Tuesday, July 7, 2015

7-7-2015 Entry: An Open Letter Response to Caitlyn Jenner’s “The Journey Begins”


This is a response to Caitlyn Jenner's post which can be read here: http://caitlynjenner.com/2015/07/the-journey-begins/


Dear Caitlyn,

First I want to congratulate you on finally coming out publicly after all of these years. I can only imagine how difficult that must have been. I do know the pressures one feels when trying to decide if this is something one really wants to do as I’ve done it myself, but to have such a recognizable name must have compounded this decision a thousand times over. It really is no wonder, given the unpreparedness of the world, that you waited as long as you did to finally begin living as your true self out in the world.

I write to you today, however, not to simply congratulate you on your coming out and the acceptance you’ve received from family, friends, and the public but to try to impress upon you the heavy burden you have, willingly or not, taken upon yourself. I am encouraged by your words when you say that you want so much to get this right, and if your previous determination in your athletic  achievements is any indication of your ability to achieve the goals you set out, then I suspect you will go to great lengths to meet this objective. I won’t lie, you are in an unenviable place because not only is the entire trans/queer/non-binary community watching your every move and word, but you have become an unelected spokesman for a very diverse community (which you are quite new to) to the cisgender population.

I can tell from your words in your initial post to your blog that this situation is not lost on you, but I think there is a potential here that perhaps even you have not yet fully considered. Not only can you serve as a bridge between a population of dehumanized, ostracized, and delegitimized people and their oppressors, who until recently were barely aware of the cruelty that their gender norms and expectations have wreaked on those who do not meet them, but I believe you have the potential to take the transgender cause to a whole new level. Because of your widely recognized name and immediate fame (or infamy depending on who you ask)  you have an opportunity to become involved in the politics of the trans revolution in a major way. With your access to the richest 1% of American society, not only can you bring the voice of this very diverse group to their ears (which was previously unattainable), but you may be able to bring the only thing that seems to matter in politics these days, money.

I’m not personally looking for a handout, but I can tell you right now that the system is stacked against people like you and I. Maybe your wealth frees you from some of the bonds of those imprisoning limitations, but there are hundreds of thousands of American transgender/non-binary individuals out there who will likely never gain access to the treatments that you (or even I as a highly educated, middle class Caucasian) have access to. I know when you are wealthy everyone is always asking what’s in it for them? Where is their share of your wealth? But please do not mistake my words for that same palm-out attitude. I know you have no obligation to use your money or the influence you might have over other people’s money for anything but your own self-satisfying wants, desires, and needs, but I want you to consider an idea that could leave a long-lasting impact on the transgender world.

For many years now I have dreamed of running or at least being a significant part in a non-profit organization that helped people like me in need. It began at first with a simple wish to provide truly depressed individuals contemplating suicide with access to cheap or free mental health services or community resources (a very close friend of mine committed suicide a few years ago and I have also contemplated doing the same more times than I care to count), but as my transition from Robert to Emma has commenced over the last 9 months or so and I began volunteering my time to correspond with transgender/non-binary/agender individuals all around the world, my vision of that non-profit changed. Today I hope to one day be part of a non-profit organization that helps transgender/non-binary/etc. individuals find not only the community services they are desperately in need of (support groups, shelter options for homeless youth, etc.) but to also help them afford the amazingly expensive treatments that go along with transition; whether that is simply trying to provide better access to transition medications or even helping these people afford the outrageously expensive medical and cosmetic procedures typically associated with many transitions. Obviously I, as a person without much financial excess, am not in a position (yet) to achieve this dream. Perhaps one day my writing will take me to that level but for now, this dream is unattainable in my current circumstances.

You, however, with your wide appeal to the general public, with your associations with some of the nation’s wealthiest individuals/families, and with your own not-insignificant personal wealth ARE someone capable of achieving this dream. I know that you probably get inundated with ideas like this from a thousand different directions and I apologize if I’m just another fly buzzing around your head (assuming, of course, you ever descend from the throne of fame and wealth privilege to read a lowly transwoman’s blog like mine), but I would be remiss if I didn’t use the only effective tool I’ve ever had (my writing) in order to try to appeal to you for this cause.

Imagine if you will, the Caitlyn Jenner Foundation: Changing Lives and Transcending Boundaries

Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? I’m so eager for this entity to grow into existence that I would be willing to just give you the idea. I don’t care if you get or take all the credit because this is about something bigger than me; this is about actually instituting the changes I’ve been trying to advocate for over the last several months. I want nothing more than for my words to inspire in you the amazing opportunity for meaningful work you can do that others, like myself, who are too limited by the constraints of just getting by, cannot possibly do.

There would be no greater work nor any more rewarding effort than to spend your time doing something like this. You say that you want to get this right, and I’m taking you at your word on that, but I want you to do something so much more than just getting it right. I want you to prove to the world how sincere you are with the words you spoke during your interview with Diane Sawyer. You believed then, or at least asserted, that you coming out could really help the Transgender/queer/non-binary cause and the changes that are required for equality to be achieved, so my question to you is how far are you willing to go to achieve that?

Are you just another Kardashian, destined to be seen only as being completely self-infatuated with fame and the comforts that come from an excess of money? Or are you going to be Caitlyn Jenner, the trans woman who changed everything?

I have learned, probably at a much earlier age than most, that death is the inevitable end to everyone’s life, including mine (and yours). There is no escaping it, no denying it, no praying for more time and no fountain of youth to prevent it. One day both you and I will die and the only thing that will be left over is the legacy we leave behind. I’m choosing to devote my life and time to making the world a better place, to giving the love, support, and kindness I’ve been lucky enough to experience myself to others who might be less fortunate than myself. I wish to spend my time and effort tearing down the gender binary, its norms, expectations, and shaming tactics until my dying breath. I want to expand human consciousness on a societal level to see that the human spirit is far too amazing, mysterious, ever changing, creative and powerful to ever be confined to simply an either or system of male or female. I wish to inspire the freedom to self-express without the limitations of the gender binary. I am living a life without regret because I understand that every minute, every hour, every day, every week, every month, and every year is a gift, not to be squandered only on the pursuits of self-gratifying desires, but to be spent doing something worthy of remembrance and pride.

You have done so much already in your life and I would not blame you if you wished to spend your final years simply exploring yourself and this new identity you’ve embraced, but I hope you will do more than just that. I hope you will recognize that you, alone, are situated in a position that could execute amazing change, not only by your example, but by your time, money, and effort as well.

I believe I speak on behalf of a large portion of the trans community when I say: I hope you are more than just a famous Kardashian who’s only novelty is that you are also transgender.  A famous movie quote goes, “With great power, comes great responsibility.”

Will you be the trans community’s spider (wo)man, fighting the injustices that our broken system currently cannot handle, or are you just a super powered Peter Parker with no desire to exact lasting change?

-Emma

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