Caitlyn Jenner so far has been a lot about I, Me and My. The show’s called “I Am Cait,” for heaven’s sake. But in this week’s episode, she got schooled in the virtues of “we” and the problems with “they” and “them.”
The fifth of eight episodes is bursting with pride festivals held one weekend after another: There’s L.A. Pride, which Jenner did not attend. Next is Trans Pride L.A. 2015, where buddies Jen Richard and Candis Cayne talk to Caitlyn via FaceTime and -- after the former Olympian asks whether people there are wearing Team Caitlyn T-shirts -- tease her about her “15 minutes” being over, ‘cause nope, not a Team Caitlyn T in sight.
“I think that’s less of a trans thing and more of a community, like a gay community kind of thing,” Candis says by way of hinting that the world might not be all about Cait. “I wish you could be here today, though.”
A day or so later (if the final edit reflects the real chronology of events), Candis is at Caitlyn’s house, urging her to come out at NYC Pride; the reality star explains why she didn’t attend L.A. Pride, even though sons Burt and Brandon figured it was a no-brainer: “I didn’t want it to be a circus,” she says.
Speaking of circuses, next to knock on the Malibu’s house’s front door is Scott Disick, baby daddy to Kourtney Kardashian and the first of Jenner’s straight male friends to meet Caitlyn.
“I really invited Scott over for a couple of reasons,” Cait says. “I want to stay close with my family members, and Scott still is part of the family, and will always be, because he’s the father of three of my grandkids. The second reason is, I really want to see the reaction to my quote, ‘male straight friends,’ and how they’re going to deal with this situation. I never really came out with guys, you know, been honest with them, so, kinda gonna take the temperature.”
(Something to note: From the episode alone, it’s impossible to tell exactly when Scott visited Caitlyn in Malibu, but one could presume it was after Trans Pride, which was June 19-20 and before NYC Pride the following weekend -- which would put their chat about a week ahead of Scott’s notorious early-July trip to Monaco, when he was photographed getting cozy with a former girlfriend. His and Kourtney’s split went public July 6, with sources saying he hadn’t stayed at their home in a month. Kind of explains Cait’s insistence that Scott is “still” part of the family. Later in the episode, Cait says Kourtney is “doing as well as she can do, under the circumstances. Relationships aren’t easy.”)
Scott tells Caitlyn, “You look great, you seem happy, that’s all that matters.” But when Caitlyn presses him for thoughts on what other men will think, he notes that not everyone is likely to be as comfortable with her as he is. Then they both enjoy the fact that Kris Humphries, the first Mr. Kim Kardashian, got flamed on Twitter and had to apologize publicly after writing, “Man, I’m glad I got out when I did.”
The next straight guy in Caitlyn’s crosshairs is Sergio from the hobby shop, who says he’s changed her name in his phone from Bruce to Caitlyn and joked with his wife that he has “a hot friend,” then doesn’t show at the Malibu house after he’s invited to come help with a broken radio-controlled helicopter.
“It looks like this is the first time I’ve been stood up,” Caitlyn jokes on the day Sergio is supposed to visit but doesn’t, after she’s waited all afternoon and wondered whether he got lost along the way.
In the days between the invite and the no-show, however, Caitlyn and Candis go to the L.A. offices of GLAAD for a visit with Sarah Kate Ellis and Nick Adams, where they all discuss a much-read transgender style guide that the organization put out before the Diane Sawyer interview and Sarah laments the fact that while outing gay people in the media doesn’t seem to be OK anymore, outing trans people such as Caitlyn apparently still is.
“We’re an incredibly diverse community,” says Nick, who transitioned in 1997, “depending on when we transitioned, what age, which way we’re going, where we grew up ... what our sexual orientation is ... whether people of color, and everybody’s experience is so incredibly different.”
Cait, the newbie expert, has an observation: “You know what I found out? ... They’re all so damn normal. They really are. They’ve been through incredible things to get where they are. You hear these stories and you can’t believe that all these girls were just like, now, so normal. So much fun, and wanting to enjoy life. I’m trying to make sure we project ‘em that way, like they’re not freaks, they’re not freaks of nature and this and that ...”
And here’s where Candis has had enough. She grabs Caitlyn’s arm to make all the words stop.
“We’re not,” she says, looking Cait straight in the eye.
“It’s hard to hear her say ‘them’ and ‘they’ when she talks about the trans community,” Candis says in a separate interview. “She still can’t grasp the concept that she’s a part of our community. Maybe it’s because she’s been outside looking in for so many years that she refers to us as ‘they.’ Then at the same time, people are going to look at that in a snobby kind of way, because it isolates her from her own community.”
After the GLAAD meeting, Chandi Moore shows up for a lunch in Malibu with the twosome, who’ve thoughtfully already ordered her a margarita. After Caitlyn shares that she is starting to feel like a part of the trans community and has learned so much from her new friends, it’s come-to-Jesus time.
“Sometimes,” Candis points out, “when you do say ‘them’ and ‘they,’ it’s like you’re not including yourself in that group of people. But you’re one of us.”
Chandi explains that Caitlyn needs to show the world that she’s inclusive about the trans community. “It’s totally one of those things where you have to start embracing the word ‘we.’ We could start there,” Chandi says. “Because when you say ‘they,’ or ‘them,’ to girls who have been on the streets, they don’t feel included. As you continue, I need you to say ‘we,’ not ‘they,’ and not ‘them.’”
Caitlyn -- who in prior episodes has been referring to herself in third person at about the same rate she whips out ‘they’ and ‘them’ -- then surprises nobody with a peek inside her mind: “I have had a hard time even with myself, identifying myself as me and who I am. It’s tough.”
