Purely Caitlyn: Reflections on Caitlyn Jenner’s New Name


Hats off to Caitlyn Jenner. Her courage to share her transition with the public marks an important step towards equality for trans individuals everywhere. Cailtyn’s cover shot on Vanity Fair shows us that trans is beautiful, that we all have the freedom to define our own identity.

While Bruce Jenner confirmed the gender transition during an in-depth interview with Diane Sawyer in April, it wasn’t until yesterday that she revealed her new name, Caitlyn. Jenner told Vanity Fair she was considering other names, such as Cathy and Heather, but that she kept going back to Caitlyn in her mind. When her assistant independently suggested the name Caitlyn, Jenner exclaimed, “I love that name, too!”

But in a family that includes Kris, Kendall, and Kylie, among other K names, Caitlyn is a deliberate departure. Jenner reported to Vanity Fair that she decided to “break tradition, and the media associations that went with it” by spelling Caitlyn with a C instead of a K. So, while the hard C/K start is consistent with the sound of the family’s names, she wisely avoided a K, which would have suggested being a part of something else, versus authentically herself.

Caitlyn is the American spelling of the traditionally Irish name, Caitlin. The 421st most popular female name in 2014, there were 686 babies born in the US named Caitlyn. According to babynames.com, Caitlyn means “pure,” a meaning that obviously resonates with Jenner’s motivations to transition. In her recent interview with Vanity Fair Jenner said that “Bruce always had to tell a lie, he was always living that lie… Caitlyn doesn’t have any secrets. As soon as the Vanity Fair cover comes out, I’m free.” The name Caitlyn supports Jenner’s choice to liberate her uninhibited pure self.

“By sharing her journey with the world, Caitlyn Jenner is accelerating acceptance of transgender people everywhere,” said Sarah Kate Ellis of GLAAD, “and [she] reminds us all how important it is to live as your most authentic self.” Caitlyn told Vanity Fair that on her upcoming E! series she will focus on lowering the rates of suicide and attempted suicide in the transgender community. Here at Catchword, we greatly admire Caitlyn’s bravery. Her choice to transition and her subsequent name announcement are truly inspiring to us.