If you’re talking shit about Caitlyn Jenner and it has nothing to do with materialism gone awry and the horrors of reality television, chances are you’re being a bigot.
Most of the arguments are not merely bullshit, they’re flailing, awkward attempts to belittle her without simply having the intellectual courage to say, “I don’t like him because he’s different.”
I want to get personal for a second. For me this isn’t about Bruce or Caitlyn Jenner. I hate bigotry. More than that, I hate when people want all of the perks of acting like a bigot but refuse to accept they’re being a bigot.
I’ve talked about these things before, bigotry, prejudice, group think, and cognitive dissonance, so this time I’ll come at it from a different angle.
You and I are bigots. It is absolutely impossible for a human being to trust and reflexively accept each and every new and different person, place, or thing they meet. We’re not built that way, and if we were we’d be dead because a few too many people would have tried to hug sabertooths, pet mastodons, and embrace members of violent competitor tribes out to steal all our yams and destroy our village deity. There’s a component of bigotry hard-wired into us on a visceral level that kept us alive before we had culture.
The problem is now we have culture, now we have societies that include tons of very different people with different looks and values. The problem is when we refuse to act like adults, and we continue to act out our bigotry, we commit violence and abuse toward people we don’t like simply because they’re different.
If you feel a knee-jerk reaction when you see a black person, don’t hate yourself, but don’t act on it. You know, intellectually, that not all black people fit into any sort of sociologic labeling. It’s not possible. If you are weirded out by the public display of homosexual affection, don’t punish yourself, just accept that you’re not used to it and that’s a natural emotional reaction connected to your lack of understanding or familiarity. The shitty thing is when you start name-calling or worse physically bullying or robbing “others” of rights that every citizen deserves.
Because when you talk shit about somebody because they’re different, you’re perpetuating a culture that works to oppress those people. It results in women not being able to vote, blacks not being able to marry whites, gays not being able to marry and having records as sexual offenders. Your casual bigotry emboldens the people who do the really terrible things and you’re voting for the people who’ll institutionalize more terrible things.
This macro and very similar ones has circulated for weeks and sadly that distribution is not slowing down
Some people see that and they have several affirmative responses. One might be, “hell yeah, some weird famous dude is not as much of a hero as a soldier!” Who wants to be the one that disagrees with the poster?
Here’s the thing. Caitlyn Jenner never said she was as brave and heroic as a soldier. In fact, the only people making the comparison are the ones that have a visceral, negative response to Caitlyn Jenner.
Now, I’ll buy it if someone genuinely hates the Kardashians and lumps Jenner into that, but a person isn’t doing that when they say Jenner is delusional or fucked up or confused because he’s obviously a guy but thinks he’s a girl. They are just taking issue with Jenner’s sexual identity–something they have no understanding of but think it’s icky an makes them uncomfortable.
The argument asserts that someone who is a soldier is a hero and that Jenner is not a hero because he is a “dude in a dress.” Are all soldiers heroes? We know that’s not the case. We have too many stories of the vile, murderous, cowardly things that some soldiers have done to confidently say all soldiers are heroes.
Are all dudes in a dresses incapable of being a hero? Has no cross-dresser or transgender ever done something heroic? Is there something that prevents them from having the same tendencies for heroism, love, loneliness, etc as anyone else?If someone believes that this idea is true, then they are too much of a bigot to reason this faulty logic out.
What is a hero?
For the people who claim to have something enlightened to say about who is and isn’t a hero, ask them if they’d ever tell someone who says that their Uncle John is their hero that, you know what? He’s not your hero. He’s a smelly old dude and he smokes too much. Ask them if they’d ever tell a recovering addict that their sponsor is their hero that they have ridiculously low standards for what makes someone a hero. Of course not. But why? Because they can understand those things. They don’t understand what Jenner represents or don’t like it so they won’t reason it out.
I actually had somebody say something like, Jenner would need to march out all of the people for whom he has been heroic. This seems weirdly tone-deaf. WHO do they think is calling him a hero?! If there is so much conversation about him being a hero that someone feels the need to make a disparaging comparison between him and soldiers, who in the hell is calling him a hero? Weird, right? You’d think people were letting bigotry cloud rational judgment and critical thinking or something.
Here’s a statistic that makes me sad. Roughly half of all transgender kids will attempt to kill themselves before they reach their 20th birthday.
Maybe those kids need a few heroes.
Here’s some more brain-melting ass-hattery
Oooh, look! She’s droppin’ a TRUTH BOMB.
Talk about specious. So many of the things this women is saying are imagery of good and powerful women.
The ugly problem here is that she has decided she’s the one with the moral, biological, psychological, spiritual authority to decide Caitlyn Jenner can’t be a woman.
Listen, you’re not lashing out at her because she’s wearing expensive dresses and jewelry, and don’t for a single second expect any rational person who thinks this through for a hot minute is going to believe that you are angry for mothers and cancer survivors everywhere. You’re offended by the existence of Caitlyn Jenner and you’re trying to use unrelated points to dress it up. It’s more of the same false equivalence. What are we legitimately to do with the comparison between Caitlyn Jenner and a cancer survivor? The cancer survivor doesn’t want to dragged into this and neither does Jenner. Is anybody saying, “my that Caitlyn Jenner sure demonstrates two feminity and bravery! She puts cancer survivors and soldiers to shame”?
No. People are observing the real world around them. They’re seeing hundreds of transgender children commiting suicide each year. They’re seeing the violence STILL visited upon gay and transgender people. And they are seeing a famous person who took a pretty big risk because SHE was sick of living in the shadows, and they know how much of a positive effect just Jenner is and will have just by coming out.
Caitlyn Jenner is not my hero, but I’m not so much of an asshole or so quick to judge that I’m going to diminish what she does for tens of thousands of scared and confused people. I’m not going to take time and effort to belittle some sweet trans girl’s joy, but then again. I don’t have any issues I have to overcome with people like this.
Once upon a time I thought being gay was a bad thing. Then I grew up. I know gay people. I understand what their lifestyle does and doesn’t mean. I have less fear in my heart and very little bitterness.
Know this, if someone is being a bigot and gets mighty offended if you call them out, two things are going on. 1) They think they are good people and what they’re doing can’t be bad. They are just having a righteous response to immoral behavior. However, they won’t own up to their righteous response being bigotry EVEN IF they admit that diminishing people just because they’re gay is bigoted and wrong, they won’t make that connection because it calls into question their self-righteousness. 2) They think a bigot is a slobbering, red-faced, hateful person, and they probably aren’t any of those things.
The only way to deal with this is to keep confronting people when they do the shitty things. Don’t sweep it under the rug because you’re not doing them or the people they’re marginalizing any favors.
Also, try to have compassion. (More compassion than I feel like I have for them most of the time. I have to work on that.) Drum those facts home. They ARE being bigots. Bigotry isn’t always cartoony supervillainy. Even good people can be douchenozzles.
You can also read this amusing yet depressing exchange between me and someone who also responded to the hero macro.
Also, read one woman’s perspective on Jenner, transgender, and feminism.