Caitlyn Jenner’s Transition is Doing Great Things for the Transgender Population

Caitlyn Jenner

Photo via Vanityfair.com

When Caitlyn Jenner sat down with Diane Sawyer a little over a month ago, the world got a peek into the transgender experience in an informed, thoughtful and sensitive manner. Hopeful that this would pave the way for acceptance and cultural change, it turns out it has.

Barnard College, one of the oldest collegiate institutions dedicated to educating women, is one of the many sex-restricted colleges that controversially denies admission to trans women. The policy, which has recently been overturned at similar institutions like Mt. Holyoke and Bryn Mawr, may dissipate next week based on a vote by the trustees. And in an unexpected turn of events, Caitlyn Jenner may be who to thank.

Jennifer Finney Boylan, a trans woman who teaches at Barnard, told the AP that mainstream representations of transgender individuals, from the Caitlyn Jenner interview to Laverne Cox on Orange is the New Black, promotes these issues in even the most traditional institutions.

Let’s hope Barnard will extend admission to those who identify as women, and that more exposure from the likes of Caitlyn Jenner, Laverne Cox, Janet Mock and others will pave the way for better protection of trans individuals under the law and a more sophisticated view of gender in our collective culture.

Watch Vanity Fair behind-the-scenes with Caitlyn Jenner below:

BlackBook Tracks #23: Teenage Kicks

This week’s playlist is dedicated to being a teenager, which is something that people seem to be universally nostalgic for despite the fact that we can all agree that a lot of those years sucked. Does it have something to do with missing when you didn’t have any real responsibilities? Whatever. Shout out to anyone who knew me in high school who’s still friends with me now, because all the awkward stuff that happens to me currently doesn’t even compare to how bad it was back then.

Veronica Falls – “Teenage”

This track inspired this week’s theme. It’s the first single from the London band’s forthcoming album Waiting For Something To Happen, promising more wistful lo-fi guitar pop.

Broken Social Scene – “Anthems For A Seventeen-Year-Old Girl”

This is never going to get old, right? No, no it’s not.

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – “A Teenager In Love”

Most of the Pains Of Being Pure At Heart’s songs sound sort of inherently nostalgic, but “A Teenager In Love” really nails it. If only more bands had been mixing twee and shoegaze when I was in high school, it would have made lying facedown on my bedroom floor way more special.

College – “Teenage Color”

This track from French electronic producer David Grellier may be carried by a carefree synth hook, but there’s still the constant reminder that one day, you must grow up.

Marina and the Diamonds – “Teen Idle”

This ballad from the Welsh chanteuse is a look back on the bygone years that nails all those conflicting feelings. Feelings! Those sucked, didn’t they?

The Virgins – “Teen Lovers”

Remember when fashionably sleazy Gossip Girl/Nylon magazine rock was sort of its own micro-genre? It was pretty alright while it lasted, though.

TEEN – “Sleep Is Noise”

The lo-fi synth-pop outfit delivers reverb-laden vocals over a rattling beat. It’s comfortably fuzzy while staying firmly grounded.

T.Rex – “Teenage Dream”

Marc Bolan’s glam rock sprawl recalls the idealism of adolescence. We’ve all been there.

Girls Aloud – “Teenage Dirtbag”

A Wheatus cover done by British pop stars is a thing that happened a while ago. I don’t care if you care that it exists.

The Undertones – “Teenage Kicks”

I think it’s some sort of law in the English-speaking music world that if this punk classic doesn’t do anything for you, you’re a worthless shell of a human being.

Follow Katie Chow on Twitter.

New Reality Show Casting Husband-Hunting Grad Students

The same reality show creators behind Miss Advised, the program which deigned to put Julia Allison on television as a "dating authority," is currently casting ladies enrolled in grad school who are looking for that "Mrs." degree as well as an MD, PhD or MBA.

Jezebel was alerted by a tipster to a casting call on Craiglist posted in that educatinoal mecca of Gainesville, Florida. It claims the producers are from Bravo’s Miss Advised and ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and are working with High School Musical star Ashley Tisdale’s production company, Blonde Girl Productions.

To whit, per Craiglist:

Looking for Love on Campus?? Calling all graduate degree-bound women looking for "Mr. Right" in college!

Are you getting your masters degree in hopes of finding the man of your dreams? Have you always set your sights on getting married in school or soon after? If you are in the process of getting your MBA, PhD, JD or any other graduate degree, and you hope to find the perfect man in the process, we are looking to speak with you about an exciting new TV show.

The creators of ABC’s "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" and Bravo’s "Miss Advised" are partnering with Ashley Tisdale’s Blondie Girl Productions to cast for an exciting new docu-reality series on a major cable network. The show will focus on bright young women who are proud to be educating themselves while working towards their most important career goal yet … becoming a wife!

We want those blossoming, vibrant women to stand up and speak out about their journey to receive not only the degree of their choice, but to find the husband of their choice! We are looking to document these amazing women on the adventure of their lives pursuing their MRS. Degree!

Is marriage your ultimate goal? Have you met the man of your dreams in grad school? Or have you fallen in love with a career path? We want to hear your story. If interested in learning more information about the show, please email us your name, age, graduate program and all about your current journey at GraduateLoveCasting@rrstaff.com or call 323-860-6778.

