We May All Know a Caitlyn. Why Our Reaction Today Matters…

I wrote this facebook status last December 2014 and wanted to repost it here today:

“I just learned something about my mom that I never knew. When she was in her 20s, she was a supervisor at a major telephone company in Houston, TX. This was in the late 70s.

There was a man there (we’ll call him “Bob”) who became one of the first people ever to use major health insurance company benefits for a sex reassignment surgery. Apparently there was a lot tension in the office during this period, mostly by my mom’s male boss and some of the other male employees.

Things got even more heated when after a few months, Bob started using the women’s bathroom. Bob received threats from some men, and some of the women were uncomfortable.

My mom says that she didn’t really understand what Bob was going through or why he wanted/needed a sex change, but she knew that Bob was being persecuted and she wanted to figure out a way to help even in a small way. So she gave Bob a key to her apartment that was across the street, and invited Bob to use her restroom anytime during the day.

She told me this story tonight and I don’t think she realizes how cool and moving that is. She jumped to the aid of a white male in the ‘70s who was transitioning. Pretty intense and remarkable, and I’m proud of her so thought I’d share☺”

I’m reposting this today because while I’ve seen an overwhelming outpouring of support for Caitlyn Jenner, I’ve also seen lots of people (some high profile, and some even people that I dig a lot), throw shade. There have been really ignorant posts by people, and because I have my mom as an example here, you can’t tell me that this type of thinking and behavior is to be blamed on race, age, culture, orientation, or “lack of exposure.”

I’m not going to try to convince you to change your beliefs. But if you think this is a joke or something you can easily make fun of and not take seriously, you should know two things: 1. A trans person is killed or commits suicide every 36 hours, so the bravery here is remarkable, and 2. Caitlyn lived as a man for 65 years before she was able to be herself. You may very well have someone in your family, a close friend, someone you look up to, an employer or employee, or a child who has this inside of them and isn’t living their truth. Your reaction today could be a matter of life and death to them. Please just consider that.

Thanks,

-Arlan

www.twitter.com/ArlanWasHere

I’m the founder and managing partner of Backstage Capital, a seed investment fund that backs high-potential, underrepresented startup founders. I am also a tour manager, currently working with New Zealand Music Award winner Janine & the Mixtape. Not braggin’, but I have been called the “Lebron James” of venture capital (by my brother).

For interviews or to set up one-on-one “office hour” sessions at your event, email ARLANhamilton@gmail.com with the subject “interview request,” or “conference appearance request,” etc.