I normally shy away from bringing up issues that have the potential to cause dissent. Things that might be deemed politically correct, or “too” religious, or accepted by the wider culture we live in. Except, the other day I was out running errands, and while waiting in line, the tabloids in the check out area exulted the “good news” of our new ability to “change” ourselves to what we think we should be. I’d rather not even think about it anymore, but there were 10 year olds looking at the same magazines I was, and it disturbed me.
Enough to step out of my comfort zone and write about it. So… here goes….
Bruce, or… Caitlyn Jenner.
Does anybody want to be who God made them to be anymore?
If someone can “self-identify” with someone other than what they grew up as, does that truly make them someone else?
I honestly don’t know. I do believe there’s always room for grace, even if – especially if – we don’t understand or agree with a different viewpoint. But can we fundamentally orchestrate the change we envision by ourselves? And I’m not talking about modern medicine here.
I know that when I was younger I fantasized about being anybody other than the nerdy, shy, skinny kid I was. And over time, I’ve (semi) overcome these things. I’d like to “self-identify” as a charismatic person that puts everyone at ease, but really, at my core, I’m still that nerdy, shy person who probably makes others feel more awkward by my silence than I would hope.
Just because someone wants to self-identify as something outside of the walls of a given profile or at its worse, stereotype, are they a new creation? Just because you religiously apply spray tanner or get an operation to enhance other-gender characteristics, aren’t you really still the same on the inside? Weren’t the experiences you had growing up unique to that kind of specific life?
Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner may have always wanted to be a female, but he/she likely didn’t grow up playing with Barbies. His/her mom probably didn’t “let” him/her iron the handkerchiefs and linen napkins as “practice” for his/her own home. He/she may have wanted to dress in ladies’ clothing, but he/she never had to suffer the embarrassment of having the bust of a prom dress taken in when it was obviously way too large. He/she didn’t experience that weird timing that happens when a bunch of females all live in one building, creating a petri dish of hormonal craziness about 10 days before, well… you know. How can you say you’re a woman when these things have been left out of the equation? (May I just say that typing all those he/she and his/her is exhausting? But, he/she still has… parts… so he/she can’t really be both genders. I’m trying to be sensitive to the situation, but it’s all so very confusing.)
Rachel Dolezal may have drawn her earliest self-portraits with the brown crayon and not the peach one, but she I doubt she endured the time-consuming discomfort of having her hair corn-rowed as a young girl. Even changing her appearance to that of a cafe au lait color, I’m skeptical that she fully inhabited the “black experience” in a way that the majority of the African Americans grew up living. Did she grow up hearing ancestral horror stories of plantation life? Or perhaps an inspiring tale of an aunt or uncle who participated in the civil rights movement in the 60’s? How can you identify with a culture that struggled for centuries while you’ve only endured that same struggle in a much smaller fashion for a fraction of time? Instead of your whole life.
How can you really be someone or something that you don’t have a lifetime understanding of? Is it really as simple as changing your skin color or facial hair growth?
When I was 7 years old, my parents took me to the Rose Bowl, and we stayed in the Ambassor Hotel, where Bobby Kennedy had been shot by Sirhan Sirhan. I don’t remember much about the hotel except that everyone seemed to make a big deal about it being the hotel where Bobby Kennedy had been assasinated. I do remember however, that when my dad was checking in, I noticed a very strange “woman” in a blue suit and hat. I remember asking my mom why that woman looked so odd. I think I must’ve said it rather loudly (as 7 year olds are wont to do) because she immediately shushed me and told me we’d discuss it later. I don’t know that we ever did discuss it later, because there were so many plans for the entire Rose Bowl weekend and likely, the trip to Disneyland, the Rose Parade, the San Diego Zoo, etc… took precedence over the weird woman in blue.
I tell you all this because that was my only experience with someone trying to be “someone else” out in open daylight, so to speak, until really, my mid-20’s,
That’s not the case these days.
With a 24 hour news cycle running in the background on our TV’s, computers, smartphones, on the front pages of the tabloids at the grocery check-out, kids don’t have the same luxury of being naive even into their early teens. Eight year olds know about transgenders.
They have to think about this stuff, and question it, because it’s inescapable. Not like me, who had the leisure of mostly forgetting it all those years ago. The only reason I still remember it is because it was out of place. Kind of like that song on Sesame Street – “one of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn’t belong…” Today, the way society views it, it’s supposed to be normal, this reassignment of the parts of ourselves we don’t want to be. Because it’s supposed to be normal, it’s seemingly made its way into every part of culture. Places where children can’t be protected or naive about such things anymore.
Shouldn’t kids be busy just playing and imagining instead of learning about how someone “self-identifies” as other than what God intended them to be?
One thing that became clear to me the moment I became a parent was that I wanted my child to have a childhood. By that I mean that I wanted them to play in blanket forts, go outside and get lost on their bikes for hours. I wanted them to explore the woods behind our house with our dog, surreptitiously read under the covers after lights out, and laugh – and make me laugh – at really stupid jokes.
I didn’t want them to have to think about mortgages or being afraid to open their mouths because saying the word “jazz” might have racial connotations. I didn’t want them to have to think about the sexual identity of someone because it was everywhere all the time. Why couldn’t they just be kids watching cartoons on TV instead of having a sexual agenda pushed on them by the Disney Channel?
Why do kids have to be exposed to these things at an age when they should just be worried about the monsters under their bed or whether they’re going to be able to get their homework done in time to play before dinner? You know, like, well… kids.
Do they have to – need to – wonder or worry about being growing up to be something they weren’t born as? Shouldn’t they spend their growing up years learning to be the best THEM they can be?
I may not be a Harvard educated “somebody,” but surely common sense should count for something these days, especially when children are involved. Why aren’t we teaching our kids that only God can make a new being? We may be able to change the external packaging, but on the inside, our soul was, is and will always be the same. Unless… God, who created us, changes us.