I'm up. Obviously.
The upside of having a kid in this crazy demanding stage of life is that I am up way before the rest of the people in the house and can actually write. Which is good, especially today, because I have a lot to say this morning.
I scrapped the rest of the list of things I was going to write about today as soon as the Vanity Fair cover came out with Caitlyn Jenner...just because I knew how it was going to go down.
For those people who seem incapable of understanding that this transition doesn't affect their lives and that they don't get to tell Caitlyn anything about how to live her life, a quick list of things you should know.
- Her name is Caitlyn now. Use female pronouns. You don't just get to keep calling her Bruce or insist that she's still a man because that fits into your personal definition. Not your decision, not your name, not your life. You don't get to vote on this stuff.
- Who gives a rat's ass if the picture is photoshopped? I basically work on the assumption that a cover photo is shopped these days, and if we routinely expect pictures of cisgendered women to be shopped than we can't condemn a photo of a transgender woman just because of some editing.
- It really doesn't matter if you don't understand trans people. If you aren't living it, your understanding isn't required. Compassion would be great, though.
- Don't assume that Caitlyn is a lesbian now, or make any assumptions about her sexual orientation for that matter. Gender identity and sexual orientation are two different things.
- The physical aspect is only one piece of a transition, many would say it isn't even close to the top of the list of the most important aspects. While everyone from the outside seems fixated on genitals, that really isn't what transition is about at all.
- If and when she shares why she chose her name and why she spelled it the way she did, then you'll know. Until that happens, stop assuming. You know that when you assume, you make an "ass" out of "u" and "me", right? (fistbump to my father for that nugget of wisdom he played on repeat when I was a teenager)
- She isn't doing this to make a point. She's doing this because she's always felt like she was a woman and was born in the wrong body. Doesn't make sense to you? Probably because you happen to have been born into the correct body.
- She's doing this publicly because of pre-existing fame. It would be impossible to transition secretly in the eyes of the press. In fact, having such a public persona in all likelihood makes the choice to transition even harder because of the incredible scrutiny.
- Due to that pre-existing fame, Caitlyn has a unique opportunity here to reach a huge group of people.
- It's none of your business what stage of physical transition she is in. It's none of your business if she plans to complete the physical transition or not. The details of the physical elements of her body aren't any of your business. Seriously, don't ask.
- If you'd require a vagina for someone to be considered a woman, then I guess you'd be okay with having to demonstrate your gender to the world in order for people to treat you like a man or woman. I mean...that would necessarily mean that everyone in the world would have to walk around with their genitals out, but if that's what you'd require of a transexual person then you can't get offended if someone demands it of you. Seriously, think about how ridiculous that is...
- If you think a transgender person in a bathroom is a threat to you or to your children, then I wonder what you think ordinarily happens in a bathroom. I don't know about you guys, but I'm usually just going to the bathroom.
What Caitlyn is doing is hugely important from a historical standpoint. There are but a handful of people in the public spotlight who've undergone transition openly like this. I can only hope that someday it won't be groundbreaking anymore, that someday people can quietly undergo the life transitions necessary to live genuinely, that they can have the full support and love of the other people in their lives.
As brave as Caitlyn is, we should also be sure to remember here that she doesn't represent the majority of the trans community. She has ample financial resources to pay for the best surgeons, for the best therapists, for personal stylists, for all of it. Most people don't have those luxuries. Many people who would elect physical transition might never be able to afford the procedures.
The transgender community is still quite marginalized in our society, though the acts of brave individuals like Caitlyn and Laverne Cox will go a long way towards change.
Don't judge a situation you don't understand. Show compassion.
As I said on my Facebook page yesterday,
If you woke up this morning judging others, comfortable in the body you inhabited at birth and attracted to a member of the opposite sex, take a minute and thank your god or lucky stars or the random odds of genetics or whoever you thank for that stuff since clearly you think you're doing it right at the same time you believe that all this stuff is somehow a "choice".
(Spoiler alert! It's not a choice.)
Then think about the fact that not everyone woke up that way this morning and they have to deal with opinions every damn day from all the people who don't get it and don't even try to get it.