"I Am...": Caitlyn Jenner, Jazz Jennings and the cultural politics of transgender celebrity

Michael Lovelock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Citations (Scopus)
8 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

In the twenty-first century, the visibility of transgender celebrities appears greater than ever. Whilst scholarly work has analysed, and continues to analyse, representations of trans celebrities, this research has largely approached these figures as significant because they make transgender visible, rather than the more specific fact that they are celebrities. This article interrogates the role of discourses and tropes of celebrity itself in enabling particular incarnations of trans subjectivity to become intelligible within popular culture. Focusing upon the examples of Caitlyn Jenner and Jazz Jennings, two of the most widely-circulated trans celebrities in the contemporary moment, I argue that the tropes of authenticity, self-reflexivity, self-revelation and manufacture central to celebrity culture, have functioned as core discursive frameworks through which Jenner and Jennings' transgender identities have been rationalised within the popular media. In becoming legible as transgender through celebrity, I argue that Jenner and Jennings' media narratives have worked to confer recognisability to a highly limited model of transgender life, fraught with exclusions around race and gender normativity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)737-754
Number of pages18
JournalFeminist Media Studies
Volume17
Issue number5
Early online date16 Mar 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Keywords

  • Transgender
  • celebrity
  • reality television
  • Caitlyn Jenner
  • Jazz Jennings

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