If I had to describe her recent media presence in one word, it would be “disappointing.”
Her coming out in 2011 meant a great deal to me. At the time, I had been transitioning for three years and I was in something of a period of limbo in my life, having graduated from high school less than a year earlier. I saw so much of myself in Janet’s story - she and I were both harshly sanctioned for our femininity as young boys, we both doggedly pursued transition while in high school, unshakably certain that it was the right path for us, and we both had little trouble assimilating into society as women. The parallels I drew between her life and mine were significant because she was everything I wanted to be. Janet was a beautiful, accomplished woman with a great job and a boyfriend who was proud to be with her. She helped me to have genuine optimism for the future, and she was the first transsexual public figure that I related to in any meaningful way.
Janet has said that she chose to come out publicly in order to provide hope to struggling young people. In the beginning, she clearly succeeded in that - her honesty about her life, both before and after she pursued medical treatment for her dysphoria, showed that one truly can come out on the other side of transition a successful and happy person. However, the reality is that picking fights on Twitter over acknowledgements of the facts of her past and touting prostitution as an “empowering choice” for desperate teenagers is of no service to transsexual youth. At best, Janet distracts from real issues by making her primary concern forcing people to follow the convoluted language guidelines of transgender activism. At worst, she glorifies institutions that do tremendous damage to young girls and gender nonconforming boys alike.
Either way, her behavior is a serious letdown.