I came home Tuesday afternoon to my kids asking me if I’d heard about Caitlin.
“Caitlin who?” I asked them.
“Caitlin Jenner,” one son said.
“Caitlin… Caitlin Jenner… You mean Kaitlin Jenner? One of the Kardashians?” I asked.
I’ve only recently become interested in the Kardashians as Laundry Support Entertainment, so I have no opinion of them other than they are hugely successful at getting people to talk about them.
They’re not on the forefront of my consciousness. I know they aren’t thinking about me.
So it took a little bit, honestly, to figure it out.
“It’s all over the internet…” the other son said.
“I don’t think there is a Kaitlin… there’s only the two Jenner girls, the one with the fake lips and the one with the supermodel eyebrows…” I said, drifting off, slipping into old age.
“The sex change one… ” the first son said.
“AAAAOOOOOMAAAAIIIIGAAAAADDDD!!!” I shouted. “BRUCE?! You mean BRUCE JENNER???” It was clicking in now.
I raced to my phone.
Not to call Caitlin, nor anyone, but to go online.
“Yikes!” I honestly said, when I first saw the now-famous Vanity Fair cover photo; that was Bruce Jenner. “That’s insane. That’s a complete change… ” I didn’t have any expectation, frankly, but I didn’t think a Vanity Fair cover would be it; nor did I consider this new visage in, essentially, a merry widow.
Egads, I guess I did have an expectation.
Vanity Fair has always had amazing covers. Annie Leibowitz is … I don’t need to even say anything; she is synonymous with renown photographs, regardless of the subject. It seems rather fitting, now in retrospect, that Annie do the shoot and Vanity Fair host the unveiling. It’s very 21st Century.
I have no opinion on the situation, really, OTHER than to say that we have other things going on, too, in the world.
I’m not going to say this isn’t news, nor that it’s not historic, because it is. It’s huge, frankly.
Back to watching the Kardashians.
I watched, since Tuesday, the second part of the Kardashian/Jenner girls’ interviews / meetings with then-Bruce, about his situation, his decision to come out as a transgender male and his interest in surgery to become a woman.
The girls are all quite bright, despite what the media say about them. I don’t really think much about them other than to say that if you think poorly on them, it’s a waste of your energy. They ask intelligent questions, and have the same types of concerns any child or step-child of a person in Bruce Jenner’s situation would have.
Bruce Jenner is father to six of his own biological children and step-father to four? Kardashian kids. He was married to Kris Kardashian for almost 23 years. That’s a big, long time: My husband and I have been an item for almost 25 years and will be married for 21 years (woot!) in a couple weeks. So that’s a long time.
The youngest of the kids, the Jenner girls, were (in the televised interviews) pretty disturbed. I’m sure they put on their brave faces and kept it together, but they have a lot to process. Kris Kardashian, the ex-wife and mother to the youngest two, was the final person Bruce spoke to in the series of chats he had with everyone.
Their conversation, the one which was televised, was the most raw and real marriage conversation, without a lot of selfishness and digs and jabs, I’ve ever seen.
Yes, it’s a train wreck, all those people… they put themselves out there; they reap what they sew; they made their bed, they sleep in it; blah blah blah… it still doesn’t take away from the fact that in the universal scheme of things:
1) There are people hurting out there,
2) Fear and deceit destroy people.
The exchanges between Bruce and Kris were stunning and she was firm yet supple. A body language / eye roll expert would nail the contempt in Bruce for Kris’ questioning. He pouted, his voice went high and little, he avoided, he looked at the floor, he deflected. He did everything he could — fear driven (so don’t tell me I’m being bitchy, I know what fear does to people, I get it) — to avoid her reasonable, clear, insistent and detailed line of questioning. She was sincerely grieving.
These two had a marriage.
She married an Olympian. A freakin’ decathlete. Gold medalist. Cereal boxes an’ shit. They had kids together.
He was weak. He deceived her. I can’t help this opinion; it’s how I feel. He chose the easy route which was really the hard route. He didn’t want to disappoint her. He had to live up to a standard. He had to be something he’s not.
He said he was honest with her, that she knew he had a thing for women’s clothing. He said in other interviews that he knew since he was 10 that he was a woman trapped inside a man’s body. But she said she never knew it would come to this level; that “Bruce” would be gone.
It’s a clear case of sins of omission and not asking enough of the right questions. It’s also a matter of people simply not owning their truths.
