I seem to be getting asked my opinion about Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair debut quite a lot right now. Rather than repeat myself all over social media, I thought it might make sense to write something about it here.
Firstly, this is complicated. Gender is complicated. I barely understand my own, so I definitely don’t understand anyone else’s. People seem to be looking for an explanation, nevertheless, so I’ll do my best.
OK, so where do we start? The first thing to understand is that Caitlyn most likely identified as female way back, certainly for years, probably right back to childhood. She was an Olympic athlete – this is something that I saw the edges of, back in my late teens when I was involved in yacht racing. The level of singular purpose, focus and dedication that getting to the Olympics requires is quite beyond anything 99.999% of us will ever see. You can take it from this that she has, at least the capability of, a singularity of purpose and drive to succeed that most of us have no concept of.
She’s not dumb. That much seems clear. Few people involved in sport at that level are, from personal experience. A decision to transition would not have been easy – it never is – but doing so when you’re already very much in the public eye is pretty much unprecedented. The closest previous case might be Lana Wachovski, but in her case she was not anything like as in the public eye as Caitlyn.
Transitioning is by nature a slow and difficult process. Having access to the money for surgery, particularly facial feminization surgery, makes a huge difference to both the timeline and ultimate outcome, but still, it’s not an instantaneous thing. Yet, the media was carefully managed to report this as a BOOM! MIKE DROP! event. Caitlyn has basically gone at transitioning like someone wanting to win an Olympic gold, and given the photos, seriously nailed it. It’s like she chose femininity as a metric and decided to max it out, to the extent that maybe 0.01% of cisgender women could even get close.
I don’t know if any of this is a good or bad thing for transgender people. Only time will tell. For sure, it’s got people talking to an extent that has barely happened previously, with the exception only possibly of Laverne Cox’s Time Magazine interview. None of this would have been imaginable 20 odd years ago when I transitioned. Not 10 years ago, or even for that matter 5 years ago. The mainstream media are being positive about transgender issues. The orthodoxy has flipped. Transphobia is now being clearly called out as hate – everyone who has posted transphobic opinion about Caitlyn’s coming out seem to be being eviscerated by public opinion. It seems that wrong-gendering or deadnaming Caitlyn is a one-way ticket to douchenozzleville, population you. Fox News is having a predictable shit fit, but just seems to be digging itself deep.
My gut tells me this is probably all for the good.
Only time will tell.
Please note: this was cross-posted from my main blog at http://www.mageofmachines.com/main/