Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair Cover Is Very Vanity Fair

Caitlyn Jenner, Olympic gold medalist and reality TV star, made her debut on the cover of Vanity Fair after coming out as a trans woman in her two-hour interview special with Diane Sawyer in April. She talked about how she struggled with her gender identity and coming out for years all while being in the public eye.

In the 22-page cover feature story, Jenner speaks with Buzz Bissinger about her life after her TV interview and her upcoming TV series. Jenner posed for photographer Annie Leibovitz during her photo shoot in her home.

Read tidbits of the interview on Vanity Fair or wait till it hits newsstands on June 9.

via Vanity Fair

via Vanity Fair

Yvonne S. Marquez is a lesbian journalist and Autostraddle senior editor living in Dallas, TX. She writes about social justice, politics, activism and other things dear to her heart like Selena and tacos. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in journalism and has since written and edited lots of gay stuff for the internet. Yvonne calls the borderlands home, strongly identifies with her Scorpio moon sign, and really hopes to crush the patriarchy soon. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter.

Yvonne S. has written 202 articles for us.

57 Comments

  1. The photos are amazing but her quotes from the VF interview really blew me away. She’s terrific; I love how she took down the critics and shared personal insight about her experiences. She gave us so much by sharing her narrative. I love her voice, too; she talks like a boss while sharing such vulnerable anecdotes. What a rock star.

    • yeah! it was like they proof-read the first and final paragraphs without bothering to look over the middle bits. Blehhh. I guess better reason to just stay within the safe confines of the straddleverse.

    • Yeah, I was rolling my eyes in exasperation before I even finished reading the first paragraph. Really really disappointing to see the continued use of male pronouns and discussions surrounding her body. So gross, Bissinger.

  2. “If I was lying on my deathbed and I had kept this secret and never ever did anything about it, I would be lying there saying, ‘You just blew your entire life. You never dealt with yourself,’ and I don’t want that to happen.”

    Good life advice for everyone.

    Also I hope the reality series focuses on what Caitlyn wants to focus on and not on stupid things like talking to “Jenner’s 89-year-old mother, Esther, about the possible motives behind her son’s transition”. Speculating when you’re also interviewing the person….common.

  3. Based on the posts I have seen on my Facebook today, people are most shocked her name is spelled Caitlyn and not Kaitlyn, which makes me feel pretty good, like people are pretty accepting and the spelling of a name is the only thing they are commenting on.

    • I have been seeing the opposite response from people on my various social media feeds, which is unfortunate. And that’s why this is the only site I fuck with on a daily basis anymore. I did see that most celebs are commenting nice things about Caitlyn but unfortunately when you scroll down you see that their fans are giving them shit for it on their pages. Young people too. I thought young people were supposedly so much more enlightened on these issues than adults are but I guess not. I won’t even go into what I’ve seen so Christians saying about this.

      • I haven’t ventured much further than my own Facebook feed, which is a lot of comments about the spelling of the name and a lot of “damn she looks good,” so I guess that is telling about my friends. I’m scared to read the comments anywhere else.

    • My FB feed was pretty muted re Caitlyn, but one friend did link to a horrible blog post / rant that started by criticizing her as self-serving and ended with questioning whether or not she’s a real woman. So offensive. And that’s why I’m reading AutoStraddle right now.

      • And I went back to FB and my friend has taken down that link. I don’t know why, but since I spent like 20 or 30 minutes composing a measured but not too measured response to her link, I’m going to take the credit and say that my comment made her rethink her link. Dialog FTW.

    • Ugh…plastic surgery, chemical peels, make up, and photoshop. Jenner is photographed often enough for us to know her skin didn’t look that youthful not very long ago. No one ages in reverse.

    • A lot of people can look amazing with enough cosmetic surgery and photoshopping. Pay attention to the ochre air-brush tones that feather-out every hard edge that screams ‘male’. I worked in advertising for years. I see these superb photos in the red light of the developing room. Please, don’t get caught up in the error that equates transition – success with cover-girl appearance, that isn’t even real. Save your praise for the persons that fight your fight, in the trenches, instead of celebrating themselves. – Tupungato.

  4. This was a pleasant surprise to see this morning. Caitlyn looks fierce. I doubt I will buy the actual issue since I hate Vanity Fair any other time but I’m proud of her anyway.

