And yet, what Ms. Jenner and the countless thousands just like her teach society is that gender has no fixed definitions. Nobody is 100% masculine or 100% feminine. All human beings are a beautiful mix of masculinity and femininity. Men cry. Women blow stuff up. Maybe we should liken gender more to skin color. Think about the zillions of possible skin tones from alabaster white to midnight black. Even here, nobody is 100% white or 100% black - there is variation. Likewise, there is variation within gender. Some people born biologically male (presence of a penis) are masculine whereas some are more feminine. Some people born biologically female (presence of a vagina) are feminine whereas some are more masculine. Some people with penises see themselves more as female or a woman and desire to highlight their femininity. Some people with vaginas see themselves more as a male or a man and desire to highlight their masculinity. This should not be seen as a problem. This should be seen as a celebration of the incredible complexity of the human species and the unbridled need within to be one's true self.
I have long been baffled by even the most progressive individual's hesitancy about embracing gender diversity and an individual's right to reconstruct what it means to be a "man" or a "woman", as if social norms are always correct. Social norms are 'normally' proven wrong over generations, and we spend oodles of time dissecting norms of the past and shaking our heads in disbelief. "They really thought...what?" we often ask of our ancestors. Let's not repeat history.
Let's celebrate, rather than denigrate, Caitlyn Jenner. Let's wish her well on her journey toward self-discovery and wholeness. We are all Caitlyn Jenner. It may not be gender conformity that we struggle with, but we all struggle with some sort of conformity issue - the need to be true to ourselves while confronting the social barrier preventing that self-actualization. Congratulations, Caitlyn! Well done - and thank you.
Be kind to each other and to yourself.
© Copyright 2015 Douglas Layer, M.A., LPCC