And Now Caitlyn
I had hoped I would not feel the need to write about Caitlyn Jenner, but I probably should have known I could not remain silent. I am a public figure. Caitlyn is a very public figure. People have opinions.
Being transgender is no day at the park. We have known we were this way since childhood, and we have also known most of the world would freak out if we told them about our innermost struggle. I know you feel it is just too weird to see the same person who was on a Wheaties box now on the cover of Vanity Fair. Fair enough, it is weird for me too, and for every other transgender person I know. It has always been weird – a difficult thing to have to accept about our selves. We hated being this way and fought it with everything in us, until we could fight it no more.
I know you get tired of hearing about the 41 percent suicide attempt rate among those who are transgender. I’ve already written about the preacher who suggested it was a passive-aggressive way to get people to stop challenging us, an interesting way to both acknowledge and dismiss it in a single breath. But the truth is no other DSM diagnosis carries one-fifth the suicide risk. I would not wish this on anyone, not even my worst enemy. It is like having a bad relative who comes to stay and never leaves – and the person is living inside your own skin.
Long before the world got angry because Bruce chose the name Caitlyn, and long before Vanity Fair chose to promote its stereotype of women by dressing her in corsets and loungewear, Caitlyn Jenner was suffering. I don’t care what you think of her style, personality or taste, but I do want you to care about her humanity. One of the pastor’s at Caitlyn’s church wrote a blog post about her compassion, kindness and faith. It would be marvelous if the world would treat her with similar sensitivity.
Last week was tough. Hate mail returned. Former friends and family posted inflammatory and inaccurate information, especially Paul McHugh’s perspective on gender dysphoria. (Leave it to the Fundamentalists to find the one psychiatrist in America who has published a negative perspective on this subject, while ignoring the conclusions of every major medical society in the developed world.) In all these postings was there a single person who said, “My, how Caitlyn must have suffered?” Unfortunately, I could not find a single one.
Being trans has always been hard and always will be hard. Not exactly male and not exactly female, I struggle to find my way in a harsh world made more so by confident pundits shouting their bad advice. This is already a dark ride. To those screaming and yelling, incensed by Caitlyn’s coming out, you are not shining any light in the darkness. You are just reinforcing the world’s opinion that Christians are some of the most judgmental people on God’s green earth.
On the other hand, to those of you who in the name of Jesus, come to the subject with open hearts and minds and a willingness to study diligently to better understand our suffering, I will always be grateful. I do believe you have saved my faith.
And so it goes.