Why the Caitlyn Jenner “costume” is all kinds of wrong
Good grief, are we going to have to deal with a topical costume that also happens to be in straight-up terrible taste every Halloween? Last year, I’m sure we all remember the tone-deaf Ebola costumes. This year it looks like the costume that’s going to leave us all feeling weird inside is taking a literal page from one of the biggest pop-culture stories of the year; that would be, of course, Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair cover.
Let’s be clear that we LOVE Caitlyn Jenner and we loved her grand unveiling courtesy of VF. We’re also big supporters of Jenner’s reality series I Am Cait. It has been a joy welcoming Caitlyn into the spotlight and we love what an inspirational and educational figure she has become. That all said, we worry that those that purchase a Jenner costume (advertised as unisex, modeled in the photo by a cisgender man) will wear the costume to mock Jenner and turn her journey into a joke, and that we can’t abide.
As the Huffington Post reports, Spirit Halloween’s (the company manufacturing the Jenner costume) Head of PR denies that the costume is problematic.
“At Spirit Halloween, we create a wide range of costumes that are often based upon celebrities, public figures, heroes and superheroes,” she said. “We feel that Caitlyn Jenner is all of the above and that she should be celebrated. The Caitlyn Jenner costume reflects just that.”
However, Vincent Villano of the National Center for Transgender Equality rejects this explanation.
“There’s no tasteful way to celebrate Caitlyn Jenner or respect transgender people this way on the one night of the year when people use their most twisted imaginations to pretend to be villains and monsters,” he told the Huffington Post.
Twitter was also none too happy with the idea of this costume.
A Change.org petition was created by self-described transfeminine genderqueer activist Addison Rose Vincent, asking the costume’s manufacturers, Spirit Halloween, to cease producing and distributing the costume, which Vincent deems exploitative and transphobic.
“Yes, as your PR and marketing head Trisha Lombardo stated in an interview, Caitlyn Jenner is a hero and celebrated in modern day culture, but that doesn’t excuse the exploitation and transphobia you’ll be committing this Halloween,” Vincent explains in the Change.org statement. “To make a costume out of a marginalized identity reduces that person and community to a stereotype for privileged people to abuse. In this case, if you follow through with production of a Caitlyn Jenner costume, cisgender people will purchase it to make fun of her and our community.”
“. . . it seems best to avoid turning anyone in our community into a costume for your own profit,” Vincent concludes. “Do not turn Cailtyn Jenner into a costume. Your profit will only lead to greater transphobia and marginalization of an already at-risk community.”
[Image via Spirit Halloween]