Just one day after her Vanity Fair cover story came out, Caitlyn Jenner has already stolen headlines and broken records. Formerly known as Bruce, Jenner’s transition to Caitlyn has been lauded as a transcendent moment for the transgender population and LGBT community, and the positivity can be seen all the way in China.
Though Jenner has spent most of her life in the public eye, initially as a gold medal-winning Olympic athlete and more recently part of the reality television show "Keeping Up With the Kardashians," international media attention has never been quite like this. Thousands of miles away in China, commentary about Jenner’s gender transformation, coupled with the high-profile Vanity Fair shoot by renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz, has impressed many Chinese.
While the story doesn’t have the traction it does in the United States, the limited coverage that has come from the Vanity Fair cover has been positive and surprisingly accurate in terms of transgender reporting practices. Sina, an online news portal, ran a brief story titled “Former Olympic Champion Transitions to Be Female” and adopted the appropriate female pronouns throughout the story. According to That’s Online, a English-language China news site, most Chinese media outlets made the seamless switch to using just female pronouns, which is more than some Western news outlets can say.
“My hope is for a world where we can all be as brave as Caitlyn Jenner,” one user on Weibo wrote, posting the instantly iconic Vanity Fair cover.
“I had the honor of meeting Bruce Jenner but now I am excited to Meet Caitlyn! I am so glad the struggle is over,” another added.
The mostly warm reception to Caitlyn Jenner may be credited to her status as an international athlete. That’s Online points out that the Chinese are Olympic-obsessed. Whether it's over their own athletes, winning the gold or getting a bid to host the games again, the general Chinese public has always respected the talents of all Olympians and those who are part of the organization.
“We knew her as Bruce Jenner winning the decathlon in the Olympics, and later as Kim [Kardashian’s] father, and now we know her as Caitlyn Jenner,” another user posted. “Her most fitting role.”
“A figure of strength in sports and outside of it,” another wrote
There is precedence for a transgender female public figure in China. Some commenters made the association with “Venus,” or 47-year-old Jin Xing, arguably China’s most prominent transgender figure, and host of her own talk show. According to an exclusive interview with the World Post, Jin has ambitions of becoming China’s Oprah -- and she’s well on her way. She began performing as one of the People’s Liberation Army’s most talented male dancers before becoming a talk show personality and mother of three.