Review: I Am Cait, Episode 6—The One About Dating

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Hell is most decidedly chilly as I am starting to enjoy watching I Am Cait. I’m not sure what’s happened; I think it’s the drop in fake drama over the last couple of episodes. Whatever it is, I’m admitting to liking a reality show publicly, and I’m fairly OK with that.

Mostly. Kinda.

The theme of the sixth episode is dating, which is at odds with what Caitlyn has said time and time again: dating was the last item on her list. Yet people keep unfairly forcing her to deal with her sexuality and ask about her sexual preferences.

She doesn’t want to deal with it yet, and the constant questions are invasive. It’s not as bad as asking about genitals, but I’m not OK with the show putting so much focus on Caitlyn’s sexuality. This week’s I Am Cait opens with one of the weirdest scenes of television I’ve ever watched: Caitlyn and Courtney, who I think is part of Caitlyn’s stylist team, are talking, and Caitlyn says that heterosexual dating is nothing in comparison to transgender dating, which is true and comes up time and time again this week. Then Courtney’s boyfriend arrives, and he’s steered into a minefield of a conversation that wasn’t really fair. His answers are awful all the same, and I question whether they’re still together.

“What if you were really into someone and found out they were trans?” Courtney asks her BF, and he replies with the worst terminology he could possibly have used.

“I believe that should be something up front or that is deceptive.” Caitlyn nods, completely missing the “deceptive trans woman” trope issue, and adds, “You would have to be honest right from the get go.” Oh Caitlyn, still a long way to go. You could’ve slapped him down for saying deceptive. Trans women are not deceptive, if anything we’re protective. Not really liking his answer, Courtney ask another question: “How would you react if I was trans?”

He replies, “Well, we’d be friends.” Yikes.

Caitlyn asks, “Is it about other people, how they’d perceive you?”

He replies, “No, it’s about how I perceive you.” Dude, you should have bailed on that conversation right at the start, because now you’re in a hole 9001ft (over 9000!) deep and you’re not getting back out. This exchange highlights how hard it is for trans people to date, let alone find long-term relationships. I can’t blame Caitlyn for saying that dating might be too much for her at this stage of her life. This scene, though, was super awkward and felt really fake to me, like they had planned to pile these questions on the the unsuspecting BF. Ah reality TV. You’re not real, and it’s weird.

Last week, after getting taken to task about not using inclusive language, Caitlyn uses “us’”when referring to trans people. It’s a small thing, and I’m not sure if many people will have noticed, but it does show that Caitlyn can and does learn as she’s going along; this is progress from last week. I Am Cait then tackles something that they’ve only spoken about in the past as Candis takes Caitlyn along with her on a visit to the doctor.

This is a great thing to have on the show for cis and trans people alike.

Cis people don’t understand how hard it is to get medical treatment when trans, let alone good medical treatment. Due to how we get treated by medical professionals, a lot of trans people avoid seeking health care. I think it’s positive to show that not all doctors are awful towards trans people, but of course it helps when you have TV cameras following you around. Candis and Caitlyn go to the L.A. LGBT Center—people apparently drive to this place from hundreds of miles around. Trans healthcare where I live in Canada might well be poor, but at least we have healthcare. While they’re there, Candis tells stories about how she’s been treated by doctors in the past, and Caitlyn is shocked.

From inappropriate medical exams(!) to doctors that flat out refuse to treat her. Sadly, trans people don’t get respect or help from the medical establishment, and as a result of that, Candis has been self medicating. HRT can be very dangerous, as you are changing your endocrine system, and that has potentially huge consequences. The benefits of HRT with medical support are the monitoring, mostly in the form of blood work that checks everything is working and that none of your internal organs has decided to jump ship.

After a great segment like health care, the show switches to a nightclub that Caitlyn has been badgered into going to, and it’s clear that she isn’t into nightclubs. Throughout the whole sequence, Caitlyn looks very uncomfortable, especially with the male dancers just wearing what look like speedos. Afterward, Candis talks about sexuality and gender and says they are two different things and that she expects Caitlyn to be into women—a lead in to the Jenny and Caitlyn sequence that comes next.

Caitlyn is struggling with her sexual identity. At this point, she’s two months into transition, and for some reason, she’s got a strange view that, to be a woman, you need to be dating a guy. Everyone around her keeps asking if she’s into guys or women, and at a time when Caitlyn is struggling to make sense of where she is, it all seems a little unfair. Jenny is, again, the voice of reason that guides Caitlyn and sets her right when she needs to be—the hard conversations friends have.

Caitlyn says, “It would be attractive to me to have a guy treat me like a woman.” Jenny calls her out on Caitlyn wanting to be defined as a woman by being with a man. “Caitlyn Jenner, you are a normal woman today; you don’t need a man to make you a woman. A woman can make you a woman.” Also, you can make yourself a woman; you don’t need anyone else. Jenny ends on, “We all deserve love.”

After that real talk comes a group dinner where all the trans women from the road trip get together again along with a couple of friends, and again, the conversation is about dating. The act of dating changes when you’re transgender. The process changes because of how cis people react to you when you say you’re trans. It instantly transforms from polite conversation—”Do you want to go out on dates?” “Which restaurant?” and “Do you want to see a movie?” and so on—straight to, “Well, we can’t date, but do you want to fuck?”

Avoiding the cis male problem is leading to a lot of trans people dating other trans folk. Someone at the dinner yells out, “We should all date trans men and get over [dating cis men].” It gets quieter as Caitlyn and Candis get some time to talk together, and Candis goes into her past abusive relationships.

She talks about accepting behavior that she’d never accept in any other situation, “Being trans and trying to date, you’re limited.” Candis goes on to describe that because “your pool of men is thinner when you’re trans,” cis guys take advantage and behave like trans women don’t have standards or choices, so more abuse happens.

The show ended on two upbeat segments; the first was making me tear up, and the second was making me think, “WTF!”

First up was a trans youth camp. This was so moving as they talked about how trans kids deserve to have friends and make connections with other people. The camp seems so positive and this year helped 400 trans kid campers in different locations. Justin, aged 9, summed it up nicely, “Being around friends is really nice when you haven’t had friends most of your life.” The support is great, and the camp looked cool. Caitlyn added, “This camp gives you hope.”

The show then ended on Caitlyn giving Candis a Lamborghini to drive for a couple of days, because her Volvo is having electrical trouble. I couldn’t believe it; that is the last car to give someone that has never driven supercars. Lamborghini are notoriously fickle cars that will bite you if you don’t know what you’re doing. For the whole segment, I expected Candis to press the accelerator too hard and spin or slide into something else. Yikes.

Without the drama, and despite the awkward opening, this was another OK episode of I Am Cait. I liked that we’ve had two more low key shows in a row and it’s made me feel like the show is finding its voice and it’s a positive voice compared to I Am Jazz, which is a show about a young trans girl. The preview for next week makes me think the drama is back though as Caitlyn’s ex wife comes for a visit, we’ll see if I Am Cait dips back into the Kardashian drama pool or keeps true to itself.

Marcy (@marcyjcook) is an immigrant trans woman and writer. This includes, a website dedicated to informing and helping trans Canadians. She also has a nerd job, too many cats, is a part time volunteer sex educator and has an ongoing sordid love affair with Lego. Those last two are not related … probably.

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Image of Marcy Cook
Marcy Cook
Marcy (@marcyjcook) is writer with a nerd job that pays the bills, and she lives with far too many cats. She's trans, sex positive and has an ongoing sordid love affair with Lego. Those last two are not related… probably.