Monday, June 1, 2015

Why the World Needs Caitlyn Jenner

Bruce Jenner is now Caitlyn Jenner. And she’s beautiful.

My, my. We’ve come a long way, baby, haven’t we?

Our favorite leaders, artists, writers, singers … what makes them special is their nonconformity, their breaking free of the pack, their innovation. The innovators are the ones moving the world forward. What is an innovator? An innovator is the pioneer who challenges and changes the norm.  

The people we revere in history were considered to be the rule-breakers.

Over the past thousands of years we have encountered many rule-breakers. These people – these innovators ... these teachers ... they make us think – by ourselves and for ourselves. People who’ve taught us about collective and personal freedom. Isn’t that why America was born? Didn’t our ancestors leave an oppressive atmosphere for the sake of freedom? What did we do with it? We united together to take away the freedoms of others.

What about those teachers? We revered them, then ridiculed them, and ultimately crucified them. Then later on we would look back and think, hmmm … he wasn’t so bad.

Too late.

How is it that we can blatantly applaud the innovators, the rule-breakers, the people who put their lives on the line to make our lives richer and ridicule others who are making different changes? This selectiveness, this hypocrisy needs to stop. Because that is what it is. Are people only allowed to be different only because they do or make something a collective group deems to be useful or beautiful? What about the person who is able to create a beautiful life for herself? Is she wrong because she does not share your personal definition of what is beautiful and worthy?

How the hell did any of us people who hate anchovies get past the serious fault of those who like them?

Any person, situation, thought or idea that challenges the boundaries of exclusivity, privilege and intolerance benefits every single one of us.

Caitlyn should be praised for having the courage to stand up for herself, to be herself, knowing full well the backlash she would be up against. How many of us would have the balls (yes, I said it) to stand up to global ridicule?

She is a wonderful teacher for our children. She is showing them that no matter how old you are, how you’ve lived your life, that it is possible to change, to be real and honest. Aren’t we teaching our children to be themselves? Be the best YOU you can be. Be yourself.

Or is that conditional?

Be you – unless you are different. If you are letting your children see your mockery of anyone who is not like you, what are you teaching them? How likely is it that they will find the courage to be who they are, if they are worried about the ridicule of others – even yours? Isn’t the ultimate goal of a parent to see their child happy? Or does that depend on them being and doing what you or anyone else thinks they should be and do?

It had to be Bruce Jenner. There is not one other single person in the world who has gained the respect and attention of the world enough that this would reach everyone. He was a man’s man, a superstar world athlete, handsome, father figure, and even reality show television star. He was also old enough that no one can accuse him of being a foolish child. No one hasn’t heard of him – and that means no one can continue to keep their head in the sand and pretend to be ignorant of the word transgender. The line has been crossed, the tipping point reached, the pressure relief valve activated. We are now officially part of a new reality.

Bruce, I’m sorry for what you’ve had to go through. Caitlyn, I’m sorry for what you will go through.

No one looks sideways when a woman votes or runs in the Boston Marathon. No one bats an eye walking into a classroom or getting onto a bus when they see varying degrees of skin color in the front seats. It wasn’t always that way – and many people fought it and died because of it, but it is normal for us now.  

It will still be a while before the LGBTQ community is no longer labelled as a separate, different sector of society. But we’ve hit another milestone, and it’s a big one. From today on, the word transgender is a part of world vocabulary. No one can deny its existence.

This means we are one giant step closer to a new normal. We still have a long way to go. One person’s sexual and gender orientation should never be the choice of or under the dictation of another person or group. There will still be fallout; people will still fight against this, and torment, torture and crucify those who are an active part of it.

And, maybe, some lives will be saved. Maybe another tormented soul will see the value in his or her own life, and stick around to make a positive difference in the world.

I’m going to die one day. So are the people who are actively against world peace, tolerance and love of thy neighbor. Even if they attempt to pass on their hate and segregation to their own children, it will be watered down and tempered by the fact that what was ‘different’ in their lifetime will be a known facet of the lives their children and grandchildren. It will not be different, which will make acceptance and tolerance easier.

I will leave you with three things to ponder:

1.     Bruce Jenner is now Caitlyn Jenner. How many of you lost your job or died because of it? Did it ruin your marriage? Are you gay now (if you weren’t before)?

2.     What if a transgender, gay, or any-sexual teenager decided not to commit suicide (despite all the bullying) and grew up to create the cure for cancer? Would you not allow your loved ones to use it because of where it came from?

3.     If your Creator decided not to smite him for what he has done, what business is it of yours to try and do so? Isn’t that usurping someone else’s authority?

I hope I’m alive to see the new normal, where there is more love and tolerance shown towards each other. Where people are validated because they exist in this wonderful, diverse fabric of life.

I do wonder about when that happens, though. What new line will we find to divide ourselves with then?

Caitlyn, you go girl!

N.B. This is my second commentary on a perspective of the transgender discussion (my first: An Abomination to God) and not the last (I'm marinating at least two more). We talk about 'sides to an argument' as if the subject were square and the perspectives are limited, but they are more like arcs in a circle: unlimited, connecting, overlapping and recycling. Who knows how much more I will feel like saying?