On the EDge: Glad to meet you, Caitlyn Jenner

OPINION – The media exploded Monday when Vanity Fair introduced Caitlyn Jenner to the world.

Caitlyn, as surely everybody on the planet must know by now, was once Bruce Jenner, the darling of the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, Canada, who set a world record in the decathlon, earning the title as the World’s Greatest Athlete.

Bruce is now a name for the record books, a piece of sports history.

Caitlyn is the name of a woman who I suspect will be remembered for her courage, honesty and determination to find the peace in her world that had been elusive for 64 years.

Bruce Jenner became a national hero, a household name, a role model. He trained eight hours a day to become the greatest decathlete in the world and sold insurance by night to pay the bills.

But, that’s nothing when compared with what Caitlyn endured every waking moment of every day, keeping a secret most would carry to their grave.

Caitlyn introduced herself to the world Monday via a startling photograph taken by the masterful photographer, Annie Leibovitz.

There was an outpouring of love and support when the photo hit the streets. There was also the predictable backlash.

A lot of commentary centered on Caitlyn’s physical appearance, with the word “gorgeous” used many times to describe her look.

It’s time to stop being so superficial, however, and realize what has occurred here.

We have just seen a man give up his very public persona in exchange for a radically different one that is difficult to understand. As they say on Facebook, it’s complicated. That’s why it is OK to admit to being a little confused by all of this. It is a very complex issue, one that is very difficult to understand that goes way beyond the simple explanation of Jenner having been a woman trapped inside of a man’s body.

It’s just not that simple, not when you realize the ignorance that prevails when we go beneath the skin and try to figure out what makes us all tick. Best I can figure is that for all the things that we have in common as humans sharing this life, there are many more that we cannot even begin to comprehend that make us the widely unique people we are.

Sometimes, admitting who and what we are is not only uncomfortable, but dangerous, especially in these days when sexual orientation and preference have become a battleground between warring political and religious factions.

The Jenner story should open some eyes, or at least provoke honest discussion, I hope.

Vanity Fair not only published the first photographs of Caitlyn Jenner, but also snippets from its story, written by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Buzz Bissinger, which will appear in VF’s July edition, available on newsstands June 9.

It is a revelatory and intriguing piece, from what I’ve read so far, that will unquestionably be shocking to some because of its candor. We have become so accustomed to spin, so overwhelmed with hyperbole, so inundated with the trite and mundane that a journalistic piece of this magnitude, depth and context will, hopefully, right the unsteady media ship that has floundered on the rocks for too long now.

It is a story that matters.

It matters because of the number of people who hide who they are for fear of being shunned by a greater society that has little tolerance or understanding of a world that is far more complex than their own, narrow worldview.

It matters because it is relative to our time when we spend so much energy on being judgmental of others because of their race, creed or gender.

It matters, most of all, because it just may help others who are seeking the support, the example, the courage to become who they truly are. So many of these troubled souls endure lives of desperation or end their time on this good Earth prematurely.

“If I was lying on my deathbed and I had kept this secret and never ever did anything about it, I would be lying there saying, ‘You just blew your entire life. You never dealt with yourself,’ and I don’t want that to happen,” Jenner tells Bissinger in the VF story.

Bruce Jenner was a macho guy.

He was the World’s Greatest Athlete, he was a race car driver, appeared on the cover of the Wheaties box, was considered to play Superman until Christopher Reeve got the nod.

He received the 1976 James E. Sullivan Award as the top amateur athlete in the United States; the 1976 Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year award; and was inducted into the Olympic Hall of Fame in 1986, the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame and the Connecticut Sports Hall of Fame in 1994, the United States National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1980 and the San Jose Sports Hall of Fame in 2010.

We don’t know much yet about who Caitlyn Jenner is, what she will accomplish, who she will become.

We get a glimpse of Caitlyn in the VF story, of course, and she will make her first public appearance on July 15 when she will be presented with the prestigious Arthur Ashe Courage Award during ESPN’s ESPY Awards presentations.

The award bears the name of one of the sports world’s true gentlemen, who was not only an incredible athlete but a civil rights pioneer, who became the first black player to play for the U.S. Davis Cup Team and the only black man ever to win the singles title at the U.S. Open and Australian Open tournaments, as well as at Wimbledon.

That’s a lot to live up to.

But, Bruce Jenner was always up for a challenge, saying during the 1976 Olympics: “It hurts every day when you practice hard. Plus, when this decathlon is over, I got the rest of my life to recuperate. Who cares how bad it hurts?”

Hopefully, the hurt is over and Caitlyn will live the rest of her life as she wishes.

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Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

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  • JOSH DALTON June 2, 2015 at 9:03 am

    Why are we featuring this story? I am worried about the direction our society is progressing. We have reached the day and age that somebodies sexual fetish has reached national news. Not only that we are putting the information on the cover of magazines. I thought it was pushing the envelope when the LGBT community wanted equal rights. Again LGBT is a sexual fetish not a national debate. At least the polygamist use religion to support there argument. So if we as a society are going to allow some then why not all. Are we as people going to allow underage girls and guys to hook up with folks that are over 18 years of age. “How old is 15 really” Maybe we should ask R.Kelly!

