Caitlyn Jenner: Opposing the conversation

Caitlyn Jenner

(Vanity Fair)

As we all know, Caitlyn Jenner made her first appearance on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine. She was dressed in a corset, wearing make-up, and had her hair done: she is a woman. Caitlyn has caught many people’s attention due to the fact that she, in fact, used to be Bruce Jenner. While people are entitled to enter the conversation, people are not entitled to be crude for no apparent reason.

Since most of the feedback and articles I have read about Caitlyn so far are written by uneducated, biased, and bigoted people, I think it’s first important to explain the very basis of this conversation. Being transgender means that one’s gender identity or gender expression does not match their assigned sex. Gender and sex are not related. This can be a full on discussion in its own, but that’s not my point here. My point is that if you’re uneducated and only operate on the binary system (people have to be male or female), then there is no point in trying to make you understand; you just don’t get it. What you are all forgetting is that Caitlyn Jenner is a person, not another object to exploit. Over 40% of people who identify as transgender or gender non-conforming commit suicide-do you really want to be another factor in making someone else’s life terrible?

trans(Huffington Post)

There is one reoccurring sentence I am continually seeing referring to Caitlyn Jenner: Bruce Jenner decided to dress himself up in girl clothes and pose for a magazine cover. Ummm, really? There are a number of things wrong with this sentence. Caitlyn Jenner is Caitlyn Jenner, not Bruce. Caitlyn goes by feminine pronouns like she and her, so he did not dress himself, she dressed herself. And yes, she posed for a magazine, not as a costume, as herself. Caitlyn Jenner is a human being and deserves to be referred to by her preferred pronouns which are feminine.

The whole religious debate surrounding Caitlyn Jenner is just ludicrous. If God created people as male or female and he makes perfect decisions and never messes up, what do you have to say about the other roughly 2-5% of the population in the U.S. that identify as transgender? Did God mess up that many times or do ALL of these people just want attention? It seems to me that people minimize the transgender person to an act of rebellion against God and/or society, when in reality they are a person who doesn’t identify with the sex they were given at birth.

Furthermore, to minimize all of the steps society has taken towards accepting people of the LGBTQ community to an era called the progressive era is idiotic at best. And on that topic, since when has being progressive turned into a bad thing? Accepting people for who they are is something that should be in human nature, not something to be moving towards. Unfortunately, society has taught us that the binary system is the only way and anyone who tampers with that is scary, disgusting, and should not be accepted. The fact that Caitlyn Jenner wears make-up and seems to have undergone plastic surgery is also among debate. Plastic surgery and make-up are among debate when non-trans peoples do it, as well. All there is to be said about that is if they have the money and they want to alter the way they look, let them. It’s not your body and it’s not your choice.

Although one problem I do see with the Caitlyn Jenner story is the publicity, I don’t think it has to be a bad thing. Doing anything under the eyes of everyone in the country is a hard thing, something Caitlyn knew she was getting into, but it doesn’t mean she even really has a choice. Caitlyn Jenner has bee on “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” for years, so do you really think anything she does from now on is going to happen without the eyes of every citizen watching her? A problem with this is that Caitlyn has an enormous amount of resources and support, something contrast to most transgendered peoples. It’s not easy to be accepted or get the money to change into the new identity you have always felt you are supposed to be. Caitlyn’s effortless change is not the norm for most transgendered peoples lives. That being said, Caitlyn can also be seen as a hero and courageous because she did what some people cannot do; she embraced the identity she truly believes she is.

What shocks me is the enormous amount of uneducated people in this world when it comes to the LGBTQ community. There are countless documentaries on transgendered peoples that recount real-life experiences of people who are, in fact, transgender. In an article by Matt Walsh, he states “Identity is not in the eye of the beholder… you don’t get to have a “new” self or another self or a different self or a self 2.0.” Well, Matt, hate to break it to you but Caitlyn didn’t create a “self 2.0” as you call it and she definitely does get to choose her own identity. If someone doesn’t feel they have been themselves for their entire life, you better bet they’re allowed to change into someone they’ve always felt they were: a woman. The very idea that people don’t get to choose who they are is just completely backwards and downright horrific. Do you mean to tell me, Matt, that if you felt like a woman trapped inside a man’s body you wouldn’t do something to change that? You wouldn’t change into someone you felt like you truly were? I challenge you to seriously put yourself in a transgendered person’s shoes and tell me that you wouldn’t challenge the binary system as well. And I’ll directly quote you, Matt, here:

Last question for the people — particularly straight men — who claim there is no real distinction between a “transgender” woman and a real woman: Would you marry a woman who used to be a man? Would you look at this “former” man and think, “I want to make him my wife?”

Answer: No. You wouldn’t. You won’t. And you know it. Instinctively, when it comes down to it, where your life and love are concerned, you recognize the difference between a biological woman in all her glory, and a castrated man in all his derangement. I’m spending thousands of words convincing you of something you know. And I know you know it. And everyone knows that everyone knows it. So why are we still having this conversation?”

I think you just gave me the answer I was looking for: all you care about is the binary, heteronormative society that you so neatly grew up in. Why only ask straight men how they feel about “transgender” and “real” women? Are they the only ones to be attracted to women? Are they the only ones to marry women? And honestly, maybe if you came out of your little tight box every now and then, you’d realize there are a lot more open minded people in the world that think the complete opposite of you. People are people and not everyone believes a transgendered person is less than that.

And last but not least, if you rally think this is really a publicity act, think again. No one would go through this amount of torture, pain, and risk losing friends and family just for attention. Bruce Jenner is now Caitlyn Jenner and we all need to accept it and move on. After all, you’re just giving her more publicity by making this into a political conversation.