Thursday, June 4, 2015
Caitlyn Jenner! My Opinion!! Additional Exclamation Points!!!
Recently I have been asked by a number of people what I think about Caitlyn Jenner. My response is "I don’t know" and I’m not being flip. She is a new character in the zeitgeist and I'll reserve judgment about her life choices as I am trying to be supportive of the T in the LGBT continuum. But there are other choices with which I have concern. Throughout this whole transition, I think people are missing something extremely important; Caitlyn may have felt like a woman for many years but I can assure you she did not feel like a ‘Caitlyn’. Women from her era (she was born in 1949) were typically named Linda, Mary, Patricia, Barbara or Susan. In some parts of the country they may have been named Eunice, Ethel, Agnes and even Thelma Lou, if you lived in Mayberry. What they wouldn’t have been named is Caitlyn.
The moniker with which you are foisted upon the world has a lot to do with how the world responds to you. There have been many articles of late discussing those with more ‘American’ names receiving a more positive response on job applications and resumes. It is sad, but it is true. It is also a wake-up call for those parents who want to name their children something like McClavity, Apple or D’@ngel*que. At least Apple will have ‘Speed of Sound’ money to fall back on if she can’t get a job working for her mother at Goop, if this is in fact a real website and I haven’t mistaken one of The Onion’s satirical essays as a news report.
There has been much discussion of whether or not Caitlyn is brave and I agree being your authentic self is brave if indeed who you are is not the average person’s cup of tea. And you may disagree. But I don’t think anyone can argue it is an extreme act of bravery for a 65 year-old woman, who is not Helen Mirren, to appear on the cover of a national magazine in what can only be described as a lycra onesie. And let’s not forget about the hairstyle she chose. What’s brave is selecting a “reality-show-opening-credits-montage” hairstyle for your cover model debut. I can assure you the G in the LGBT acronym have been discussing this at length.
I suppose it is appropriate as she will now star in a reality show which is a spin-off of another reality show which is the spin-off of a sex tape which was (and let’s be honest) a spin-off of the OJ Simpson murder trial, and possibly “Moesha”, being that Ray J is Brandy’s brother. And we shouldn’t be surprised America has rallied around someone who is desperately clinging to the periphery of our attention span, which is exuberantly ill-informed, inconsistently forgiving and sticky with a mixture of melted Popsicle and nacho cheese.
Is it really brave to face the world from a position of wealth and material comfort? I wonder how brave Caitlyn would have been if she had to go to work at Carl’s Jr., or serve as the nursing supervisor at an assisted living facility or work in a bank? Is it brave when you are lauded for being you and awarded financially for your transition? Most trans people, from what I understand, just want to be themselves and blend into the vibrant fabric of this country. It doesn’t mean that we can’t applaud her for helping the national conversation about a topic both uncomfortable and timely.
I am not someone who is interested in knowing the ins-and-outs of Caitlyn’s life and I will certainly not watch her new show. I will also not remember her name is Caitlyn because she does not look like a Caitlyn. Maybe I would remember it if she changed her name to Marilyn or Olivia or Lauren or even Priscilla.
And that’s all I’m saying for now.