CAITLYN

Caitlyn 4

An open response to the ignorant and disrespectful post to the basic rules of humanity, written by Matt Walsh for The Blaze. 

A decade after we met, I sat across the Studio City California Pizza Kitchen table from my high school soul sister. She put the silly in my goofball, shared my passion for music and was my high-five-go-to-girl (“oh-my-god-no-way!”) for my secret boy crushes. She also damp-shouldered every youthful heartbreak I ever had. 

I was more excited than usual to see her because she told me she had news and for ten years I had waited to hear that she had finally found a boyfriend. I looked expectantly at her from across the table and said, “Well?!”

She squirmed in her seat and looked everywhere but at me for a few moments and said, “I’m in a relationship…”

I jumped in my seat, giggling and clapping.

“…with a woman.”

I froze mid-jump/giggle/clap and looked at her while a decade of misunderstood moments came at me like a Nolan Ryan baseball pitched in a life-flashed-before-my-eyes, fast-motion movie montage.

Oh. My. God. Of course! How did I not see it?

My celebratory chair dance became more animated than ever, because it all made sense.

 homer_simpson_doh-1

 I was beyond happy for her. I also felt like the worst friend of all time. Had I done something to prevent her from telling me? When I later told my parents, they looked at each other and then at me while simultaneously singing, “Du-uh.”

I looked at her and realized the miracle of this change. She managed to crack open a coconut-shell, revealing her center. I was inspired by her strength and honesty and envious of the power of her authenticity.  It helped me see the importance of individual truth and that without it, we had nothing.

As she came out, I witnessed a painful loss of “friends” who chose to remain limited in their narcissistic expectations on the life of another. And I was incredibly proud of my friend.

While so many have been positive, I will never understand the negative reactions to Caitlyn’s transition. While scrolling through my Facebook feed, I tripped over an article on a website (launched by Glenn Beck in 2011 called The Blaze) entitled Calling Bruce Jenner a Woman is an Insult to Women, by Matt Walsh.

Click bait.

The opening line: Parents, be aware: soon the magazine rack in the checkout line at the supermarket will feature this profoundly disturbing image of Bruce Jenner.

 Caitlyn Jenner

 Is he suggesting we hide these things from our children? More like a missed opportunity for a great conversation starter at the grocery store check-out counter. “Timmy, please put the candy bars back. We should be eating lots more veggies. And, hey, what do you think of that Vanity Fair cover photo?”

I loved those conversations with my kids. There is no better way to get a fresh perspective on something than from the open mind of a child. Not a child who has been told what to think, feel and believe, but one who has been exposed to tolerance and encouraged to speak from the heart. I also really wanted to know my children at their core.

Mr. Walsh makes some points about our narcissistic culture and Caitlyn’s transition buying right into our cultural objectification of women with the excessive use of makeup, hair extensions, cosmetic surgery, sexy lingerie and air-brushed photos for Caitlyn’s feminine magazine cover debut. Okay, but is that what this whole thing is about? That’s a whole other article. After 65 years of presenting the “man lie” that was Bruce, to those Annie Leibovitz glamour shots that are Caitlyn, I say “you go girl!”

Then Mr. Walsh makes the accusation that “he resembles a mentally disordered man who is being manipulated by disingenuous liberals and self-obsessed gay activists.” Judgmental psychological diagnosis, political stereotype and homophobia all rolled into one neat little phrase.

Help me out. Is Caitlyn “mentally disordered” because she is a woman trapped inside society’s dictation of the body of a man? Uh. Maybe she was just born that way, Matt. And are all liberals disingenuous, or just the ones supporting Caitlyn Jenner? Are all activists self-obsessed? Or just the gay ones?

I can’t even begin to imagine what it must feel like to look like one thing and to know in your heart of hearts that you are something else. And who is to say what is “normal?” Navigating from a childhood sexual inkling to a fully realized gender and sexual being is a serious expedition. No two experiences are exactly alike.

Mr. Walsh says the situation is depressing, wrong and disgusting, calling Caitlyn selfish for “taking their father from his children and coercing them into dealing with such a devastating development in front of the whole world.”

GROWN children, I might add. And if Caitlyn wasn’t her authentic self, she was never fully available to begin with.

I have mixed feelings about the public display because it is something I would probably not want to put my own children through. But that would be my choice. The Jenner family has been in the public spotlight for a very long time, and while tripping through the mine field of gender/sexuality is a private path for most of us, this is not a private family. The words “brave,” “heroic,” “beautiful” and “historic” have been peppered throughout many articles on this subject for a reason. It is easy for people like Matt Walsh to sit back and point a judgmental commentary at people for what he thinks they should not be doing rather than coming up with possible solutions as to how we can all love and understand one another as the beautiful individuals we are.

