Yes, Bruce/Caitlyn May Be Brave, But Heroic?
The following article is written strictly as a personal opinion piece, and the opinions contained within, in no way reflect the opinions of Townsquare Media, its advertisers or its employees.
Let me begin this piece by stating that I unequivocally support Bruce Jenner finding happiness in any way, shape, form or gender that Jenner chooses. Life is too short and an unhappy life, even more so. I applaud the decision to come forward and discuss this life and how it will be lived. I hope that Jenner's transformation to Caitlyn will help those that have the same choice to make in their lives, make it with more confidence. I hope that this decision will help those that look at this in a negative fashion, to rethink how they think.
What bothers me is not the change that Jenner is undergoing. What bothers me is the change that is miraculously going on in the media, who are rushing to jump on Jenner's bandwagon. What bothers me is the public way the whole transformation is going on, when many fight this battle their entire lives in private, unseen. What bothers me is that Bruce/Caitlyn has suddenly and immediately been put up on a pedestal as the proud poster child for the transgender community. I think that Jenner could someday serve as an "ambassador" for the TG community, but I am having concerns that are three-fold.
My first concern is that this is all being done TOO publicly. Its being played out over not one, but TWO televisions shows. Not only is it being played out on his family's program, Keeping Up With The Kardasheans, but it will also be documented on a new reality program, I Am Cait, which will also air on the E! Entertainment Network. While I am not calling it one, this has a very distinct smell and feel of a promotional stunt. This public display could effect those in the TG community VERY negatively. I applaud Jenner for undergoing the reassignment surgery, if this is truly what was wanted. But the transition is made easier by the money that is behind Jenner. Most of those in the transgender community will NEVER have that kind of money to make such a smooth transition. They don't have a million dollar family or a network with two programs relying on the outcome of this. Their transition will be painful and without the support that Jenner has received.
My second concern is just that. Many feel that Jenner's transition will make it now much easier for a younger TG generation to live their life as they feel comfortable. I honestly believe it will have an opposite effect. It took over $100,000 worth of plastic surgery to make Bruce Jenner into Caitlyn Jenner. It was a very successful surgery. With the combination of surgery and some very good photographers at Vanity Fair, who I am sure have access to, and used, some of the best editing software available, many compared Caitlyn to Cyndi Crawford. Jenner made a very believable transformation that most people, mostly for financial reasons, would not have access to. It would be like telling a poor or middle class kid who struggles in school, that they should be encouraged by the rich kid who, through the help of tutors, graduated from college and led a successful life. It also didn't hurt that the rich kid's parents were contributors to the university. For the rich, the road to happiness is a lot smoother.
The third aspect that bothers me is the immediate rush to acceptance by the media. On Monday, ESPN announced that it would honor Jenner at the 2015 ESPYs with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. That July ceremony is set to be the stage for Jenner’s first major public appearance as Caitlyn. But, a controversy has erupted on social media about whether Jenner should be getting the award, at least as compared to other possible candidates that some deem more worthy. ESPN has denied others were considered, but in the rush to judgement, did the network overlook others who might be more worthy of the honor.
Once such candidate is Noah Galloway, who lost most of his left arm and leg to a roadside bomb in Iraq, and who now competes in Crossfit events, runs marathons and completed the 58-hour Death Race. Galloway has become a personal trainer, motivational speaker and, recently, a third-place finisher on “Dancing With the Stars.”
Another possibility is Lauren Hill, a freshman basketball player for Division III Mt. Saint Josephs, who scored the first two points of the 2014-2015 NCAA Basketball season. Hill, who suffered from brain cancer, had just one dream: to play in an NCAA game. Mt. St. Josephs moved up their opening game last season against Hiram College to November 2 in the hopes that Hill would be able to play. She was, and scored the first basket of the NCAA season 17 seconds into the game on a lay-up.
The rush to approval by ESPN, seems to be a further publicity grab for not only Jenner, but for the sports network itself. While it has taken courage for Bruce to become Caitlyn, the fight for Jenner is just beginning. Arthur Ashe was a proud man who conducted his fight against the HIV and AIDS viruses with style and dignity, leading many to fight for rights, research and hopefully, someday a cure. And while I am not saying that Jenner will not someday become the leader in the TG community that many believe, we need to step back to see what Caitlyn will become, and not just what Bruce became with the help of surgeons knives.