Kendall calls Caitlyn Jenner a 'he' but we shouldn't judge her for it

Jun 22, 2015 at 2:58 p.m. ET
Image: Dennis Van Tine/Future Image/WENN

Caitlyn Jenner celebrated her first Father's Day since her transition and, judging by the sweet social media posts from her kids, it was a pretty great one.

More: Kendall, Kylie Jenner mark emotional first Father's Day for Caitlyn

Kylie showed the love on Instagram with an almost too-cute throwback photo of the family. "Happy Father's Day my little light of sunshine. 'You can still call me dad, Kylie. No matter what I'm always going to be your father. That's never going to change,'" she captioned it, quoting Caitlyn.


Said Khloé, posting a much older picture of Caitlyn pre-transition alongside the late Robert Kardashian, "Thank you Lord for blessing me with not one phenomenal father but I was lucky enough to have two."


And Kendall added a precious memory to the mix, too, posting a picture of her father kissing her toddler self. With it, she offered a moving mini-tribute, saying, "My whole life this soul was my daddy and just because your appearance is different now doesn't mean you were any less of a father to me my entire life. Happy Father's Day to the person who raised me, and taught me everything I know, my hero."


Clearly, all of Caitlyn's kids — and stepkids — are embracing the fact that there are many different ways to be a dad. That a person can be a woman and be a dad, and that their love for their children is what truly matters.

So why is it that certain sites want to focus on the fact that Kendall referred to Caitlyn as "he" in a recent interview with E! while in New York City?

When asked about the potential impact of Caitlyn's upcoming docuseries, Kendall replied, "I think that he can honestly do so much good with everything and I'm excited for it. If he's excited, I'm excited for him."

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So, yes. Out of respect for her, we should all be referring to Caitlyn with feminine pronouns. But it's also obvious that Kendall has tremendous respect for her father. Her very comments to E! carry the weight of her love and respect for Caitlyn.

I've read articles that say, "It's no big deal if Kendall slipped up; we've all done it." And while I agree with the sentiment, I think it's incredibly unfair to throw Kendall in the same boat as the rest of us. Family and close friends of those who've transitioned? Sure. But those of us who are not living the experience shouldn't get the same hall pass.

If we can remember to update our relationship status on Facebook and to use socially relevant hashtags on Instagram, I'm positive we can remember to refer to Caitlyn Jenner with the correct pronouns.

I understand this inadvertent slip on Kendall's part, though, because I believe it stems from familiarity. It's like muscle memory: Kendall has spent her entire life referring to Caitlyn with male pronouns. It may take some time for that to not be second nature.

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Although I can't empathize precisely with her family, I can pull a crude example from my own life — how long it took me to refer to myself by my married name. For months after my wedding, there were often times I used my maiden name without so much as a second thought. I was even guilty of writing it down without realizing the error I'd made.

It was such an intimate, personal and complex thing, leaving one identity behind for another.

This is a simplistic correlation, and one that in no way comes close to the experience of transitioning for the trans person or their family. But, still, it helps me relate. Kendall isn't choosing to continue to refer to Caitlyn using male pronouns, in my opinion. She is simply referring to her father in the way she has referred to "him" a million times in the past.

It will take time. We can cut her some slack, right?

As far as the conundrum over how to refer to a trans dad, feminine pronouns for women are still correct, as in, "She's my dad." If you think it sounds weird, well, you'll get over it.

And if you're ever fretting about what to say to a trans dad on this annual holiday, a simple "Happy Father's Day" is a pretty perfect place to start.