The ‘iconic’ Caitlyn Jenner

The New York Post, of course, splashed the Vanity Fair cover of Caitlyn Jenner on the front page, but really, a day later, this is old news. In fact, it’s been old news, really, for months.

Yes, I’m happy, too, that after all these years Jenner has now shown courage in asserting her true self. But let’s not forget the courage of Richard Raskind, the ophthalmologist and tennis pro who transitioned back in 1975 to Renée Richards and then had to fight tooth-and-nail for acceptance as a female tennis player–and who was among the first class of inductees into the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame in 2013. Or even Ellen DeGeneres, who came out in 1997 with a “Yep, I’m Gay” Time magazine cover, though like with Jenner, that was so heavily teased in advance it was no big surprise.

What’s different this time, really, is that big cash Kardashian cow. Indeed, Jenner hasn’t been an “iconic” American sports hero–as some in the media now make him out to be–in the 40 years since Bruce Jenner won the 1976 Olympic Decathlon. “Sports hero,” yes, but only “iconic” as a minor TV personality, Keeping Up with the Kardashians notwithstanding. Perhaps he’s been a person of value to society besides celebrity, but not to my knowledge, unlike say, Beau Biden, whose tragic death Jenner’s Vanity Fair cover inevitably minimalized.

But Caitlyn Jenner now has the chance to become truly iconic on her own terms, depending, that is, if she has anything more to offer her reality and ours than the trashy reality shows that has made her an icon. Her hugely promoted transition, while momentous, is just a moment in a fast-moving mass media story, not to mention a fast evolving-society in which she is now primed to play an important leadership role, should that now be her choice.