  5. Totally 100% supportive of Caitlyn’s transition (not that it’s in any way up to me), but does anyone else feel like this cover is a really clear symbol of our very warped concept of the gender binary in this country?

    She doesn’t look fierce to me, honestly. She looks like a virginal mannequin. A decoration. Her hands are practically tied behind her back. Without knowing the subject, the woman posed in that photograph has no agency.

    The Kardashian conception of womanhood and femininity just really creeps me out, and I’m sorry that Caitlyn has bought into it. It’s obviously complicated because if she wants to glam it up, then she should — she should look exactly how she wants to look — but I just hope she realizes that you don’t need hair extensions and fake lashes and boosted boobs to be a woman.

    • I’m not expressing this exactly right. I don’t intend to criticize Caitlyn directly at all. I more want to open up a conversation about what we’re told femininity should look like. I don’t think the Caitlyn photographed grinning and holding a gold medal back when she went by another name is any less “woman” or “feminine” than the Caitlyn photographed perched on a stool in a bustier. And I’m sorry that she had to have ten hours of facial surgery to look more like she felt inside.

      There are ridiculously rigid visual standards that women are under pressure to live up to, and that pressure must feel about a thousandfold higher for trans women. There are whole other layers there, too — I acknowledge that I know nothing about what it feels like to be under pressure to “prove” that you are really your gender. I’m sure that pressure is huge, and again, Caitlyn should look exactly the way she wants to look. But I just hope that America won’t look to her and continue to have this idea that looking a certain way, no matter the cost, is what makes a trans woman (or any woman) female enough, good enough, attractive enough, whatever.

      • You can’t tell just by looking at how someone dresses whether they’re doing it that way out of feeling oppressed, or empowered, or oblivious or what-have-you. You can only tell that by talking to them. Goes for masculine, feminine, men, women, everyone.

        Based on her interview I would say Caitlyn seems like the last woman on earth to dress any way other than exactly how she pleases, patriarchy be damned. Her whole interview is about finally doing what she wants, and throwing off the pressures of cultural expectations of gender and appearance, and surgery is part of that: not conforming, but being free from having to conform. She cared more about that than winning an Olympic medal and being famous! She’s got her feet on the ground and a wise head on her shoulders; I’m not worried about her being a victim of the patriarchy at all. Instead I look up to her on how to be free from those pressures; I want to learn more from her.

      • To be fairness to Caitlyn (and I’m no fan whatsoever of her politics, but I wish her well on this journey) when you’re put on the cover of a rag like Vanity Fair, you don’t dress yourself nor style your own hair nor do your own makeup. They have an army of people who do it TO you likely brought in by soft-butch Annie Leibovitz. Moreover, the average person having their photo shot in a glossy mag has no control over how much digital retouching is done. So to make this a discussion of how Caitlyn should present her womanhood seems ill applied. To make this discussion specifically about a trans woman on the cover of a magazine and how she might be enforcing a binary of gender expression is focusing on a group which still has their womanhood dismissed no matter how they present. If you want to critique something, critique Vanity Fair and their advertisers.

          • I agree with both of you, definitely. What I’m trying to say isn’t really about Caitlyn, or even about wanting to glam it up every once in awhile — especially for a spread in a fashion magazine. That all makes sense. I’m talking more about the inherent systems in place that have conditioned us all to think that a certain face is more feminine than another, that a woman’s pose is more passive and helpless than a man’s, that a woman on a fashion cover will show skin where a man might not. Embodying those traditionally feminine trappings must be very empowering for Caitlyn, which is great, but the narrowness of our culture’s idea of WHAT is feminine is still a problem.

          • (And point definitely taken about the fact that everyone feels entitled to debate a trans woman’s gender presentation. Although I brought it up here because it was striking to me in this cover, the problematic nature of our narrow perceptions of femininity is something I can explore without implicating any trans woman, and I’ll try to do so in future.)

