[BRIGHTCOVE “20927896” “” “” “auto” ]We gathered together Sunday to watch the I Am Cait finale for the same reason Caitlyn Jenner and her assembled friends gathered at the end of the episode: To mark a moment.
Or, in the words of minister Allyson Dylan Robinson, who led Jenner’s renaming ceremony: “To acknowledge the journey.”
And what a journey: The finale’s hour folded back on itself frequently, as Jenner, 65, reflected on the progress she had made – not to mention people she had met, obstacles she had overcome and challenges still to be conquered – just in the few months since her public transition.
Their sit-down, as Jenner later explained, was “hard” but not tense. Both women were able to air their grievances, with Jenner beginning by explaining how hurt she was to not have been invited to daughter Kylie‘s graduation festivities.
“For 15 years of my life, I carpooled kids every day. Some days, I spent three or four hours a day in the car,” she said. “[It’s] a slap in the face when you don’t even get invited to their graduation.”
But Kris, 59, said that dealing with Jenner’s Vanity Fair profile – and the comments about their family therein – has been very hard for her.
“It’s very difficult to hear when you feel like you gave your whole life to somebody, that the sum of it all was: You were a ‘distraction,’ ” she said, tearing up. “So that killed me.”
The rest of the conversation was much like this – Jenner explained how she felt cut off and how she thought the family was overreacting to VF; Kris said she felt left behind, as though her feelings didn’t matter anymore, and that Caitlyn was insensitive.
Both Kris and Jenner said afterward that such communication would be key to their relationship and to keeping the family together moving forward.
They may not always agree with how the other is feeling, but it’s important to hear her side.
“The key is to have patience,” Jenner said. “Keep love in your heart and stay committed to the goal, and I am really hopeful that Kris and I can do that.”
Sweetly, the emotional talk ended with a selfie.
The rest of the hour looked forward.
Many of Jenner’s new friends in the transgender community, including Jenny Boylan, Candis Cayne and Chandi Moore, were at her side throughout the episode. All three spoke at the renaming ceremony, each sharing a special perspective on Jenner’s new life and how she had changed them.
“I can’t think of a time ever that I’ve so celebrated being trans,” Moore said in an interview, describing the effect of her friendship with Jenner.
Cayne, who performed “Amazing Grace” (at Jenner’s request) while backed by a choir, told the camera that her time with Jenner, helping raise awareness about issues afflicting the transgender community while growing closer with Jenner as a person, “has changed my life forever.”
Boylan, ever the academic, read an e.e. cummings poem for the renaming ceremony entitled “i thank You God for most this amazing.”
Robinson opened with a word about the power of names, which serve as symbols of a parent’s hope, signs honoring the past and arrows toward the future.
Then she spoke to God: “Our friend, our sister, comes before you seeking a new name by which to be known,” she said. “Bless her as she steps across this boundary in your name, which above all other names, is love.”
The ultimate decision was Jenner’s. Robinson asked her, “What shall your name be called?”
And to Jenner’s declaration – “Caitlyn Marie Jenner” – Robinson gave one of her own, for everyone assembled: “If you affirm it, with Caitlyn, say it with me.”
And then there Jenner stood, herself, and she was so thankful.
“It has been an amazing journey, and I’m seeing all of it come true,” she said. “I’m in a great place in life and, for the first time, I feel like I fit in some place. Being my authentic self. Thank you.”
The journey they were marking wasn’t over – indeed, in some ways, there is still no end in sight – but it is the progress that has made it worth it.
As Boylan told the camera, quoting her mother, “You can’t hate anyone whose story you know.”
Closing the series, Jenner appeared in a final video diary entry as no-frills as when I Am Cait premiered.
“I want to help people in my community. We have a long way to go, but at least we got a really really really good beginning,” she said. “And that makes my heart feel good.”
If you affirm it, say it with me.