Today's caption was inspired by Caitlyn Jenner's transition; I'm sure it won't take long for you all to notice the parallels between its narrative and the former Olympic champion's story. I know I'm a little late to the party, but I would like to say a few things on the subject.
First, I'm extremely surprised that the media response has been mostly positive. Aside from a few negative outliers (the usual suspects), most people have been supportive of Jenner's transition. The worst I've heard from friends, coworkers, etc. is that they simply don't care. That's a long way from the cries of "freak" that, ten or fifteen years ago, no doubt would have accompanied that Vanity Fair article So that's progress, I think.
Second, I'm glad that Ms. Jenner finally made the jump. After sixty-some-odd years of living in the wrong skin, it must have taken quite a bit of gumption (yes, I used that word) to go through with the transition. So congratulations to her. She looks great (at a reported $4 million cost, she should), and I hope that she can now live the life she wants to live.
That said, I can't help but approach her transition with a healthy dose of skepticism (given her family's obsession with fame), I choose to adopt an attitude that lets me believe someone is what they say they are until they prove otherwise. However, I can't really deny that I have some concerns.
At the very least, the media coverage feels like an exploitation of transgender issues. We're expected to hold up Catilyn as some sort of beacon in the night for trans issues, but her situation is so very different than what most of us experience, and in so many ways. At its worst, it's a glorified publicity stunt by a troubled person. I'm not saying that Caitlyn's crazy. I'm really not. I am saying that it's entirely possible that, as (reportedly closet crossdressing) Bruce, she wasn't happy, and that she felt like she was playing second-fiddle to the women of the Kardashian plan. Is it really that big of a jump for her to have attached their fame to their exaggerated femininity? And over time, is it unrealistic that a gender-confused man might grow to covet that femininity-fueled fame?
Or maybe it really is as simple as Caitlyn claims. She's going through an extremely difficult transition, and she'd like to have cameras following her around as she navigates the quagmire of issues that surround a gender transition.
The other problem I have is with a simple sentence attached to one of Ms. Jenner's Instagram posts. "Trans is beautiful." I can't tell you how wrong this is. While there are beautiful trans-women (and men, come to that), the idea that being transgender is somehow special or admirable is troubling to me. It holds us up like we're mere curiosities, like we're sideshow freaks, that the very nature of being transgender is beautiful. Being transgender (or any other member of the LGBT community) doesn't make us special. It's neither good nor bad. We're people living our lives. The sooner we all stop attaching labels like courageous, brave, beautiful and heroic (or their negative counterparts) to something as mundane as gender identity, the sooner we can all move on to live our lives without the stigma associated with it.
Look - I'm not saying that Caitlyn's transition isn't news. It is. She is a former Olympian, and arguably one of the greatest athletes of all time, after all. That she's transitioning is a big deal. Maybe there's someone out there saying, "If Bruce Jenner could be Caitlyn, maybe I can be myself too." That's a good thing.
And despite my natural skepticism (and my need to build a drama-filled narrative around everything), I do hope that Caitlyn's happy now. And I want to believe that she's doing this for the right reasons (because she truly feels like she was always a woman). I'm just a bit of a cynic, okay?
I can only fervently hope that one day, someone transitioning from one (physical) gender to the other isn't met with awe, curiosity, media coverage, or the inclination to film what (I think) should be a fairly private process.
Anyway - enough of my thoughts on current events. Here's today's caption.