Narcissism is not a new thing. Its long-remembered myth has been around inspiring works of literature, poetry, paintings and other works of art for two thousand years. Does the release of our true self indicate an act of narcissism? I think it just makes us honest and more fully equipped to live a happy life. Matt Walsh says Caitlyn Jenner “reminds me of someone who is being abandoned to his delusions by a culture of narcissistic imbeciles.” But who are the true narcissists here? The ones releasing their inner rawness and their best parts for all to poke at, ridicule and hopefully, maybe love? Or those who have created an arrogant and narrow expectation of the limited parameters of life for the rest of us? Caitlyn is finally speaking the truth for who she is. It is the narcissist who lives a life of lies. 

As one who celebrated the Olympic gold medal male athlete that in my limited exposure and expectation was Bruce Jenner, I have to admit that I had mixed emotions over the Vanity Fair photo. When I first saw it, it took me a minute to adjust. But that was about me and my personal adjustment to the change. Does it affect me? Does it in any way hurt me or my loved ones that Caitlyn revealed what she feels is her true identity? Nope. On the contrary, she has opened up a clearly much-needed dialogue.

I have a friend who has a child who went through the opposite transformation as Caitlyn. While my friend wholeheartedly supported and welcomed her new son into her life, there was a period of mourning the loss of her daughter. There is an adjustment period that should be acknowledged. But, seriously. If they can handle that adjustment, can’t we?

Matt Walsh says transgenderism kills feminism. There was a time when radical feminists were at odds with the idea of transgenderism, suggesting transgender women had not earned their femininity and as “women by choice,” they continued to benefit from male privileges. Any group promoting discrimination of any kind should be examined and the exclusion of transgender women is not a widely held belief among feminists in general. True feminism is about equal rights for ALL women. There are a few sour grapes on every vine.

Just as gay marriage takes nothing away from marriage between a man and a woman, a transgender person in ZERO WAYS threatens my femininity. In fact, a transgender person celebrates it. And I am pretty damn sure Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair debut in no way affected my sexual attractiveness to my significant other.

One more thing. Mr. Walsh complained about GLAAD using the phrase “authentic self” (which I too have used throughout this piece) as a means to define “a digitally modified, cosmetically altered, manipulatively posed, chemically tampered with, basically cartoon image on a magazine cover…” HELLO? It’s a freaking picture. Show me a magazine cover that hasn’t been altered! What GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis actually said was, “By sharing her journey with the world, Caitlyn Jenner is accelerating acceptance of transgender people everywhere and reminds us all how important it is to live as your most authentic self.” The key words here are “to live as your most authentic self.” To refer to the magazine cover alone completely misses the point.

It kills me to think about the torture my dear childhood friend must have endured simply because she thought she would not be accepted for who she was. The discovery that one of my children had struggled that way would have been much worse. Shouldn’t our goal be about love and acceptance of the truth in all of us? Without that, don’t we limp through life as hollow shells of potential? Perhaps we should stop all the labelling and choose acceptance and love.

As to Caitlyn Jenner’s “insult” to women? Please. Caitlyn’s debut arrived after years of painful self-reflection and obvious effort in finally achieving that goal. As a woman, I have never felt more complimented.

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4 thoughts on “CAITLYN

  1. starting to piss me off Trina ….a beast on the piano keys and now your showing off your exemplary writing skills. What a narcissist. Lol! Seriously, a good childhood friend is on FB with me and we have ‘talked’ about this issue. People often talk about choosing the gay lifestyle. Why would anyone want to endure the painful ridicule and alienation that can come with being gay / transexual. I don’t remember the time when I chose to be straight. I will still probably laugh at some of the Jenner jokes in the appropriate company, but I think Caitlyn coming out is a good step forward in making it ‘ok’ to be who the fuck you really are. Good for your friend too. Hope she can live a happier life. Good read Trina!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I didn’t think it was a big deal. I guess because I have so many friends in a similar situation, different places in their lives and I love them all the more for it. True people. I’m glad I kept them around, and I’m glad they kept me around! Ha. Good for Caitlyn, I say. She’s beautiful and I wish her the best. Bye bye, Bruce, you were a great guy, too. Excellent article, Trina! Salute!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks Trina, you get a lot more good miles out of the Caitlyn issue than Matt Walsh whose self-appointed “professional truth sayer” mind thinks he is competing in the Indi 500 unaware that he is driving a car on 4 square wheels. You got those good miles because you didn’t discuss transgenderism but aspects of mutual human respect, kindness, understanding, common sense, and wisdom that serve us well if we want to interact with each other normally and productively. Thank you for sharing that.