Ooof. I know this is the point where, as a feminist, I’m supposed to rant and rave about bloody offensive it is to suggest a young woman’s "most important career goal" is "becoming a wife." And I most certainly could go on for pages and pages about its offensiveness. (And also inaccuracy: marriage does not, by definition, have a lot of bearing on one’s career "goals," unless  you are gunning to be one half of a power couple.) And I could/would use words like "backlash" and "regressive" to describe this reality TV show. How else would you describe a program exploiting the fact women’s educational accomplishments now surpass those of men to remind us all that what society really cares about is being a good little June Cleaver? Reality show producers must be thrilled the feminist movement has given them so much material to work with.

But instead? Honestly? All I’m going to say is that this doesn’t even sound interesting. It sounds like a trumped up version of what those of us who are economically privileged enough to pursue higher education are doing in real life. In our 20s and 30s, we are going to school and looking for love. Yes, it’s true! Some of want education, careers and marriage. Kids, too, even! It’s 2012 — they are not mutually exclusive.  Whether you’re a man or a woman, you probably have a dozen female friends who are pursuing degrees while dating. They are not necessarily gunning for the "Mrs. degree" on purpose, but would certainly like that to happen down the line. You can listen to your friends complain about this in wine bars RIGHT THIS VERY MOMENT if you want. Wanting to get married isn’t something to be ashamed of, not even if you’ve got a couple of degrees. #sorryfeminists

So in that sense, it is "reality." But it’s only going to be offensive the way that the show is positioned — women who are going to die alone with their cats because they are so ambitious and well-educated can’t find love!  So if you’re in one of the 20 cities were casting notices have supposedly been posted on Craiglist, stay the fuck away. (Unless you need the money to pay off your student loans and/or future wedding debt. That shit is no joke.) 

Contact the author of this post at Jessica.Wakeman@Gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter.

Pixar Creates Fake University Website to Market ‘Monsters University’

With the release and reaction to Toy Story 3, it was clear that Pixar was onto something, appealing to the now college-aged audience who had grown up with the films. Now, after a pair of lukewarm releases (Cars 2 and Brave), the studio is marketing to the young-adult Pixar faithful with the upcoming Monsters, Inc. prequel, Monsters University, which looks at Sully and Mike’s college years. In what’s actually a pretty charming promotional exercise (if such a thing can actually exist), Pixar created a fake “.edu” website for the university in the film.

As far as a fake college website goes, the Monsters U site will look eerily familiar to anyone who’s gone through the university application process. Sweeping, brochure-panorama views of the campus, colorful CGI monsters biking on the quad and excessive school pride around athletics—the new football quarterback recruit even has a particularly quarterback-y name and the swim team conference champ won acclaim thanks to his worm-like body and seven legs propelling him to victory. There’s even a university news feed featuring academic studies and choir performances and information about Greek Life. Pandering it might be, but it’s comprehensive and, yeah, still cute. 

The College Poster Sale Is The Apex Of Western Culture

Not long ago I was whining about the slight irritations of living smack-dab in the middle of eight or nine college campuses. But it occurs to me now that I had forgotten one element of the back-to-school atmosphere that is wholly above cynicism and likely the very pinnacle of aesthetic achievement: the sidewalk poster sale.

Surely you remember these. You arrive at your dorm and realize the decorations you brought from home are both too meager and too juvenile to make the room come alive—you need something much, much cooler. Plus, maybe you and the roommate would like some consensus on what the walls look like. Neutral territory, if you will. Off you go to the poster guy!

Which poster is right for you? It’s not an easy question. There is much soul-searching before you select the right mass-produced image to express your individuality. But here are some suggestions:

  • Stills from Scarface (1983)
  • Dalí paintings that look like Pink Floyd album covers
  • Pink Floyd album covers
  • Anything with Audrey Hepburn, looking adorable
  • Vintage Parisian advertisements featuring black cats
  • John Belushi in the “COLLEGE” shirt from Animal House
  • Hokusai’s The Great Wave at Kanagawa
  • A blacklight-activated Jimi Hendrix
  • “Keep Calm and _______.”
  • Something with a humorous adage about drinking beer on it
  • Something confirming in no uncertain terms that you do, in fact, smoke weed

Remember, your choices are virtually unlimited and will determine the snap judgments fellow students make about you when entering your living space. Good luck out there, and definitely don’t just get a poster with a half-naked babe on it: that’s what your laptop is for.

Follow Miles Klee on Twitter.

University Offers Class on Beyonce

Beyonce is many things: singer, dancer, living pop icon, wife, mother, and namesake of a new breed of horsefly. She is also the subject of a new course being taught at Rutger’s University, "Politicizing Beyonce."

Taught by lecturer and doctoral student Kevin Allred, he tells Focus that “this isn’t a course about Beyoncé’s political engagement or how many times she performed during President Obama’s inauguration weekend.”

So what is it about?

The university’s news site gives this description:  “The performer’s music and career are used as lenses to explore American race, gender, and sexual politics… Course topics include the extent of Beyonce’s control over her own aesthetic, whether her often half-naked body is empowered or stereotypical, and her more racy performances as her alter ego, Sasha Fierce.”

There will no doubt be plenty of music video watching. Jay-Z also has a course centered around him at Georgetown called "Sociology of Hip Hop: Jay-Z."  Some school really needs to get on Baby Ivy Blue Carter 101.