She’s been living for so long with “She” -- remember the Sawyer interview, when Caitlyn’s name still wasn’t public, and she referred to her post-transition self only as She? -- being kept separate from other transgender people, she says she finds it easy to fall back into that rut.
“We want the outside world to embrace every aspect of you, the way we do,” Candis says, prompting Caitlyn to toast, “Here’s to ‘we.’”
Cut to June 26 -- the day the Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage to be legal in all 50 states. Caitlyn’s stoked. “This is a monumental week for the LBGT community. ... It just shows you how far the gay issue has come, in so many ways. The trans issue, the T, we still have a long ways to go. The trans issue is probably 20 years behind. We’ve got a lot of decisions and a lot of things that we have to get past too.”
Work that “we,” Cait!
And it’s off to New York for NYC Pride, where she’ll attend her first public event, a party where Candis is performing. It’s just a matter of booking a private plane, but assistant Ronda Kamihira is a rock star and that’s all taken care of. Caitlyn’s even met the guy from the plane company, on the golf course! Could things get any better?
Why, yes! Yes, they could. Cait could get that helicopter fixed, and Sergio could finally meet her. “When it comes to my male friends and meeting them, been kinda dragging my feet. But friendship is a two-way street, and I just decided, I’m going to the hobby shop for the first time in six months. I would just like to get life back to normal, that’s all.”
So she takes off in her Porsche 911 GT3 RS, a tricked-out gray demon with bright red accents and 450-horsepower that tops out at a little under 200 mph and is familiar from her Vanity Fair photo spread. Totally normal.
Sergio, for his part, is kind of nervous about seeing Caitlyn. “I’m confused,” he says to a producer. “We were shocked like everybody else. But I guess we’ll get used to it.”
“How bad did you miss me?” Caitlyn pronounces upon striding into the hobby shop, heli in hand. “Well, things haven’t changed.”
Sergio’s reaction? “Sure.”
Insert uncomfortable silence here.
The small talk about what’s wrong with the helicopter is a bit awkward as Sergio keeps looking up and down at Caitlyn, who’s lamenting another straight male friend’s failure to show up for a visit even though the guy keeps promising he will. “It is what it is,” she says.
Sergio’s first meeting with a transgender person was “kind of awkward,” he admits to the producer, smiling broadly after Caitlyn leaves. “We’ll get used to it. Whatever makes him happy. Or, her.”
Caitlyn considers the visit a success. The fate of the helicopter is unknown.
Moving on, she’s on that private plane with Candis and Chandi, celebrating the front-page news about the same-sex marriage decision and jetting east. Upon arrival in the New York, she has a mental note for her friends. “Just remember girls,” she says, “when it comes to these things, I’m a virgin. ... You’re going to have to take it slow. You’re going to have to do a lot of explaining.”
And maybe things are getting back to normal: At the Dream Downtown, Cait appears to be staying in the hotel’s 2,500-square-foot Guest House, which starts at $5,000 a night and features a spiral staircase, petrified wood bar and private terrace with a glass-bottom Jacuzzi.
Oh yeah, free Wi-Fi.
“I don’t think Kate has a clue,” Chandi says in an interview, “that there is so much separation within our LGBT community. The history with gay boys is, they’ve never been able to see trans women as someone who is a human being. ... There’s segregation right within our own community.”
Now, here’s where reality TV plays tricks with real reality: The women head to Patricia Field, the store run for almost 50 years by the woman of the same name who’s well-known as the costumer for “Sex and the City.” Patricia has been a trans supporter for decades, and it’s at her place that Caitlyn picks up the multi-colored sequin mini skirt and gray sparkly top she’ll be photographed in as she walks out of the store, um, two days after she shows up at NYC Pride. Willing suspension of disbelief is important when watching a docu-series.
Going backward in real time but forward in the reality show, we next hear Cait talking about how she’s dreamed for years about going public as a woman and has always been worried about how that first experience would go. And now it’s happening.
“Caitlyn! Caitlyn! Caitlyn! Caitlyn!,” the predominantly gay male crowd chants as Cait, clad in a conservative white dress, enters the club where Candis is going to perform. (Candis’ mom and dad are in the crowd, which is nice.) The crowd cheers and chants again as Candis introduces Caitlyn -- who stands and shoots video of the people cheering at her.
“I am so impressed with the LGB embracing your T ...,” an enthusiastic Chandi says back at the hotel penthouse after the event, and maybe after a few cocktails, judging by the way she steamrolls anyone else trying to add their two cents. “That just meant the world to me ... to hear them chanting Caitlyn. See what I mean? This is the type of impact that you are making on the community. And it’s not about you doing, or saying a thing. You haven’t said a word. But look how they love you.”
Chandi is definitely feeling the love. And we are feeling her curly red wig, especially when she’s out on the terrace and it catches the light.
“That hasn’t happened. That’s a big deal,” says Kate Bornstein, the author and longtime gender activist, who connected with the gang at the pride event and is talking about Caitlyn’s reception, not Chandi’s wig. “You’re opening doors for a lot of us.”
The episode closes with a celebratory montage of sorts showing Caitlyn and friends out and about in Manhattan, taking in a Broadway show and then hanging out backstage.
“Over the last couple of years, I’ve really isolated myself from the world,” Cait says, “especially the last five months, leading up to the Vanity Fair interview.”
“The vibe in New York is so different than what I’m used to. Everyone seems to be so excited ... that I’m there, and so enthusiastic. It’s kind of overwhelming.”
She’s never seen a response this big, “even in the old days."
“It has been an amazing journey for me,” she says over images that shows her exiting the theater to cheering crowds and a multitude of flashing cameras. “And I’m seeing it all come true.”