And yet, he said “I’m not going anywhere…” and “I love you…” and “I’m still in here…” and I’m thinking, “Ok… but who the hell is that? You don’t really know yet do you, Caitlin? It’s all new territory. Because who you were to them is not who you are to yourself… How can it be?
There are MANY paths this can go; I’m not going to go on most of them.
All I know is that when we lie to ourselves, we lie to the world. We lash out. We act flip and glib and say things without thinking about them.
When an addict comes out of rehab, everything has to change. The lifestyle the addict experienced before, has to change. Bruce was sort of addicted to a lie. Shame kept the lie going.
All the while, he was afraid.
When we are afraid, we lash out. We are like wounded bears. We withhold. We go within. We build walls. We put on façades. We perform for others. We are unpredictable and moody and sensitive. We do what we can to keep going though. And so does everyone else.
Kendall Jenner, the oldest of the Kardashian / Jenner girls said in the interviews that she encountered him cross-dressed at 4am when she went downstairs to get a drink of water. She cried as she sympathetically recounted it (I’m paraphrasing), “If your only way to safely be the person you feel yourself to be is to do it at 4am when no one else is awake, and to be like that for almost 65 years… That’s so sad. That’s so awful…” She said she, too, snuck around the room to escape his discovery of her discovery.
The people whom it most affects, his kids, get it. The rest of the world should too.
There were lots of questions about the woman version of Bruce… will she still be interested in women? “YES!” He sort of said. Then recanted, but no one picked up on it… If so, does that make Caitin gay? He didn’t comment on that, “I’m not going to go into that…” Bruce said. The daughters praised him as the best dad…. “Will we still have a dad?” Kylie asked. “I’ll always be your father…” he said, his voice full of sportscaster confidence and certainty, but his face, had a sort of wince, because … well … it’s just going to be really different now.
The nice thing, for the Jenner girls, is that it’s out in the open and they don’t have to explain anything. Bruce took care of that with the VF cover. Caitlin can field those questions now, or the daughters can have them referred to Caitlin’s publicist. But it sure does create a new dynamic, doesn’t it?
So what this entire thing does, for me anyhow, is create a new level of awareness and a discussion about labels and brands and identification with standards and how we speak to and about each other. And the use of pronouns and gender possessive tense: “her purse” and “his jockstrap.” Maybe it’s “her jockstrap” now… . And “mother” and “father” and birth certificates… what I am feeling is that it’s none of my business. And while it’s none of my business, that makes sympathy hard.
I’m not trying to pick a fight; it’s in my nature to question things when they don’t make sense to me — but what is “sensical” to me? It’s all based on a set of standards which are based on expectations which are based on biases. And then there are people who really like their HIS or HER status. Bruce Jenner wanted the pronouns. He wanted the gender possessives: HER and SHE and … hmm… I guess that’s all there is to it. No… because there are transgendered people who don’t want any gender identifiers. I got hissed at about a year ago for saying “goodnight ladies!” to people when I wasn’t aware of the context for my invitation to lead a meditation for them. Can’t win for losing.
I was watching, remotely, with interest and anxiety, the media storm over this situation. Lots of people are pissed this is considered news. But it is news. It’s just not super depressing, racist, ISIS-related, political, FIFA, scandalous, nor horrifying. The best and most succinct approach to this news is:
“It’s really heartening to see that everyone is willing to not only accept Caitlyn Jenner as a woman, but to waste no time in treating her like a woman.” — Jon Stewart
Everyone talked about Caitlin’s appearance. Then her comparability to her ex-wife and Kim Kardashian. And then, her age. And then, what she looks like without the make-up. I’m floored and yet not.
There is no justice.
I heard someone say “I’m jealous of her legs! They’re awesome!” and I’m sitting there, SILENT, thinking, “that’s because they are the legs of a world-class decathlete you moron….” There is a part of me who doesn’t ever want to forget about Cereal Box Bruce, not because I’m a _____phobe (you pick the type), but because Bruce accomplished some seriously awesome feats and it was amazing. His decision to become Caitlin does not at all take away from 1976. Sorry. That doesn’t get wiped out. Nor do his kids, or his tax returns or his speeding tickets or his authenticity; well… I guess it takes away from his authenticity. That, he has to rebuild.
When we live without fear, we live fully.
In the final analysis, Caitlin’s not talking about me, so I’m going to stop talking about her.