I’ll preface this with a few things because it inevitably is questioned when I write something like this. I’m a straight white male, so I have little invested in this story on an emotional level, but I care about our society, and our level of tolerance.
No history lesson on Bruce Jenner is needed, because nearly everyone knows of him, and a lot of us realize he was once hailed as World’s Greatest Athlete after winning the 1976 Olympic Decathlon. Unfortunately, he’s better remembered for being the marginalized Stepfather of the Kardashian’s. That whole situation was painful for anyone to watch if you had any inkling of what a media force he was in the country following his Olympic triumph.
I confess to not really paying attention to the series, but one couldn’t help but notice how Jenner was trivialized by the family and the media. At least it seemed that way. He was an outlier in that family. Bruce Jenner was famous for his genuine accomplishments. He wasn’t famous for being famous. Or infamous in the case of the Kardashian’s.
For several years, Bruce was hounded by rumor, and innuendo about his looks and various personal details, and it all finally culminated with his admission he was transitioning to a woman. How anyone could manage to live through the sleazy, and smarmy world of the Kardashian’s and emerge with head held high, is a marvel. How Jenner managed to come through it and emerge as Caitlyn, is nothing short of remarkable.
The cynics among us will say it’s all hype. Done strictly to promote another upcoming reality show. Possibly. But why would Caitlyn Jenner put herself through a wringer when she doesn’t have to do it? Say what you want about Jenner’s trifles with the Kardashian’s, but admire the guts and gumption it takes to sever the ties that bind to her old life.
Multiple critics are up in arms about Caitlyn Jenner. doing this in such a public way, but flip the script if you can. Had this entire sequence of events occurred in private after riding the Kardashian Hype Machine for nearly a decade, critics would have screamed how hypocritical and cowardly it was to retreat into privacy. Caitlyn Jenner had a choice of how to be criticized. If she transitioned in private, she faced the aforementioned slings and arrows. Doing this in such a public way at the very least, conforms to living a public life, and at the most, encourages serious discussion and examination of what she’s doing. If even one person is able to learn from this situation, then I suspect Jenner will say it was worth it.
People will judge, because that’s what people do. I love our country, but frankly Americans are some of the most judgmental people on earth. For all of our freedoms, and there are many, the most precious isn’t religion, or speech. It’s the freedom to be what, and who you want to be. Frankly I think Caitlyn Jenner has earned the right to be anyone, or anything she wants. Bruce Jenner was an icon, and people forget how the Gold Medal performance helped to heal some wounds our country was suffering after a lousy half-decade, with a lousy economy, and Watergate.
It’s the same person, with a different look, and aesthetic. It’s Caitlyn Jenner. She’s earned the right to be what, and who she wants to be..