Last night I went to hear Caitlyn Jenner discuss her new book ‘The Secrets Of My Life‘ which has received a great deal of media coverage in recent weeks. Not only do we know that it confirms Caitlyn’s complete sex transition but also Keeping Up With The Kardashians has made the world largely aware that Kris is not happy with her representation within it, maintaining the book is all “made up.”
Now, I haven’t read more than about 7 pages so far (seeing as I only received my copy last night) BUT after listening to Jenner speak for an hour about her personal journey and the transgender community in general, I felt myself significantly moved and fuelled with a newly lit passion for this specific issue.
She initially asked the women in the audience one simple question:
“When did you know you were a girl?”
There was a simultaneous murmur of “ummm” in the auditorium and Caitlyn smiled as she explained how, unlike the majority of the crowd she was addressing, transgender people are plagued with not being able to identify their mind with their body.
Feminist and gay rights movements continue to battle every single day against prejudice and inequality, yet they have also made incredible progress over the past decades. Caitlyn said that this was her aim for the transgender community, to bring it “into the sunlight, instead of being in the shadows,” to make it respected and most of all accepted as a choice people are free to make and not be punished or ridiculed for.
So you may wonder, why then has it taken her 65 years to finally become who she truly felt she was within this whole time? Well, when asked by her interviewer, American author Jennifer Finney Boylan, Caitlyn explained how she “had a lot of living to do” and throughout her Olympic success and raising a family, her life as Bruce was filled with “distractions.” It was interesting that she added –
“I wouldn’t have done anything differently”
Sure, she admits to making her mistakes, such as when Jenner declared to Vanity Fair that she “didn’t want to look like a guy in a dress,” offending thousands within the transgender community. Yet, UNLIKE the many tabloids that pounce on countless celebrities when they say something that could be taken the wrong way, she admitted to being in the wrong. I suppose Caitlyn was at the very beginning of her journey at that point and has since, learnt a lot about the new community she has become a part of.
Whatever your thoughts on Caitlyn Jenner, her transition has brought transgender issues into the media, risen awareness within the public and been a major catalyst in extinguishing fires of ignorance and prejudice.
Sadly, ignorance can lead to hatred which suppresses and cages anyone who is different from the specified “norm” within society. What struck me most vehemently was when Caitlyn extended the entire issue, universalising transgender rights to make the whole concept of IDENTITY relevant to all humanity – because isn’t it? Everybody has their own “stuff” (as Jenner put it) going on inside regarding identity, whether it’s growing up and trying to find who you are, fitting into social groups, sexual orientation, family issues….
Jennifer Finney Boylan then pointed out she had learned the old hand position in sign language for ‘transgender’ which was a claw shape towards the mouth, as oppose to the word ‘sex’ which was the same shape, the opposite way round. This suggests that the ‘sex’ of a transgender person is the wrong way round……The new representation is entirely different. Boylan showed the audience and explained it as a flower blooming and opening from the heart.
Whatever your religious, political or general views on the matter of the transgender community —- a flower should NEVER be denied sunlight and left to wither and die, how then could we appreciate the diversity of colourful blossoms the world has to offer?
I look forward to reading Caitlyn’s book and learning more about this issue.