For many athletes, winning an Olympic gold medal would qualify as life’s most rewarding moment, but for Caitlyn Jenner, 40 years after the fact, she’s feeling even more triumphant. Caitlyn is covering Sports Illustrated for the second time (the first, in 1976, celebrated her Olympic decathlon win in Montreal), but rather than holding on to former glory days (her medal now lives in a bathroom drawer), she’s living a gratifying and authentic life since transitioning from Bruce to Caitlyn last year.
Spreading her message of self-acceptance after years of bottling up her truth, Caitlyn has become a beacon in the transgender community thanks to her celebrity, shedding much-needed light on the challenges and prejudices many in the trans community face, opening up the airwaves for further progression on the issue.
“I feel like, now, nobody can say they don’t know a transgender person, because she is that famous,” says Chris Mosier, 35, a transgender male triathlete who represented the US at the world sprint duathlon championships last month in Spain. “She has brought about this awareness among people who are attuned to pop culture and media. Challenges that trans people face have really come to light since she’s come out.”
As the Rio 2016 Olympics near, we’re hopeful that more trans athletes will feel supported and accepted. In the meantime, Caitlyn’s purpose is evident and we can only hope to see her devotion continue to positively impact the transgender community and have an all-encompassing impact on diversity.