Wednesday, July 22, 2015

TransJenner – The Bruce Jenner / Caitlyn Jenner Controversy and What We Need to Understand

We have a habit of assigning categories to people. The way we perceive them to be is the label we assign to them, whether or not we are correct in our presumptions. And they’d better fit our perceptions of them or we’ll cast those traitors aside, or even worse, crucify them!

How dare anybody fall outside what we believe to be reality! The way we grew up most likely defines us in our early years, whether we grew up Catholic, Muslim, atheist, agnostic, or some other way. And, as a result of our upbringing, too many people believe that anybody who doesn’t belong doesn’t deserve to exist on the same planet as they do. 

And though we supposedly mature, many of us never question our upbringing and we blindly pass on our beliefs to future generations. Why question anything, even if we feel our brows crossing in confusion, when questioning nothing is so much easier than having to think for ourselves? 

The divisiveness between this religion and that religion, between this political party and that political party, between this sexual preference and that sexual preference, has become so tiresome to me that I cannot understand why so many people hate so many other people, merely because they are different! I really am very tired of all the haters out there who hate either because they learned from their parents or teachers how to hate or because they were so used to having others think for them that they were – and are – incapable of thinking for themselves.

Ask some of these haters why they hate, and you’ll hear, “Because I just do.” Or you’ll hear, “That should be obvious.” The “I just do” groups will take you on an endless loop of “I just do”’s every time you ask why, and you’ll never learn the real reason (because they don’t really have one) why they “just do.” The “that should be obvious” groups, when you ask, “what’s so obvious?” taunt you with derisive comments to let you know that you are supremely stupid for even asking the question.

Well, here’s what I want to know. Upon what do you haters base your beliefs? Were your beliefs handed down from generation to generation and you adopted them because you felt you had to believe what your parents believed? Or were you too afraid to think for yourselves? Does anything in the history of you back up your reasons for your beliefs?

I’ll be honest, I had absolutely no understanding of transgenders. Nobody I knew was transgender and nobody I had ever met was transgender. As a matter of fact I never knew they existed until the mid-1970s. And the only way I learned about transgenders was because an endocrinologist from the hospital where I worked wanted to explain to those of us who made appointments for various clinics at the University of Chicago, how the transgender process worked. 

In addition to seeing an endocrinologist (for hormone therapy), future transgenders had to also see a psychiatrist and a surgeon, and transgender individuals had to convince all of those doctors that they firmly believed they were born into the wrong body. If the potential transgender individual could convince all doctors that he or she was in the wrong body, the doctors would begin the transition. 

Imagine looking at yourself in the mirror – every day – every day of your life – and seeing an image that feels foreign to you. Though your anatomy tells you that you belong to one sex, your mind and spirit feel that you are supposed to be the opposite sex. 

For a period of time, when I was around 11 or 12, I thought I looked like a boy and I hated myself (for more reasons than just looking like a boy). Though I didn’t know it at the time, I suffered from a type of body dysmorphic disorder that caused me to see myself in a very negative and disturbing light. Every time I looked in the mirror, I saw a boy looking back at me and I hated him. I thought that I looked masculine and ugly.

Nothing about my body looked feminine to me. I was flat-chested and I felt undeserving of affection or attention. I also didn’t feel loved. I was tall for my age, too, the tallest kid among all 6th graders in my school – yes, even taller than the tallest boy – and I was disproportionately skinny. At 5’3” I weighed only 63 pounds. Though my bones were tiny, and under my legs sat a pair of Barbie doll feet, the way I felt about the way I looked was so wracked with insecurity, I was depressed and suicidal all the time.

Like many insecure people, I hated myself. But don’t get me wrong – never once did I want to be a boy or feel that I was a boy – I just thought I looked too much like a boy that I thought I would never look feminine, and that was not the image of myself that I wanted to present to the world. 

Maybe that’s why I have so much compassion and empathy for Caitlyn Jenner. If I awoke each day feeling as if I was in the wrong body, I couldn’t imagine living a lie 365 days a year for 64 years – just to please everyone else. 

Depression and suicidal thoughts, though, are not reasons for changing sex. But feeling that you are a member of the opposite sex and having felt that way since you were a child might just be one of those things doctors look for when determining whether or not you might be a candidate for a sex change. 