    When was ‘coming out’ invented as some noteworthy public rite that deserves a commercially profitable media circus like this one.
    Pretty recent, it seems.
    I don’t like this presentation (doumentary in 8 -eight!- parts, award for ‘courage’ etc.), It begins to look like the Jenner franchise and I see show business with big dollar signs all over it, but that is me. Annie Leibovitz had fun showing a 65-year old as a sexy 35-year old. That’s show business, too. Enjoyable if it’s your taste. Many transsexuals and transgenders are very good at it because it’s in their genes, so to speak. But their name isn’t Jenner.
    It will be all worth it, if it can loosen up our morally and sexually repressive society, if it helps governments to free all sexual identities and orientations from legal restrictions, and it will pay off even more if it can decrease or eliminate the social stigmatization of living one’s own sexual life freely but discreetly. Stigmatization is still pushed so vehemently by so many religious and social fundamentalists.

    When did being transgender become a phenomenon?

    The term is only as old as … 1965, says Wikipedia. Wow! Is it that new?
    Prior to that transgenders qualified ‘scientifically’ as transsexual.

    Transgenders and transsexuals are as old as mankind, as man and woman. For the longest time mankind has lived with this ‘hybrid’ as comfortably as with being woman or man, because transgender is a sexual identity and not a sexual orientation.
    We all probably meet them quite often without knowing or noticing, because most don’t make it an issue. Why would they? As transgender or transsexual they are hetero-, homo-, bi-, or asexual in the way they live their sexuality (Mrs. Jenner is or was apparently lesbian, yes, life is complex).
    As personalities they are open or discreet, flamboyant or shy. They are black, white, or any other color, they laugh and cry, they are happy with their sexual life or they struggle with it, they marry and divorce or are bachelors, have children or not, are monogamous or promiscuous, and what have you, They are geniuses or average people, rich or poor. They have their strengths and weaknesses. They get sick, get better and at some point they, too, die.
    They are human beings like the rest of us, and no human being is ‘standard’. That is the normalcy of being human.
    What makes them unique is their ‘hybrid’ identity, the certainty that their inner gender came in the wrapping of the opposite gender. In our square society, they must solve the problem that their body sends the wrong signals: you don’t get what you see.

    I have a transgender friend, psychically male, physically a woman. Her orientation is homosexual and therefore she is attracted to the physical male. She has been to a straight man (her words) for 33 years married, grown children, young grandchildren. She is a practicing gynecologist.
    Although she is a male, in public she wants to be seen and treated as the woman that her appearance shows to the world. The less confusion the better.
    I have known for a long time she was transgender, but we never had reason to talk about it specifically. This morning I called and asked her to fill in some of my ignorance. About her transgender identity she said this (among others):

    “It was very confusing and painful during puberty. With me puberty took much longer than average, as if my body and mind needed extra wiring time to get compatible. But once I had figured out that I was a natural transsexual, I learned to be open about it to the people I live with. They must know it. With my family and close friends I definitely use my special talent appropriately and enjoy it.

    “For anyone else it’s irrelevant. So in public I routinely behave as the woman one encounters. That’s not difficult to do.

    “Being transsexual or transgender is an identity in and by itself. The person must accept and live it or go crazy.
    I have seen it turn into great confusion when a transgender or transsexual wants to be a male or a female. The only reason they could want it is because these are the only two options that society offers. The desire to conform with what is socially normal is the root of the emotional and psychological pain. This desire can be very powerful, but alienating yourself from yourself is asking for more and more serious trouble.

    “A born transgender cannot know what it is to be male or female, and males and females cannot know what it is to be transgender or transsexual. We must accept and respect one another. We can learn a lot mutually.
    I think that show-casing one’s gender or orientation like so many feel they must do these days, draws only attention to the differences between the genders and it weakens the attention we should give to our similarities, to all the things we share as human beings. In the end, we are more similar than different, and the differences are overall much less relevant than the similarities.” .

    What’s in a name? What is in a label?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for such an educated and well-spoken comment, Frans. It’s a blog post in itself! My first reason for writing the piece was out of a need to comment on Matt Walsh’s incredibly disrespectful and ignorant piece. My second reason was to gain a better understanding of transgenderism myself and your comment alone has furthered that wish.

      I agree with you about the media circus. Celebrity is so often coupled with exploitation. I would imagine there are transgender people who would not have appointed Caitlyn Jenner as “transgenderism spokesperson,” but as you said, if it opens up a dialogue and brings more awareness, openness and understanding to this and related issues, it will all be worth it. People are talking about it more than ever.

      I am glad you pointed out the difference between sexual identity and sexual orientation as sexuality and gender are two separate issues, both very complicated. Our culture has packaged them in narrowly defined boxes that do not leave a lot of room for individuality.

      We are multi-faceted, which may be another reason I wrote the piece. All those tiny bits about each of us is what fascinates me. We never know what amazing things we will learn about people if we remain open. Call me overly optimistic (I’ve been accused of it many times), but I hope to someday see a world where we are all respectful of all that makes each of us who we are.

      Your friend sounds beautiful and amazing.

      Liked by 1 person

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