    • Joyce Kuzmanic June 2, 2015 at 9:43 am

      This is an opinion column, Josh, not a feature story. Columnists tend to talk about issues and stories that emerge here and there; this can offer opportunity for consideration and conversation on a topic.
      Make sense? 🙂
      ST. GEORGE NEWS | StGeorgeNews.com
      Joyce Kuzmanic
      Editor in Chief

      • 42214 June 2, 2015 at 10:44 am

        Opinions are like rectums, everyone has one but you don’t need to show it. A true philanthropist gives anonymously. Most give to draw attention to how generous they are. Why can’t Caitlyn deal with her issues privately. I’ll tell you why, because there is no money in it for her that way. She is making a fortune with this shallow reality TV lifestyle and making a spectacle of herself. This is like the gay pride parades in San Francisco that was nothing more than a freak show that set gay rights back 25 yrs. She wants to have large breasts and a penis that’s her business. I just think there are more important “opinion” pieces out there to talk about. Also, who is the LA County DA going to prosecute for vehicular manslaughter, Bruce or Caitlyn? This could be double jeopardy.

        • BIG GUY June 2, 2015 at 1:11 pm

          42214 and I often see things differently, but in this case we’re on the same page. Celebrities make spectacles of themselves by doing all sorts of strange things; this is one more of the same. This is NOT “…a story that matters.” Ed’s opinions could apply to anyone who feels they let an opportunity go by that might have changed their life. This story attracts attention only because it relates to the progressive left’s cause du jour: inventing new LGBT “rights” while dismissing the rights of others as bigotry or insensitivity. What’s next, Ed, taxpayer-funded sex change operations for all who want “…to become who they truly are?”

          • wilbur June 2, 2015 at 7:25 pm

            Well, at least we didn’t hang him from his heels, or throw him off the building. We only do that to bakers who resist baking him a cake.

        • Simone June 4, 2015 at 11:07 pm

          42214, Why is it that you can’t seem to keep your opinions to yourself? Your opinion is like the history of the Mormon “church”; filled with hate, ignorance, betrayal, fascism and rampant inbreeding.

      • mrsmith June 2, 2015 at 10:53 am

        In other words.. Joyce needed some clicks for advertising.
        I am glad, though, that STG news doesn’t filter controversial opinions or stories. Other outlets, eh hem KSL, tend to bias their views in their normal featured stories and can disparage their news. I feel STG has presented a fair and un-bias portfolio even if I disagree with the content on occasion.

        • sagemoon June 2, 2015 at 11:08 am

          I agree with you, MrSmith.

    • dguble20 June 2, 2015 at 10:21 am

      It is not a sexual fetish it is some ones identity and how they feel on the inside and who are you to decide what is right and wrong. you are not god and only he will judge. nothing about this story is sexualized and if you read anything about this story you would see that he has not changed his sexual organs (he still has the male parts) she is just being who she really truly feels she is. The fact that you could even try to relate this to polygamy where they are marrying “multiple” underage girls is ridiculous they are not even in the same category or even legal.

      • 42214 June 2, 2015 at 10:46 am

        If we’re all created in God’s image, what part of He/She is transgender?

        • Simone June 4, 2015 at 1:18 pm

          Have you ever considered the possibility that God is neither entirely man or woman?

  • Brian June 2, 2015 at 10:16 am

    So first we’re supposed to stay out of other peoples bedrooms and sexuality because its personal and private, and then we’re supposed to talk about it ad nauseam and celebrate the courage. Which is it?

  • wilbur June 2, 2015 at 10:58 am

    Look for the White Hut invitation for this weirdo guy in three, two, one…..hard to say who’s likely more interested in him, Barry or Moose)

  • Knot June 2, 2015 at 11:31 am

    I don’t usually have a problem with ones sexual preference, especially since some folks are born with both male and female reproductive parts. This tells me that the body may look one way but be another and a body may not be as perfect as people think. I’m no expert so who am I to say what is right and wrong.
    I will say however in this story about Jenner, it seems to smack of sensationalism. Probably because of the Kardashians, the whole family seems messed up and only live for the media. They have shown they will do anything for money and fame, even bad fame. Therefore it’s hard to look at this as anything but shock and awe to garner fame and fortune. It would be sad if Jenner has really had this issue all his life and now his affiliation with his family make it look cheap and tawdry, but that’s the way the family has set up their lives.

    • anybody home June 2, 2015 at 4:52 pm

      I think you have to take a look at the magazine itself and advertisers who are making a lot of money from this. They’ll sell out the issue in a heartbeat. And the story is the wrong story in many ways…there are hundreds of other transgender people out there without money or other resources who are fighting to keep their jobs and live their lives. Caitlyn Jenner has none of their problems and little in common with them beyond being transgendered. If her story brings wider acceptance, good for her. If it makes other transgendered people’s lives more difficult, not so good.

