So I am a little bit of a left of center guy, particularly on social issues. Live and let live strikes me as a pretty good organizing principle for society. And the fact that I have a hard time wrapping my mind around gender confusion tells me all I want to know about the hell someone must go through if he or she suffers from that condition. In that context, I was as surprised as anyone that someone who was once “the world’s greatest athlete” would need to transition to a woman, but I harbored him no ill will. As I said, live and let live.
Which is all fine in the abstract. Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair cover, however, is not so abstract. When the reality of transgender life smacks even a left of center, 54 year-old male in the face, it can be pretty jolting. Remember, and with apologies to Elton John, “We are tough and we are Texan, with necks good and red.“
As far as I know, Caitlyn Jenner paid for her counseling and any medical procedures by herself or through her insurance. She has not asked for the state to sanction a marriage to anyone. There is no reason to think she is any more of a risk to children than I am. Still and to be completely honest here–I just wish I did not have to see that cover.
It is as simple as head versus heart. My head tells me the “home of the free” has to mean Caitlyn is free to be whomever she wants to be. That “freedom of expression” includes Vanity Fair magazine covers featuring Olympians turned reality stars turned [insert your own description here]. My heart remains wed to the one man, one woman, 2.3 kids and a dog concept that I was reasonably confident made most people happy or within shouting distance of it. For those of you who tilt heavily to either heart or head maybe the dissonance is not so great. Me, I am bamboozled.
Like most things, the passage of time will probably let us work even this strangeness out. Until then I ask only that those who see Caitlyn Jenner as a role model to be celebrated be comfortable with my discomfort. And that those who are sure Caitlyn Jenner should be shunned and mocked feel the slightest bit of discomfort about their certainty.