TV

Caitlyn Jenner is glad people are talking

Caitlyn Jenner accepts the Arthur Ashe award for courage at the ESPY Awards.
Caitlyn Jenner accepts the Arthur Ashe award for courage at the ESPY Awards. Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

Caitlyn Jenner accomplished exactly what she wanted to do with the first season of her E! series “I Am Cait.” She wanted to get people talking about transgender issues.

The initial season of the show, which featured Jenner getting coaching advice from Candis Cayne, Jenny Boylan and Chandi Moore, was about dealing with all of the changes in her life. The first episode, according to E!, ranked as the most-watched unscripted series launch among adults ages 18-49 of all new cable programs.

“Every day of my life since I came out, somebody comes up to me and says, ‘I have a trans cousin.’ ‘I have a relative.’ All of a sudden, it’s OK to talk about this issue. We opened up this conversation, but in opening it up, there are so many issues in this community that we really need to deal with and to talk about in the future, and that’s what Season 2 is,” Jenner says.

Despite all of the headlines, TV reports, magazine features and TV show, Jenner doesn’t see herself as a spokesperson for transgender people. It’s a mantel she’s had to accept because of being such a public figure. One way she’s been able to handle the pressure is having so many friends who support her.

“I am with the greatest group of women you could possibly be with. These are smart, intelligent, fun people to be around, and they need to be represented positively out there,” Jenner says.

She wants people to think about positive issues rather than focusing on the number of suicides and the murder rate when it comes to transgender people. There were 20 transgender women murdered in 2015, twice as many as the year before.

Jenner also wants to stress that this is a global issue. When Jenner met for two hours with United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power, she learned that it is a criminal offense to be transgender in 90 of the 193 member nations.

The fact Jenner is looking at serious issues makes it the opposite of her previous series, “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.” That reality show is more about the lifestyles of the rich and privileged.

“It was a conscious decision that I wanted this show to be about the issues. Sure, we all love good clothes and all of that kind of stuff, but I really wanted the people to get to know all of my girls, everybody that’s involved with the show,” Jenner says. “I love my kids. I have a great relationship with all of my children, but this is a different show. This is about a serious issue, and so I wanted to somewhat keep that distance.”

Jenner is much more comfortable hanging out with the new people in her life. Most of Jenner’s life, she never liked going out because she never felt like she fit in anywhere.

She describes herself as being a loner through most of her life.

“Now, after transitioning, I actually really enjoy going out. I really do. I have so many fun things to do, and all of my girls have helped me out kind of getting past the tough part, which is the beginning when you first do go out. And now I’m just very comfortable with myself, and I really actually enjoy a social life,” Jenner says.

The second season of “I Am Cait,” launching Sunday, March 6, takes Jenner from chatting with friends to seeing how the public is reacting. She and her friends traveled to various parts of the country to see what people are thinking and saying. Stops included the Grand Canyon, Santa Fe, Tulsa, Kansas City, St. Louis and New Orleans. Even when the group visited truck stops in Middle America, they were greeted warmly.

All of the traveling is meant to spark conversations.

“I have never sought fame and all of that kind of stuff. That’s just not me. The only thing that I have struggled my whole life is finding inner peace. I have found that. I want this community to be represented the right way,” she says. “ The platform is not for me. It is for this community. It’s for all of the people that we just went out and met across the United States of America to be able to tell our story.”

Rick Bentley: 559-441-6355, @RickBentley1

I Am Cait

  • 9 p.m. Sunday, March 6, E!
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