Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Welcome to the 'sisterhood' Caitlyn Jenner

Bruce Jenner is gone and we are happy to welcome Caitlyn Jenner to the ‘sisterhood.’

I was thrilled and proud to see her glowing face and gorgeous female curves on the July cover of Vanity Fair and to read about her struggle for freedom.

As she so articulately shared, “This shoot was about my life and who I am as a person.  It’s not about the fanfare, it’s not about people cheering from the stadium, it’s not about going down the street and everybody giving you, ‘that a boy Bruce,’ pat on the back, O.K. This is about your life.”

I get it.  Caitlyn is now 65, and still has a few good years to live her life, a genuine life, the way she had always hoped.  She doesn’t have to lie, feel uncomfortable in her body anymore, and is free to express herself as the gender she most closely identifies with.

Many people take this for granted in their everyday life.  Those who feel comfortable in their gender rarely think twice about looking at themselves in a mirror, or having to put on clothes that may as well be a clown suit.

The day after Caitlyn’s cover shoot was announced, I was shocked to read some of the social media messages about her new-found freedom to live her life as she chooses.
Although I expected to see some of this backlash on general media posts, these were some of the people who I used to consider friends.

One former work colleague messaged on Facebook, “OMG people, stop posting the creepy Jenner pic. Aghhhh! “

It felt like a punch to the stomach that people, who I considered intelligent and understanding about my transition from female to male, would feel this way about Bruce becoming Caitlyn.

Perhaps they see her in a different light, and are swayed by her celebrity.  There hasn’t been much sensitivity from the public or media for the circus they call “the Kardashians.”  And, Bruce is still part of that kooky family.  But I expected more compassion about Bruce’s journey. 

He explained during his interview with Diane Sawyer, April 24th, “I just can’t pull the curtain any longer,” Jenner said. “I’ve built a nice little life, I just can’t—again, Bruce lives a lie. She is not a lie. I just can’t do it anymore.”

Throughout my own transition, I have struggled with body dysphoria and have been pulled into prolonged periods of depression where I can’t get out of bed.  It’s painful and debilitating. 

I think many people are missing the point.  Caitlyn Jenner is not coming out as a trans woman for publicity; she is doing it because she has no choice.  While she revealed to the author of the Vanity Fair article, Buzz Bissinger that following some recent facial feminization she suffered a panic attack, questioning later what she had done, she had this to say: “If I was lying on my deathbed and I had kept this secret and never did anything about it, I would be lying there saying, ‘You just blew your entire life.  You never dealt with yourself,’ and I don’t want that to happen.”

I believe Caitlyn has a rich opportunity here to turn peoples’ lives around by maybe changing their perspectives, but more importantly, addressing young people who are questioning their own gender and struggling to conform. 

Jenner told Vanity Fair in the July issue.  “The uncomfortableness of being me never leaves all day long.  I’m not doing this to be interesting.  I’m doing this to live.”

One social media poster surmised on the online version of the article, if only Leelah Alcorn had been alive to see Caitlyn Jenner on the magazine cover.  Leelah was a 17 year old U-S teen who killed herself by walking into traffic and being stuck by a tractor-trailer on an Ohio highway a few miles from her family home.  Alcorn struggled with her gender identity and could not convince her religious parents to enable her to transition.  She saw no alternative and died December 28, 2014.

Maybe Leelah Alcorn would be alive today if there were more people like Caitlyn Jenner who were able to come forward with their stories and life experiences.

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