I have wanted to write my thoughts on this for a long time. When Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner announced that he/she was a woman and always identified as a woman I was stunned, as I am sure most people were. I had heard the rumors, saw the tabloid headlines and did not believe it. Then she came out and said it herself and I wanted to know more. I became obsessed with reading the articles about her, faithfully stalked the stores trying to find the June Vanity Fair issue when it came out (no one had it!!) and read stuff online. Of course I watched the interview with Diane Sawyer. My fascination with the whole thing ran very deep. And I would like to share my thoughts here.
I have greatly admired Bruce Jenner since I was a kid. I am not sure when I first heard about him or became aware of him. I think it may have been when I was in the G.A.T.E. (Gifted and Talented Education) in 3rd grade and we studied the Olympics (they were coming to Los Angeles the following summer). I remember seeing him on Silver Spoons and that is where he talked about having dyslexia. I admired him for overcoming that obstacle in his life and becoming an Olympic Gold Medalist. I also thought he was a pretty good looking guy so for all my life I admired him. Probably more than any other athlete. he was a role model to me for overcoming obstacles and achieving your dreams.
When I started watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians I didn't realize he was the dad. I thought "that guy looks like Bruce Jenner!" I finally realized it was actually him during the first episode I watched. I enjoyed watching him on that show. he seemed so normal compared to the rest of them. So laid back and not wanting to be caught up in all the drama. I liked that he liked flying his remote control airplanes and playing golf and riding a motorcycle (although that may have only been one episode). I wished they would just leave him alone and let him do his thing. I loved that you could tell how much he loved his family and wanted what was best for them and seemed genuinely hurt and concerned when they did questionable and down right stupid things. I thought the love he showed and time he spent with his 2 youngest daughters was so wonderful. he treated the Kardashian kids as if they were his own. He was truly a loving dad to them. I was not aware that he was not a good of a dad to his other children, although now the reason for that has come to light and they have forgiven him. Everyone makes mistakes and the fact that he has owned up to them is admirable.
I liked Bruce's ponytail and never thought that he was growing his hair long to feel more like a woman. I thought the tabloids were all crazy and spiteful. I could not believe that this man wanted to be a woman. Through the show and the media he gave no indication of that to me. Of course, looking back, there were some very minor signs.
As soon as I heard the news that Jenner had announced himself as a woman (and a Christian Republican!) I knew I had to see the interview. Not having cable I found it on Hulu. I watched, stunned. I was stunned that he really wanted to be a woman and even more stunned that he had felt like that his whole life. I could just not wrap my head around it. he was still Bruce Jenner to me, but with long hair. His face and voice was the same at that time (and he did not have boobs!). When the Vanity Fair shoot and article were announced I knew that I had to see it. I had to learn more.
I had a hard time finding that magazine!! The day it came out I looked 3 places ... Dillons, Walmart and CVS. None of them had it (Walmart had the may issue, the other 2 did not have any). I called Hastings in Manhattan which has ALL the magazines and they did not have it. It had not been delivered yet!! I ended up getting it at HyVee a few days later.
The pictures were gorgeous. I know they were airbrushed and photoshopped and stylized, but for a sixty year old woman Caitlyn Jenner looked great. A bit like Janice Dickinson, though, of whom I am not a fan. I read her story with fascination, surprised again by the strained relationship she had had with her kids from her first two marriages and just stunned that she had confessed her yearnings to be a woman to both of her ex wives. I was also surprised to learn she started hormone therapy earlier in her life before marrying Kris Jenner. I was stunned to learn also that Bruce's drive to win the Olympic Gold Medal in the Decathlon was greatly motivated by his desire to prove his masculinity and suppress his feminine feelings. I also learned that the Decathlon is the hardest most grueling of all Olympic events and those that win the gold are considered the best athletes in the world. My admiration was kindled all over again.
The article finally helped me to accept that Bruce Jenner was now a woman named Caitlyn (one of my favorite names, by the way). Like I said, I had a really hard time wrapping my mind around that. Like most people, I had this image of a macho athlete in my mind, a strong patriarch of his family and a regular guy with regular guy hobbies (airplanes, golf, etc). I could finally see her as a woman. However, that was in print.
I still have trouble when I see her on TV. Her voice has not changed, yet, so I hear Bruce. I see him in a woman's body. His humor is still the same, as well. Another thing I admired about him and now her. When she joked about her first thought being "what am i going to wear" when told she would be receiving the Courage Award at the Espy's I knew that she was definitely the same person as Bruce!
I still have a great desire to learn more about Caitlyn and get to know her. So why the fascination? I think it has to do with her vulnerability. I saw that same vulnerability in Bruce. I feel like that is something I can identify with about her. I think most people can. It upsets me when people say things like her becoming a woman was a publicity stunt or a science experiment. Having watched Bruce on Keeping up With the Kardashians I feel in a way I know him and I know this decision was not made lightly. I know it was agonizing and hard. He is a very famous public figure. He knew the criticism and backlash he would receive in doing this, but he did it anyway because he felt it was what he needed to do to be happy and find peace. I do not know what it is like to live with body dysphoria ad cannot imagine all the pain and confusion he has gone through in his life. As he has said, it had affected his relationships with his children negatively and I think he truly regrets that.
I think that also being sixty years old adds a lot of weight to his decision to become a woman. It is different when you are young and still finding yourself, I imagine, but at sixty you have lived most of your life and people know you as that person you have been. Especially being a public figure. I admire Caitlyn for her courage (yes, courage) to make the decision to become a woman and live as she has always wanted, before it was too late. I want to see her through this journey, to have a better understanding of her and to come to admire her as much as I admired Bruce.
I am a Mormon Christian and I believe that our genders are pre-destined by Heavenly Father. I do not agree with the practice of becoming transgender, but I respect it. In regards to Caitlyn Jenner, I want to understand it. I respect her choice and understand that this is what she needed to do to be happy and at peace. How can I not respect that? We all have free agency so I will not criticize or condemn. I really feel that there is more I need to learn through Caitlyn. I fully support even though I do not personally know her. Like I said before, I think there is a great vulnerability in her that I can identify with. I look forward to continuing getting to know her and hopefully I can share some more thoughts in the future.