In 1976, I was 10 years old, and I was completely enamored with this Olympic champion named Bruce Jenner. My heart would flip and flop every time I saw his sexy, straight brown hair—a little long for my parents’ taste but perfect for my tween crush. In fact, I became a Wheaties addict, and still love them today with a spoonful of sugar and some 2 percent milk. If Bruce said he had to have his Wheaties to stay in shape, then what miracles could those tasty flakes do for me?
And, I was not alone. Many of my friends dreamed they would one day be Mrs. Jenner, and drone on and on about what their perfect married lives would be like with this studly athlete. This is what 10-year-olds did before Minecraft and Disney XD.
Fast forward almost 40 years. Bruce Jenner is still in the spotlight, and even more popular than ever, not for his gold medals or endorsements, but because he had the courage to start his life over in a way that made him feel more authentic than he had his entire life. Bruce shed his Bruce “skin” and emerged as Caitlyn Jenner—femme fatale and cover girl of Vanity Fair magazine.
According to news sources, Caitlyn’s big reveal today broke the Twitter record. People are genuinely interested to see what this now woman looks like and is like. Quite frankly, this is the best this person has looked in years. The transitioning Bruce just did not look right—too feminine to be a man, and too masculine to be a woman. Now that the transformation is virtually complete, I have to say she is quite striking. Caitlyn looks comfortable in her skin.
Of course, Caitlyn should look good because she has been studying some of the most exquisite experts in femininity since 1991. No brood of women is more adept at dressing to the nines like the Kardashian women. Every wardrobe choice, eyelash curled, lip-gloss plastered has been documented ad nausea on reality TV. Caitlyn’s entire marriage was a case study on how to be a voluptuous woman in the public eye. That is one reason her transition has appeared seamless.
In seriousness, I applaud Caitlyn. It is never easy to be completely one’s self. An identity crisis is no laughing matter. Everyone has had a moment or two asking “Who am I,” yet most people just want to know their likes and dislikes, their career choices, their conceptions of faith and family. Most of us are lucky in that we do not have to ask, “Who am I?” only to discover that we are the wrong gender—a gender that never felt “right.” Most of us do not have to worry that; in in answering this question honestly, we may lose the love and respect of people that mean everything to us.
Bruce/Caitlyn led such a public life before the transition that she had no choice but to go public with this process. Making such drastic changes in the face of public and private rejection takes an extraordinary amount of courage. And, yes, there are plenty of people who “don’t get it” and who find this whole phenomena “weird” or “not natural,” but there are also a lot of people applauding Caitlyn for this courage and authenticity. She should be applauded for bringing to light complexity of gender identity. I know it has made me a more understanding person, and my wish is that it makes everyone a little more empathetic.