There are a couple of quotes that have been rolling around in my mind this last week:
“…you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:32
This above all: to thine own self be true.” – Hamlet”
I know…there are specific contexts for both of them, but there’s also a broader truth that I’ve been thinking about because of the stories about Caitlyn Jenner.
Bruce Jenner was a part of my extended family for a few years, although I did not know Bruce well because Bruce and Chrystie lived in a different part of the country.
But as I (along with thousands of others) saw Bruce’s interview with Diane Sawyer and then saw Caitlyn on the cover of Vanity Fair, I was struck by one thing in particular…the eyes.
I have an autographed picture of Bruce after the Olympic win. It is a pretty typical celebrity photo…and for many years I didn’t really see anything special in it. But when I saw Caitlyn’s picture, and compared it with this earlier picture, I was struck by the peace that I saw in Caitlyn’s eyes. They don’t look haunted, like I now see in so many of the pictures I see of Bruce.
And I was struck by Caitlyn’s comment that she is “now free”…free to be who she has thought she was for so many years.
I know that many people are tired of hearing about the Jenner transition. Others rave about how heroic Jenner is. And others just don’t understand it. I’m somewhere in the middle of all of this.
Would I call Caitlyn a hero? No…but I certainly call her brave. She has been the butt of jokes for a number of years, and to face them head on like she has…and to openly share the story of her journey…is certainly brave. And I salute that bravery. Not just for her but also for the many transgender young people who have felt like they have had to hide who they are…but who now have another role model for becoming real.
There have been many comments about how Caitlyn “of course” looks gorgeous…why wouldn’t she with all the help she had in preparing for the cover shoot? Is that really so wrong? Who of us wouldn’t want to look the best we could if going through something this important in our lives?
Some who knew Bruce as a younger person have commented that Bruce was not a pleasant person…so is Caitlyn going to be any different? I hope so. Part of that hope comes from Caitlyn’s comments that “I have high hopes that Caitlyn is a better person than Bruce. I’m very much looking forward to that.”
When one is true to oneself, then I think it becomes easier to be nicer to others. You cannot live a lie to yourself without being fearful of exposure to others…and that definitely has to impact how you relate to them.
The furor will eventually die down, and that’s good.
Caitlyn is now free to be true to herself…and I hope and pray that the days are not too far away when other transgender people who are hiding themselves will be able to be true to themselves…and to be free.