An open response to the ignorant and disrespectful post to the basic rules of humanity, written by Matt Walsh for The Blaze.
A decade after we met, I sat across the Studio City California Pizza Kitchen table from my high school soul sister. She put the silly in my goofball, shared my passion for music and was my high-five-go-to-girl (“oh-my-god-no-way!”) for my secret boy crushes. She also damp-shouldered every youthful heartbreak I ever had.
I was more excited than usual to see her because she told me she had news and for ten years I had waited to hear that she had finally found a boyfriend. I looked expectantly at her from across the table and said, “Well?!”
She squirmed in her seat and looked everywhere but at me for a few moments and said, “I’m in a relationship…”
I jumped in my seat, giggling and clapping.
“…with a woman.”
I froze mid-jump/giggle/clap and looked at her while a decade of misunderstood moments came at me like a Nolan Ryan baseball pitched in a life-flashed-before-my-eyes, fast-motion movie montage.
Oh. My. God. Of course! How did I not see it?
My celebratory chair dance became more animated than ever, because it all made sense.
I was beyond happy for her. I also felt like the worst friend of all time. Had I done something to prevent her from telling me? When I later told my parents, they looked at each other and then at me while simultaneously singing, “Du-uh.”
I looked at her and realized the miracle of this change. She managed to crack open a coconut-shell, revealing her center. I was inspired by her strength and honesty and envious of the power of her authenticity. It helped me see the importance of individual truth and that without it, we had nothing.
As she came out, I witnessed a painful loss of “friends” who chose to remain limited in their narcissistic expectations on the life of another. And I was incredibly proud of my friend.
While so many have been positive, I will never understand the negative reactions to Caitlyn’s transition. While scrolling through my Facebook feed, I tripped over an article on a website (launched by Glenn Beck in 2011 called The Blaze) entitled Calling Bruce Jenner a Woman is an Insult to Women, by Matt Walsh.
The opening line: Parents, be aware: soon the magazine rack in the checkout line at the supermarket will feature this profoundly disturbing image of Bruce Jenner.
Is he suggesting we hide these things from our children? More like a missed opportunity for a great conversation starter at the grocery store check-out counter. “Timmy, please put the candy bars back. We should be eating lots more veggies. And, hey, what do you think of that Vanity Fair cover photo?”
I loved those conversations with my kids. There is no better way to get a fresh perspective on something than from the open mind of a child. Not a child who has been told what to think, feel and believe, but one who has been exposed to tolerance and encouraged to speak from the heart. I also really wanted to know my children at their core.
Mr. Walsh makes some points about our narcissistic culture and Caitlyn’s transition buying right into our cultural objectification of women with the excessive use of makeup, hair extensions, cosmetic surgery, sexy lingerie and air-brushed photos for Caitlyn’s feminine magazine cover debut. Okay, but is that what this whole thing is about? That’s a whole other article. After 65 years of presenting the “man lie” that was Bruce, to those Annie Leibovitz glamour shots that are Caitlyn, I say “you go girl!”
Then Mr. Walsh makes the accusation that “he resembles a mentally disordered man who is being manipulated by disingenuous liberals and self-obsessed gay activists.” Judgmental psychological diagnosis, political stereotype and homophobia all rolled into one neat little phrase.
Help me out. Is Caitlyn “mentally disordered” because she is a woman trapped inside society’s dictation of the body of a man? Uh. Maybe she was just born that way, Matt. And are all liberals disingenuous, or just the ones supporting Caitlyn Jenner? Are all activists self-obsessed? Or just the gay ones?
I can’t even begin to imagine what it must feel like to look like one thing and to know in your heart of hearts that you are something else. And who is to say what is “normal?” Navigating from a childhood sexual inkling to a fully realized gender and sexual being is a serious expedition. No two experiences are exactly alike.
Mr. Walsh says the situation is depressing, wrong and disgusting, calling Caitlyn selfish for “taking their father from his children and coercing them into dealing with such a devastating development in front of the whole world.”