      • Simone June 4, 2015 at 1:35 pm

        Im going to be honest I don’t se how this can hurt transgendered people in the long run. A perfect example is gay marriage, it has been legal in Utah for a while now and the world has not only not come to an end but it is actually improving from where it was a couple of years ago. Think about this, not 10 years ago we had the same people in the state legislature and many of them swore to Monson that they would NEVER support anti discrimination legislation for LGBT people(at the cost of MILLIONS of dollars) but not even a year ago (after Mr. Monson changed his mind on the subject) many of those same people were breaking out the fake tears saying they always wanted it. My point is simple; knowledge is power and the more LGBT people are publicized, the more acceptance they will get from the community at large because that community will realize that LGBT people aren’t so bad after all.

  • me2u June 2, 2015 at 12:28 pm

    it matters because, sadly, some feel no choice but to lean toward suicide.

  • NotSoFast June 2, 2015 at 5:01 pm

    I’m confused. I was once told that Bruce Jenner was a person to look up to because of his athleticism and his Wheaties cereal box awards.
    Now it’s because of his gorgeous, well formed breast?
    I think I’ll pass thank you.

  • 42214 June 2, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    Finally, Caitlyn is paying for her public spectacle. Just heard on ESPN that she has been banned from the Men’s Grill at fashionable Sherwood Country Club in So Cal. Who says there aren’t consequences for our actions.

  • mesaman June 2, 2015 at 7:11 pm

    I wish to offer my condolences to Bruce. He was quite a superhuman Now, to paraphrase the great Jimmy Durante; “good night Mrs Calabash, WHATEVER you are”.

  • Ladyk June 2, 2015 at 7:22 pm

    I don’t care what name you decide to be called by or what body parts you want to implant or have removed or what clothes you wear. As humans were born with either a XX or an XY chromosomes. Bruce Jenner wasn’t born a female and hasn’t been made into one just because he wants to. HE will always be a he. That however doesn’t mean he can’t wear female clothing and change his appearance so he looks female. That is his choice. We all make choices. The problem for me comes in his insistence to be called a “she/her”. If you are really being true to yourself then just live the truth. I would have much more respect for him if he would be a man who prefers to dress and act like a woman. Don’t try to all of a sudden say you are a woman when no matter what you do you will never ever be one. I am proud to be a woman and frankly I kind of resent someone who thinks fake breasts or putting on a black dress can change him into one. He is beautiful though, but I always thought he was to begin with.

    • Simone June 4, 2015 at 1:37 pm

      So what baout people born with XXY, XYX, XXX or any other combination of chromosomes? what are they?

  • farrago June 2, 2015 at 7:48 pm

    I self identify as the Queen of England – and I demand that everyone ignore reality and validate my mental illness by playing into my delusions!

  • eddantes56 June 2, 2015 at 8:32 pm

    So you want an honest discussion Ed. Bruce Jenner is a male. He has an XY chromosome, bestowed upon him by nature. In his mind, he may identify as a female but he is not/not a female. As discussed above, he is coming out publicly for the financial gain and possibly to further the “mainstreaming” of this illness. And however you cut it, Bruce Jenner is ill. Mentally? emotioally? I don’t know his background well enough to diagnose him.He needs treatment because he is in fact a man with all of the accompanying parts. No mattter how much money he spends to change his physical appearance, he will always be a man.

  • Roy J June 3, 2015 at 9:51 am

    Sporus and Nero, as chronicled by the Roman historian Suetonius in ‘Lives of the Twelve Caesars’. That’s how the long run history will remember this sort of epoch.

  • hb bev June 3, 2015 at 10:22 am

    Candor beats spin seven days of the week

  • SeniorFun June 3, 2015 at 7:37 pm

    Anyone who has truly embraced the role of a parent realizes that once that baby is here, you’ve crossed a point of no return. And a real father wouldn’t look back.

    The greatest title and accomplishment I will ever have is that of being a father. My kids have known since they looked at me from day one that I was, am, and always will be there protector, advisor, etc…and that they can always know that their dad will be there for them, just like he always has been no matter how old they are. I’m sure most fathers out there would say the same.

    Bruce Jenner can say that he’s kept secrets and struggled and even suffered, but thanks to [Nature, God, Science: pick one] he has lived as man as because of this he has had the honor of representing the U.S., he’s been pretty financially comfortable for the most part, he’s a father and grand father…and two of his daughters many consider the most beautiful girls in the world. He’s tossed all that away for himself.

    Who will walk his daughters down the aisle? Who should show his daughters what respect looks like from a gentleman? Maybe he has suffered, but maybe it’s him that has the problem all these years, not that his “naturally assigned gender” was wrong.

    Caitlyn Jenner is like a toupee, people will act like it looks good, but we all know what’s really underneath.

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