I usually write about nerdy things, but today I feel like tackling something a little less nerdy, something kind of personal, and something most definitely controversial. My shields are up and my hailing frequencies are open, so let’s get this ship on the move.
Recently, former Olympian Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner has come out as a male-to-female transgender person.
And my general reaction has been one of apathy. I honestly do not care that Jenner is changing. It is her body and her life and I’m relatively unaffected.
The caveat there is relatively unaffected.
I’ve mostly been affected on transgender issues by friends and others I know and encounter during my everyday life.
I still don’t entirely understand transgender issues, but I don’t use that as an excuse for bigotry and hatred.
A lot of people are reacting negatively against Jenner. I see it in my workplace. And it bothers me. One of my coworkers regarded Jenner as an “it.” That kind of bothered me. I suggested to they coworker they use the more gender-neutral singular pronoun and far less offensive “they” if they felt uncomfortable referring to Jenner as a female. Not my proudest moment because Jenner wants people to refer to her as “her” and other similar pronouns, so I’ll do that from now on. Other coworkers have reacted with the same level of apathy as I have, or expressed levels of disgust I find uncomfortable.
The other figure that has helped me come to terms with the transgender community is Isabella “Bunny” Bennet of the musical group Steam Powered Giraffe. Bunny portrays the character “Rabbit” in the musical group, alongside her identical brother David Bennet (the Spine) and friend Sam Luke (Hatchworth).
Seeing Bunny change from a male to a female really helped me understand transgender issues as well. After Bunny came out as a male-to-female transgender person, I found myself actively correcting my use of pronouns when I spoke about Rabbit. I would use the male pronouns from sheer habit for months while reminding myself the character was now a lady and wanted to be called a lady.
That being said: Bunny, please bring back Rabbit’s awesome goggles and hat. I really miss those. A lot.
What bothers me the most about Jenner’s coming out is the lack of understanding and wide amounts of disrespect so many people are reacting with. I’m using these recent events as a gauge of sorts to determine just how much work people like me—heterosexual, comfortable with our gender people—have to do in order to become more loving and accepting. Sure, there’s always going to be things that unsettle us personally and make us uncomfortable because we do or don’t entirely understand them, but that doesn’t give us the right to react from fear and confusion.
For some further reading, check out Ms. Bennet’s opinions on transgender stuff right as she began her transition from male-to-female.