“For all intents and purposes, I’m a woman,” says the man who was once considered to be the world’s greatest athlete.
Bruce Jenner, now known as reality star Kim Kardashian’s step-father, was once a man who was famed for taking America to great heights. She had championed the decathlon event at the 1976 Olympics, and for the longest period of time, the life that she led, had become a reflection of that moment of glory. Today, Jenner has come out as Caitlyn, and she openly identifies as transgender.
Never having been associated with the world of transgender individuals, I cannot claim to understand the agony they suffer on a daily basis; I do however, have always been intrigued by the subject, and curious to understand their difficulties.
My knowledge has led me to believe that their struggles are defined by, confusion. To question yourself about whether you are a girl or a boy, knowing the answer, but being confounded by your external appearance, I can assure you, is not easy on them, at all.
Jenner too, then, is no different from any other transgender individual who has had to fight to understand their own self. According to Jenner, she has lived her entire life as a lie, and her obsession to create a ‘macho’ persona was a result of the inner conflict that she faced, as a child, and as an adult. Not being able to dress, behave or come out as a woman, made her even more determined to amplify her masculine persona. She was even married, thrice, and has fathered six children.
The struggle of living as a symbol of masculinity for 65 years of her life, undoubtedly has taken a toll on Jenner, however, it is the approach that she has taken towards presenting her external feminine appearance that intrigues me most about her case.
Her decision to come out in Vanity Fair Magazine, looking plush and fancy while wearing dresses designed by some of the world’s most acclaimed designers, and being photographed by a renowned photographer like Annie Leibovitz, made me think, and think hard.
What if, Jenner was not who she was today? – A celebrated athlete, a motivational speaker, an obscure, but nonetheless, a reality television celebrity. What if, she was just an average human being whose life, barring other issues, was to a degree, defined by the amount of money she earned. What then?
Most certainly, Jenner’s openly public and courageous coming out, would have and will encourage innumerable people to face their fears, and spread awareness about the issue. On the other hand though, the pomp and show of her coming out, in my understanding, ridicules the process of transitioning, a process that, for most transgender individuals, comes with a lifetime full of hurdles. Not only because it means constantly fighting for support from their loved ones, but also because the process calls for some serious financial backup. Surgeries, hormone treatments, therapy sessions, the beginning of a new life, all require money. Their fight and their pain are real, in the truest sense of the word. Jenner’s out rightly public transition almost makes her struggles appear facile, and her words capricious. But then again, if you have it, flaunt it, while humility takes a stroll in your very own backyard.
Every individual has the right to lead their lives however they deem fit, but, contentious issues call for a certain degree of regard and caution, for not everybody can transition into womanhood in elegant designer dresses.