But why is somebody else’s personal challenge any of our business? Why are we so consumed with what others do and why do we feel the need to mock people who don’t fit our definitions of what a “real man” or “real woman” is supposed to look like? I see so many people crying out to everyone who doesn’t fit their image of what everyone else should be like, look like, or act like, “DON’T be YOU! Be what WE want you to be!” 

Every shade of skin color, from the palest white to the darkest black exists on this planet. The shapes of our faces, features, and body sizes differ. Our interests differ as well. But, unless we were born with body deformities, we all have two arms, two legs, two eyes, two ears, one nose, one mouth, and one heart. Some of our interests are similar, too. So in some ways, we are also the same.

Why do we feel the need to hurt people for being different? Does our incessant need to shame others result because we feel embarrassed by them or because we feel uncomfortable with them? Seems to me that our discomfort is based on things we don’t understand and don’t want to understand.

Macho dad has a son who prefers music to sports. Dainty mom has a little girl who would rather play baseball and basketball than Barbies. Mom and Dad feel uncomfortable with their offspring, so they do everything in their power to change their children, instead of learning how to appreciate the beautiful human beings they brought into this world. 

What many people don’t understand is that by pushing others to be someone he or she is not, we bully that little boy and that little girl. And by judging people who live their lives in accordance to the way they want to live their lives, we bully them with our condemnation of them through our words and the way we look at them. Our forceful bullying backs these kids into corners where the only way out is through denying who they really are and hating themselves because they’re not allowed to be themselves.

We can guide our children, and they will follow if we are leading them down the path to themselves, but if we bully them down a path that takes them so far away from themselves they feel lost and alone, we hurt their chances of ever being successful and happy. We should all want to experience joy in our own lives and we should want our sons and daughters to feel joyful too! By taking away parts of themselves they enjoy, we literally take the joy out of their lives.

So much of what goes on in this world is a mystery to me, but I won’t jump on any bandwagons to promote my beliefs just to be popular with others who agree with the common consensus (or more accurately common misperceptions). Why can’t we look beyond the little box we’ve placed ourselves into and really see the world, not as we want to see it, but as it really is.

What I think needs to happen is for all of us to develop compassion and empathy for whatever we don’t understand. And we need to understand that we don’t need to understand everything. But we do need to appreciate that our fellow human beings may be interested in things that differ from our own interests and that different isn’t code for dangerous, toxic, or evil.

One person erects buildings, another designs them, while another sells them, and still another repurposes them. One person creates fabric and yarn, while another designs patterns for using that fabric or yarn, and still another weaves that yarn or sews that fabric. We can’t possibly do everything ourselves, unless of course, we want to live so simply we are able to pitch a tent and we know how to live off the land.

For me, because I can’t do everything by myself and because I prefer to live indoors, I appreciate builders, plumbers, electricians, carpet layers, furniture makers, machinists, computer programers, herbalists, scientists, auto mechanics, crafters, artists, musicians, and writers, because most of them are different from me, and they know how to do things I don’t know how to do or don’t want to take the time to learn. And yet, in many ways, they are also the same.  

Over the many years I’ve lived, I’ve learned to appreciate – and embrace – differences. I’ve come to understand that we all come into this world with a variety of talents and abilities. And we all come into this world with a sense of ourselves. Though we may not be aware of what we bring with us into this life, I also firmly believe we all have a purpose. Some people make it their mission to destroy our souls, and, without them being aware of the destruction they cause, they also destroy themselves and the world in which we live.

How much better all of our lives would be if we would just learn to encourage and support each other in ways that would benefit each other and this Earth. We are often blind to truth because we’ve learned lies for so long, we embrace them out of habit. Over the centuries, many men and women have been tortured because their beliefs differed from what everyone expected them to believe. How many people tormented scientists who believed our Earth was round when everybody insisted it was flat? How much of what we are learning today will be proven to be incorrect in the future?

We are so bigoted and filled with so many prejudices. We think we are more intelligent than those who argue with us. We forget – or maybe we choose to ignore – what love really means. We need to open our minds to all the possibilities around us, and we need to learn how to truly love each other!

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.

Proverbs 26:12 Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

Bible quotes came from Open Bible

UPDATE: Just read an amazing article entitled, Anti-Intellectualism and the "Dumbing Down" of America: There is a growing anti-intellectual dumbing down of our culture. Maybe our lack of intelligence is contributing to our lack of compassion and empathy. 


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