The value of the spot­light

The Washington Post Sunday - - SUNDAY OPINION -

I was stunned at the tone-deaf na­ture of Kath­leen Parker’s June 3 op-ed col­umn on Cait­lyn Jen­ner, “A trans­gen­der cover girl.” Usu­ally, I find Ms. Parker’s com­ments thought­ful.

At a time when trans­gen­der peo­ple are be­ing vil­i­fied, shunned and mur­dered, the need for high­pro­file, at­trac­tive rep­re­sen­ta­tives could hardly be more im­por­tant. The sui­cide rate among trans­gen­der peo­ple is shock­ingly high. Shar­ing ev­ery step and ex­pe­ri­ence of Ms. Jen­ner’s tran­si­tion will go far to hu­man­ize what it means to be trans­gen­der.

Sid­ney Poitier (among oth­ers) played this role for black peo­ple. Ellen DeGeneres played it for les­bians. El­ton John played it for gay men. Peo­ple fear and hate what they do not know, and Ms. Jen­ner is do­ing ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to see that peo­ple know what it means for some­one to be trans­gen­der.

She may save lives, heal fam­i­lies and ed­u­cate masses in a way no teacher or colum­nist ever could.

Michael Rios, Ar­ling­ton

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