In the resulting weeks since the first images of Caitlyn emerged, outspoken reaction has come from all sides. While there was an inevitable furore of resultant negativity, the blunt transphobia circulating on social media seemed to be shared mostly by those angry at its existence, not those who agreed with its message. While it may be true that those who shout loudest are the ones being heard, it certainly appears that the majority of people seem to be wholly supportive of her. This being new ground in celebrity-land, support is certainly being accompanied by a rapt curiosity, but that could only be expected from such a public transition. But if nothing else, it's meant that people are talking publicly about gender in a completely new way.
Calls for Caitlyn to have her Olympic medals revoked and comparisons of her bravery to the bravery of soldiers have caused uproar across the internet. But humanity's worst traits can filter publicly through behind the anonymity of a computer screen. Just because prejudicial memes exist, get shared or go viral doesn't mean that their messages are being heard. And the loudest messages of support are coming from the generation of people who are most acutely aware of the Jenner/Kardashian brand. I'm 29 years old and have never watched an episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, but Caitlyn's ex-wife Kris Jenner, as well as her ex-step children the Kardashians are international celebrity/reality/style icons. Kim and her husband Kanye West are possibly the most famous couple in the tabloids today and for young people, the largest consumers of celebrity culture, these are influential figures. Kim's candid public support of Caitlyn can only have been a positive thing. Brand Kimye is an aspirational juggernaut, after all.
Caitlyn probably never intended to become the figurehead that she's become. On Keeping Up With The Kardashians, Bruce was always the quiet and withdrawn figure, not wishing to draw attention to himself, but we now know that Caitlyn struggled for most of her life with her gender identity and even though she's now 65 years old, that she has now stepped out so publicly as a transgender woman can only be seen as a triumph. In order to be able to live openly as a woman, the media attention was unavoidable and it's admirable that this previously quiet man had the courage to face it head on, becoming a strong and empowered woman. While people may talk about Kim's clothes, or Kanye's outbursts, or Kris' next reality venture, the platform that this meaningless reality brand has created for something so much more than itself has endowed the whole family FINALLY with a purpose to their fame - to promote and champion trans* issues. So all hail Caitlyn; a reluctant, yet proud, icon.