GROWN children, I might add. And if Caitlyn wasn’t her authentic self, she was never fully available to begin with.
I have mixed feelings about the public display because it is something I would probably not want to put my own children through. But that would be my choice. The Jenner family has been in the public spotlight for a very long time, and while tripping through the mine field of gender/sexuality is a private path for most of us, this is not a private family. The words “brave,” “heroic,” “beautiful” and “historic” have been peppered throughout many articles on this subject for a reason. It is easy for people like Matt Walsh to sit back and point a judgmental commentary at people for what he thinks they should not be doing rather than coming up with possible solutions as to how we can all love and understand one another as the beautiful individuals we are.
Narcissism is not a new thing. Its long-remembered myth has been around inspiring works of literature, poetry, paintings and other works of art for two thousand years. Does the release of our true self indicate an act of narcissism? I think it just makes us honest and more fully equipped to live a happy life. Matt Walsh says Caitlyn Jenner “reminds me of someone who is being abandoned to his delusions by a culture of narcissistic imbeciles.” But who are the true narcissists here? The ones releasing their inner rawness and their best parts for all to poke at, ridicule and hopefully, maybe love? Or those who have created an arrogant and narrow expectation of the limited parameters of life for the rest of us? Caitlyn is finally speaking the truth for who she is. It is the narcissist who lives a life of lies.
As one who celebrated the Olympic gold medal male athlete that in my limited exposure and expectation was Bruce Jenner, I have to admit that I had mixed emotions over the Vanity Fair photo. When I first saw it, it took me a minute to adjust. But that was about me and my personal adjustment to the change. Does it affect me? Does it in any way hurt me or my loved ones that Caitlyn revealed what she feels is her true identity? Nope. On the contrary, she has opened up a clearly much-needed dialogue.
I have a friend who has a child who went through the opposite transformation as Caitlyn. While my friend wholeheartedly supported and welcomed her new son into her life, there was a period of mourning the loss of her daughter. There is an adjustment period that should be acknowledged. But, seriously. If they can handle that adjustment, can’t we?
Matt Walsh says transgenderism kills feminism. There was a time when radical feminists were at odds with the idea of transgenderism, suggesting transgender women had not earned their femininity and as “women by choice,” they continued to benefit from male privileges. Any group promoting discrimination of any kind should be examined and the exclusion of transgender women is not a widely held belief among feminists in general. True feminism is about equal rights for ALL women. There are a few sour grapes on every vine.
Just as gay marriage takes nothing away from marriage between a man and a woman, a transgender person in ZERO WAYS threatens my femininity. In fact, a transgender person celebrates it. And I am pretty damn sure Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair debut in no way affected my sexual attractiveness to my significant other.
One more thing. Mr. Walsh complained about GLAAD using the phrase “authentic self” (which I too have used throughout this piece) as a means to define “a digitally modified, cosmetically altered, manipulatively posed, chemically tampered with, basically cartoon image on a magazine cover…” HELLO? It’s a freaking picture. Show me a magazine cover that hasn’t been altered! What GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis actually said was, “By sharing her journey with the world, Caitlyn Jenner is accelerating acceptance of transgender people everywhere and reminds us all how important it is to live as your most authentic self.” The key words here are “to live as your most authentic self.” To refer to the magazine cover alone completely misses the point.
It kills me to think about the torture my dear childhood friend must have endured simply because she thought she would not be accepted for who she was. The discovery that one of my children had struggled that way would have been much worse. Shouldn’t our goal be about love and acceptance of the truth in all of us? Without that, don’t we limp through life as hollow shells of potential? Perhaps we should stop all the labelling and choose acceptance and love.
As to Caitlyn Jenner’s “insult” to women? Please. Caitlyn’s debut arrived after years of painful self-reflection and obvious effort in finally achieving that goal. As a woman, I have never felt more complimented.