    • Thank you Queer Girl.I expected to find the previous comments, but was hoping to find one like yours. More persons should have your view. What we are seeing here is what can be accomplished with relatively unlimited money for cosmetic operation, assisted by airbrushing and photoshopping for what cannot be accomplished. This presentation perpetuates the falsehood that a transition is judged by how closely it results in cover-girl appearance. It is sad how this mindset has contributed to the despair of teens who cannot access services (ie: hormone blockers).But how much of this is real will have to wait for real photographs taken by real people. And when I say this, I am also slipping into the mode of judging by appearance. That is how pervasive this mindset is. I hope this publicity will continue to de-stigmatise transitioning. I also hope that after the excitement subsides persons will return to honoring and respecting the transgendered persons who had to struggle with lack of money, persecution in society and workplace, and even physical violence, who could not look like a Dancing Queen. Many of these persons created support structures for others like themselves or persons with entirely different problems to overcome. I am Intersexed, not transgendered, so I always feel like a tolerated guest here. From my viewpoint, I am suggesting caution, moderation, and to stay focused on the core of your purpose and not to be swept away by the Kardashian media machine. – Tupungato.

  6. Now that she has this great platform, I’m hoping she’ll shape up and stop with the conservative Republican shit. Maybe too much to expect from super rich white people, though, and especially the Jenner-Kardashians. But I’m always flabbergasted when LGBTQ people are conservative/Republican. Makes zero sense to me. Not like Democrats are MAGICALLY better, but at least they’re not gleefully taking my rights and calling me the same as a pedophile (scratch that, WORSE than a pedophile, because Josh Duggar is just fine and I’m still destined for hell). Privilege really is blinding, I guess.

  7. So happy for her! But are her kids taking Mom shopping? Because she needs a gorgeous new wardrobe for her gorgeous true self and obvs Caitlyn is surrounded by clothes horses.

  8. I’m really happy for Caitlyn. She’s living her authentic self and in a way that feels best for her, including her physical appearance, and the visual representation of femininity that (hopefully) feels best for her…etc etc. Howeverrrrrr, I’m kind of rubbed the wrong way by all the media surrounding this… rather than reiterating what’s already been said, I’ll post an article from guerrilla feminism that I think captures a lot of my thoughts, particularly:

    I have no problem with anyone achieving success in becoming happier with themselves. That shit is cool, and I like it. I do have problems when, in the process of telling their story, people end up ignoring the stories of many, less fortunate, others. The people who are at serious risk of homelessness, unemployment, no access to health care, buying hormones on the street, and not to mention, being murdered for being themselves. It’s fucked up, and it makes me sad/angry.

    http://www.guerrillafem.com/2015/06/on-caitlyn-jenner/

    Just wanted to throw that out there.

  9. This is what has been subconsciously bugging me, even on this supportive AS thread and other supportive threads: now that she’s female, the thing to do is comment on her appearance. Even positive comments make it seem like her appearance is more important than her other qualities, and we as the viewing public feel entitled to comment on it. It’s uncomfortable, esp when she has such a damn remarkable story and interview that are ground-breaking and substantial.

    http://mic.com/articles/120033/jon-stewart-made-a-brilliant-point-about-caitlyn-jenner-that-nobody-s-talking-about

    • You are correct. The Kardashian media machine has turned this into a national referendum that equates transition success with cover-girl results. If I may, for a moment, slip into this error: But is this even real? In the photographs the ochre tones that feather every edge are airbrushed in. The crotch has an ochre tone while the fabric is white. This presentation uses technology to promote the perception that transition success is judged by cover-girl results. It hurt me to feel how much this error contributes to teen suicide. Please, save your praise for the persons who struggle every day without the benefit of money and protected status, who devote themselves to helping people like themselves, istead of celebrating themselves. – Tupungato.

    • Jon Stewart has a long history of making transmysognist comments and jokes pls stop giving him cookies for this “clever” commentary… like stop giving men credit for saying the most basic things, stop it now. “nobody” is talking about this? a lot of feminists incl a lot of trans women talked about the cover in really good and nuanced ways but as it always happens everyone’s reposting that fcking gif set and patting Stewart on the back..

  10. I actually think that article brought up some very important points.

    Transwomen and ciswomen go through a completely different experiences of womanhood, and it’s important that we don’t steamroll each others identities.

    And I’ve seen steamrolling from both sides.

    • You’re absolutely right that it touches on some important issues – it’s the tone of this article that really got to me – the use of male pronouns and the idea that one woman coming out as a glam woman (after all, glam is what the Kardashian family circle does) somehow means that the rest of us are going to okay ‘oh, okay, that’s how I’m supposed to act too’. So she might not be setting the women’s rights movement on fire, but she’s a celebrity doing what hundreds of female celebs do!

      Sorry, I sound like I’m lecturing you when you clearly don’t need it, but really I’m just venting. I’ll go read that other article now…

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