In Which Jenner Changes Sex And I Have An Epiphany
People started experiencing Jenner Fatigue about 4 minutes after Vanity Fair announced the cover announcing the new and photoshopped Caitlyn Jenner. Surprisingly, the reactions run from highly positive to highly negative with the bulk somewhere in between. Kudos to Vanity Fair for referring to Jenner as a former Olympian rather than a “reality TV star.” I honestly didn’t even know he participated in the whole Kardashian experiment in fuckwittery. (Note: I find it sad that “Kardashian” shows up in my spell check dictionary and “fuckwittery” does not.)
Without cataloging all the reactions, the one that interests me the most is the “that’s the wrong person to advanced LGBT awareness” argument. In what way? I’m not sure. I had a Facebook discussion with someone who, responding to the refutation of the “Jenner’s not brave – soldiers are brave” argument, went on to explain she was tired of Jenner and everyone else should be, too. Having an average person changing sexes would mean much more than a celebrity. Long story short
There are plenty of transgender people who could be better suited for a docuseries. People that actually have a lot of obstacles to overcome.
…and a light clicked on.
My own paraphrase of this statement goes
It’s not enough to work through the issues, pain and trials of switching genders. To keep my interest, you must have even more shit to overcome or you bore me.
I couldn’t get into the show Transparent. As much as I wanted to watch it, I found most of the characters annoyingly self-absorbed and writing a little too precious. Jeffery Tambor, though, shocked me with the journey to coming out. The pain and doubt pervade his entire being. As a straight, white male, I can’t begin to fathom internal conflicts of effectively lying to people for decades about who you are and then the backlash (and freedom) of taking the plunge into living your authentic self. Annual income and public profile play no role in making that easier. That just seems logical.
But it’s not. According to this person, you have to have additional problems to overcome. I’m not clear what those would be nor did I ask. I’m guessing that a black, quadriplegic heroin addict might garner her sympathy. Maybe. That might still not be enough.
To quote her again:
It’s easier to relate to an average Joe than to a celebrity.
Maybe if one on one, but on a national stage, no one gives a shit about Average Joe…unless Not So Average Joe hires Average Joe a publicist and turns him into a media star. And then, obviously, Average Joe is no longer average. And, according to my discussion partner, no one can relate to him anymore.
What she appeared advocate was giving someone already encased in concrete a backpack full of barbells, ankle weights and an i386 computer and telling them to start their journey. Then she would pay attention to them and call them brave. Until then, they’re just wasting her time and blemishing her page full of kitteh pics.
The epiphany comes in realizing that rarely do we (and I include myself) look at situations universally. A grieving parent is a grieving parent. A transgender person coming out is a transgender person coming out. They’re all taking the same base journey. Instead, we look at them with a built in bias based on the person in the situation. Thus, Natallee Holloway makes headlines (“it must be so hard for that white woman to lose her child!”) while thousands of minority mothers suffer silently far from the news cycle.
I don’t pretend it can or will change. Bias is part of what makes us human. It’s good to acknowledge that sometimes.