Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Trans-what the what, now?

I don't know why the concept of people being transgender is so hard to grasp. Although, homosexual is to difficult of a concept to grasp for many still too, so I don't know why I'm surprised that people don't understand transgender.

I was scrolling through my Facebook feed when I saw a friend ask if anyone has any feedback about the show, I am Cait. That is the reality show about Caitlyn Jenner, formerly known as Bruce Jenner. Believe it or not, I've never seen an episode of any Kardashian show and I didn't watch I am Cait either. I just don't care about any of them enough to want to watch any show featuring any of them.

I don't have any strong feelings about any of them, the Jenners included. I'm just not a fan. I never think about them until they're in my face. I don't begrudge them their fame. Who am I to judge them? I watch other reality tv, so it isn't like the perception that they're famous for nothing bothers me. If you can find a way to be famous and make millions, where people aren't sure exactly what you do- all the power to you. Many people wish that could be their life.

It's funny, when Caitlyn Jenner was picked as the recipient for the Arthur Ashe Courage award, I was all about standing up for Cait. Because I do still think that the man formerly known as famous athlete Bruce Jenner was brave for being able to finally come out as Caitlyn and live her truth. Except, that I didn't really know anything about Bruce Jenner or Caitlyn Jenner. I didn't know what he stood for and I didn't know what she stands for. I didn't know political affiliation or anything else. I knew this was a person being ridiculed daily in the public eye, in tabloids, and on radio shows. I am a huge supporter of the LGBTQ community and I think everyone should be able to be who they are.

People I know were comparing Caitlyn to troops fighting wars overseas. They compared her to veterans. They said she was undeserving of a courage award and decidedly not brave. I argued the opposite. This was an award given in sports. By ESPN. Bruce Jenner, now Caitlyn, was a famous athlete as a man. Now he is a woman. Troops and vets had nothing to do with this award and they can all be considered brave.

Caitlyn Jenner

After all the hype died down, I started to get wind of the real Caitlyn Jenner with the Bruce Jenner values, convictions, and privilege. And I realized that I am not interested in her, her story, or her thoughts on much of anything. I'm not watching anything featuring her and I don't care to hear her views on politics.

However- I still think she's brave. Why? Because even with all her money, all her privilege, and her conservative republican views, she's still transgender and that comes with a stigma. With ridicule. With the ever present fear that harm might come to you just for being you.

I just don't have to like HER. Just as all gay people aren't the same, all straight people aren't the same, all trans people aren't the same. There are great people in every bunch and jerks in every bunch as well. It's the act of living as who you are that's brave for anyone. That's something for everyone to aspire to and for which to have compassion.

I saw the comments on my friend's post asking if anyone has watched the show. I saw how one person said that she doesn't believe Cait is really a transgender woman. That she did it for the money. SHE CHANGED HER GENDER FOR MONEY. I could tell that this woman really believes this. That someone who was so publicly and celebrated as a male, would change their gender for fame and money. At sixty-something years old.

Then, a second person didn't put her opinion out there in any more words than "No comment,", which was telling enough. They both ended up saying that they just didn't want to argue on the original person's Facebook page. But I knew enough about what they believe. I've encountered people like this on social media, people I grew up with, friends of friends, and someone's a-hole husband I defriended and blocked because he was such an uneducated, ignorant buffoon on all that is transgender men and women (and most everything else he had opinions about).

So, yes, I think anyone who comes out as a trans man or woman, especially in the public eye, is brave and courageous. I happen to live somewhere, for the most part, where people are generally more liberal about homosexuality, marriage equality, transgender issues, etc. Generally. But North Jersey is a SMALL area compared to the rest of the country. In other parts of the STATE, let alone the country, people are not welcoming, hospitable, understanding, compassionate, or even interested in learning about anything having to do with the trans community. They're biased and bigoted all the while being totally ignorant.

I'm behind, but have been watching this season's American Crime show on ABC. I'm sick over watching how terrible events came about like a boulder going down a hill. It's a great depiction of how being ignorant and intolerant of homosexuality can lead to deadly and sickening consequences. Also, how the area you live in can play a major role in how people who are different can be perceived.

The friend who posted the inquiry about watching the show grew up where I did but has since moved south. I don't know if the people posting their opinions are from where she lives currently, but they live there now. It just reminded me of how far we still have to go in understanding those who are different from what we know. The fact that there are people who still believe that being gay is a choice or that being transgender is a choice shows how much more education is needed. We may have shows like Transparent (which is fabulous), and it may win Emmy's, but we are far from a fully enlightened society. But that's a tv show, and it's LA. Also known as LaLa Land. It's not real life. There are real people, living real lives transgender, and they certainly aren't doing it for fame or money. Or attention.

Jeffrey Tambor in Transparent
While I am not into Caitlyn Jenner specifically, I am for being whoever you are. And to remind people that while we've made progress, we're not done. Those of us who aren't part of the trans community, need to stop perpetuating lies and general misinformation that anyone is changing genders for any kind of monetary reward. If you don't understand it- that's fine too. But go do yourself, and everyone else, a favor, and do some real research. I'm glad there are shows like I am Jazz, to show my son at such an early age. So he grows up seeing transgender people the same way he sees anyone else- as people. Humans.

Jazz Jennings- "I am Jazz"

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