she says. "I’m in a wonderful position in life... It’s shocking to me to see the struggles that are out there." (Remember: just last week, Caitlyn expressed her own prejudice towards sex work and women who live off government programs. So this is tremendous progress!)
Caitlyn leaves the HRC meeting ready to help Blossom. She calls over her producer and tells her to edit Blossom's footage together so that she can personally send it to Degeneres. "We’re gonna get her on 'The Ellen DeGeneres Show,'" Cait says. "We’re gonna get her into nursing school, and we’re gonna pay for it," she says.
Cait may not have everything all figured out, but she doesn't need to yet. She has a big heart -- and it was nice to see her use her celebrity to help one women achieve her dreams.
After their emotional afternoon at the HRC, Caitlyn and her squad of inspirational women hit the roller rink to let loose and have a bit of fun. Seeing Cait look so happy and carefree is really heartwarming. On "Keeping Up With the Kardashians," Caitlyn never looked this content, so it's nice to see her smile and have fun with her girlfriends.
The next morning, Caitlyn doesn't know if she's ready to go home to Malibu -- back home to the paparazzi and the constant media circus surrounding her every move. She opens up about her fears about accepting the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the upcoming ESPYs. It will be her first public appearance and she's nervous to accept the award in front of so many macho male athletes. Plus, she's worried about making her family, especially her children, proud. The ladies reassure her that her kids are already proud of her and she shouldn't worry what everyone else thinks. (We're not crying, you're crying.)
Then, it's time for Caitlyn to face yet another fear: her bathing suit. In last week's episode, Cait wasn't ready to "expose" herself in front of her friends, so she forewent the the girls' hot tub party. This time, however, Caitlyn felt more comfortable in her own skin.
Talking about a certain, cleavage-baring suit, Cait says, "I love Kimberly to death, but this is something she would wear." So she goes with a slightly more demure, stunning white one-shoulder one-piece. “I am about as nervous as I could possibly be right now," she says. This is a completely normal reaction for any person struggling with body image issues, and for Cait, the emotions are even more intense. She's still getting used to her body and her own femininity, and for her to wear a bathing suit for the first time in public -- in front of TV cameras, no less! -- that's really brave.
Thankfully, Cait’s fears are quickly put to rest when the ladies cheer for her as she enters the pool. They are all so supportive, it’s incredible and honestly, inspirational to watch. Caitlyn's story isn't just inspiring trans women -- she's inspiring the entire damn sisterhood with her confidence and bravery. “I got the bathing suit on!” she says. “It felt very free… I looked pretty good.” That's an understatement!
"The ability to grow is directly related to the amount of insecurity you can take in your life," she says, like a goddamn hero.
Later that night, the women ask Caitlyn about her sexual preference. For Caitlyn, it's not really something she's given much thought to. Although, she does admit that she can see how being with a man would make her feel more feminine. Now, you may not agree with Cait's assessment, but you have to remember that she's still learning about all of this stuff, and having only been with women, the idea of being with a man is incredibly foreign to Cait -- but it's not something she's entirely ready to rule out.
"I can appreciate the male form," she says. "I don't know unless I got there." (Thank you, Caitlyn, for handling that extremely personal question with grace and integrity.)
Major snaps to Chandi Moore for her brilliant comment on significant others: "I want somebody who's cool, who I can chill with. If you like Beyoncé, that's a bonus!" Truer words have never been said, TBH.
Alas, it's finally time for Caitlyn to go back to reality. The women share one last dinner together, in which they share their high school experiences -- stories of isolation, depression, bullying and excessive prejudice. But through it all, they've all been able to persevere and find happiness in being themselves.
Before Cait leaves to go back to her glass bubble in Malibu, she has one last conversation with trans author and activist Jenny Boylan. She tells Caitlyn that right now she's in the "pink cloud" -- a "place of euphoria and happiness" -- and that she may be alienating her old friends, especially her assistant and BFF Ronda. Cait ultimately acknowledges that she may be a little self absorbed right now, and therefore, neglectful of her old friends.
Throughout the episode, Ronda was feeling ignored by Cait, which to be honest, is a pretty legitimate complaint, and one that I'm happy "I Am Cait" is exploring. Because this journey isn't all about Caitlyn -- it's about her friends and family, and how they're dealing with Caitlyn's transition, too.