I’m transgender and I believe in Caitlyn Jenner.
Let’s pause here; I’m waiting for Mary Shelley’s mob with torches and pitchforks. With a Home Depot within a quarter mile of nearly everyone, it’s much easier to acquire those types of things than it used to be.
Hmmm…perhaps Home Depot is closed. Or the mob couldn’t find someone to direct them to the farm implements. Either is possible.
I suppose it’s also possible not near as many transgender people as I suppose loathe any statement that supports Caitlyn Jenner. I find that highly unlikely, though; every time Caitlyn Jenner does anything, an enormous portion of the transgender community gets irate.
I get that, I do. Sometimes I shake my head (vigorously) at the things she says and does. But having now watched her be ambushed at the VMAs I feel like I say should say something.
I believe in Caitlyn Jenner, and I always have.
(Of course, even if I didn’t, I still wouldn’t think she deserves to be called a “f***ing fraud” at a public event. But maybe that’s just me.)
If it wasn’t for Caitlyn Jenner, I wouldn’t be here. Her coming out story inspired me to finally look at my own life and realize much of her path was my own. Would I have figured it out on my own, eventually? Perhaps. But I wouldn’t have figured out when I did, where I did – and those two facts alone have meant everything to me.
I may not owe Caitlyn Jenner my existence, but I at the very least owe her the existence that I have. That to me means something.
Caitlyn Jenner is more to me, however, than just a lighthouse from my past. She remains someone that I see all too often in myself: a human being, with all the imperfections that implies. Making mistakes, sometimes without even being aware of it. Though I – thank Gods – get to make mine in the privacy of my own life.
A few months ago I woke up, stared into my closet, and thought that once again the hardest part of my day was going to be figuring out what to wear. No one told me I was diminishing rape victims.
In my Political Economy class at the University of Oregon – where there’s a lot of Karl Marx – I wore a Ralph Lauren Polo sweater with the American flag on it. No one said I was no longer credible as a budding scholar.
At election time I had a lot of friends that voted for Donald Trump, and since the election I’ve made it very clear those people are still my friends. No one called me –
Well, you get the idea.
Is Caitlyn’s role different than mine because she’s famous? I suppose it is. But being famous doesn’t make you immune to screwing up. Though it does seem to make you immune to successful apologies.
When one of my transgender friends saw Caitlyn’s explanation about how she accidentally wore a “Make America Great Again” hat, they dismissed it out of hand: “No one just grabs a baseball hat and throws it on because they’re rushing out in their car.” Really? I had a convertible; I did it all the time.
If this sounds like I’m equivocating to you, I have to admit I’ve wondered that about myself, too. Let’s face it: Trump could not only shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose a supporting vote, Trump could shoot a supporter and not lose the victim’s vote. Is that what I’ve become when it comes to Caitlyn Jenner?
I don’t think so. Trump and his lap-dogs are actively destroying this country for anyone who’s not like them. Are Caitlyn Jenner and I doing that because we’ve had white privilege so long we’re not even conscious of it? No. And if you honestly believe Caitlyn Jenner is doing the same thing as Donald Trump’s Alt-Right nightmares because of a damn hat, then you should go stand with the people who want to make flag-burning a crime. They’re all hung up on symbols, too.
More, however, than people’s disproportionate reactions to Caitlyn’s sometimes questionable choices is still this one basic fact: I still believe she is a human being.
I am tired of hearing that she won’t do anything unless a camera is present, that if she was sincere, she’d get out of the limelight. First of all: the hell with that. Coming out is terrifying, and so is living transgender, I don’t care what demographic you’re in. She’s allowed to navigate her transgender life any way she pleases. Sure as hell no one gets to tell me how to do it, and I’ll grant her no less.
Here’s the funny thing, though: What if she did do something out of the limelight? What if she wanted to stop by a school just to say “Hi”? How would you know? What if she took her private time to mentor a young kid navigating what it means to be transgender? How would you know? What if she took time out of her day to call up a transgender father to talk about parenting? How would you know?
Do I know she does all these things? No – because if I did, we all would, and she’d get ripped a new one again for being a “media whore.” You can’t have it both ways, so I choose to believe she does things most people never know about. In fact I know she does, but that’s another story.
Let me make clear – again – that I don’t think she’s perfect. But if I am to be honest with myself as a person, and abide my soul as a journalist who strives for fairness, I must grant her the same things the universe has granted me. I have friends that voted against me in the election, but they are still my friends. I have friends that have no idea what it means to be me, and yet they remain the people I enjoy talking to most.
Is this a luxury of white upper-middle class privilege? I suppose it is. I acknowledge that maybe it’s only my privileged history which allows me to so actively brush off transgressions which in daily reality don’t touch me. To those who don’t share my worldview, I say: I hear you, I respect you. But I cannot be you, and I simply can’t go where your heart lies. I can acknowledge it and respect it – but in the end that’s all I can do.
The day I began living my life as who I was always meant to be meant the world finally saw me as I saw myself. And while I understand things I did not before, I am still the same person I was. To demand Caitlyn Jenner not be who she is, is not only impossible, it is unfair.
Being transgender is about finally discarding that which the world demands of you. Why trade one societal straightjacket for another? Is Caitlyn Jenner who I would choose to be? No, but she is who she has chosen to be, and she has every right to do so. She has a right to be a thinking, feeling, flawed, stepping in it, and stepping back out of it, person.
I believe that. If I am to maintain my own sense of humanity I must believe in hers – so I believe in Caitlyn Jenner.
See you at the Home Depot.