Understanding Caitlyn Jenner

man womanSince Caitlyn Jenner photos were revealed in Vanity Fair, media coverage has exploded from all angles. I have been rolling these images and their implications in my head for a while. What I sadly discovered about myself was that if I am truly honest about my feeling, the whole thing made me uncomfortable. The question is why?

Was I uncomfortable about her being trans-gendered? No, quite frankly Caitlyn Jenner’s life really doesn’t effect mine at all, so It really has no bearing on me what gender she is. Was it the visuals splashed all over the TV an print media. Not really, if I passed her on the street, I would not have known she was formerly a man, nor would I care. So that wasn’t it either.

What I admitted to myself was that my discomfort came from my own ignorance. I did not understand it. Having always been a woman and never feeling the need to be anything other than what I was, I just didn’t understand the need for someone to change genders.

That being said, it also occurred to me that just because I didn’t understand this need did not make it any less of a need for Bruce Jenner at the time. For him, the need to be a woman was strong enough to suffer through hormone treatments, surgery and societal judgement. Just because I didn’t understand it doesn’t mean it was not real for Caitlyn Jenner

handglideI mean, I don’t know what it feels like to handglide, or battle addiction, but it doesn’t make the feelings associated with them any less real to those who experience it. Who am I illegitimize Caitlyn’s feelings in pursuit of what she needs to feel whole, complete and happy. Sometimes we are not in a position to fully understand situation, but we can accept and respect the legitimate feelings of another.

I heard a catholic Deacon discuss this issue and the word they used was compassion. I think they had it right. We can show compassion for her pain, even if it is unlike anything we have known. We can also respect the triumph in her pursue to be her true self. In the words of Pope Francis, “Who am I to judge.”

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