Monday, July 20, 2015

My Two Cents: Caitlyn Jenner & Anti-Trans Humor [?]

Transgender is funny, y’all; it’s a joke. I mean, a sixty-something guy, a former Olympian, slaps on a dress and we’re all supposed to be accepting and understanding at the freak show?

Even Mike Huckabee gets it, saying he wished he could just switch genders back in high school so he could watch the girls shower; it’s a joke, right? And, Huckabee said, being trans is nothing to be proud of, or to celebrate, or accept.

It simply deserves belittling, the idea that someone can be transgender. Oh, but then add to that the idea that the trans person is somehow a hero? Oh, hell no.

See? isn't transphobia fun? Of course it isn't, but that isn't stopping people ...

It’s been a couple of years that people have been speculating about then-Bruce Jenner; I mean, he had surgery on his face and suddenly looked decidedly more feminine; he’d ALLEGEDLY — though we now know it to be true — had surgery to shave down his Adam’s Apple. Was Bruce transgender? Let’s all make jokes about it ….

Then Bruce did transition, but before doing so completely he gave one last incredible interview to Diane Sawyer, chronicling his struggle with gender dysphoria, chronicling his struggle with trying to match how he looked on the outside with how he felt on the inside; chronicling his decision to simply stop hiding who he, soon-to-be she, was, and live a more open life.

And then the jokes really rolled in … and the anger and hate … when it was announced by ESPN that now-Caitlyn Jenner would be the recipient of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPY awards this year.

And while those more narrow-minded and hateful among us because spreading rumors about why the ESPY producers chose Caitlyn, let’s make one thing clear: ESPY producers never had a “second place” or another pick for the courage award. Caitlyn Jenner was their first and only choice.

But that didn’t stop people from wondering why others had been overlooked, such as veteran and double amputee Gregory Gadson. And soon these transphobic people began spreading a meme on social media, a side-by-side photo comparison of then-Bruce Jenner versus Gregory Gadson with this message:
“One man traded 2 legs for the freedom of the other to trade 2 balls for 2 boobs. Guess which man made the cover of Vanity Fair, was praised for his courage by President Obama and is to be honored with the ‘Arthur Ashe Courage Award’ by ESPN?” 
Lovely, yes? And it spread and spread because it’s easier to make fun of things, and people, you don’t understand than opening your mind and brain to something you’d never thought about before. And what galls me most of all are the ALLEGEDLY reasonable thinking folks who reposted this idiotic meme, like Lone Survivor and Battleship director, Peter Berg, who added this caption to the photo:

“Yep”

Luckily, or unluckily for Berg, some people, those rational thinkers among us, were tired of the hate and the transphobia and the general bigotry of those memes and began calling out people like Peter Berg, who then issued his own walk-back apology of sorts:
“I have the utmost respect for Caitlyn Jenner and I am a strong supporter of equality and the rights of trans people everywhere. I also believe that we don’t give enough attention to our courageous returning war veterans, many of whom have sacrificed their bodies and mental health for our country and our principals ... principals that include the freedom to live the life you want to live without persecution or abuse.”
Okay, so you’re a supporter of veterans; but why denigrate Caitlyn Jenner to support your cause? Why turn something that had to have been the most difficult decision of her entire life into a joke about balls and boobs? Ignorance; idiocy; stupidity; and the idea that one doesn’t need to think before speaking, or posting. Caitlyn Jenner is courageous; our US soldiers and veterans are courageous, too. We can recognize and honor one person’s courage without denigrating and belittling another for their bravery.

And, before I go on, Peter Berg is still an asshole, let’s be clear about that. After his half-hearted apology, Berg kept that hateful meme posted on Instagram for several more days until he removed it because, well, stupid.

But Peter Berg isn’t alone; let’s toss some D.L. Hughley into the mix; Hughley, a comedian who, after sporting a pair of black-rimmed glasses fancies himself a political and social commentator with an albeit limited world-view.

In an on-air interview with TMZ, Hughley insulted Caitlyn Jenner with a series of childish jokes and ridiculous attempts at humor.

"She is a beautiful woman, isn't she?" the TMZ cameraman asked.

"No." Hughley replied, and then continued.
“In a Miss Doubtfire kind of way. Stop it.”
Hughley then added that Jenner "looks like very P.E. teacher I've ever had."

And Hughley is not only standing by his idiotic remarks, he’s doubling down on them. On Saturday, he Tweeted a photo showing Caitlyn Jenner at the ESPYs alongside a photo of Robin Williams as his title character in Mrs. Doubtfire.
"Somebody tell me I'm wrong #TeamDL."
Okay, I will. There is nothing at all similar about a person who has been struggling with gender dysphoria, struggling for over sixty years to live her true life, damn the consequences and the jokes, and then chooses honesty, and a man who dresses up in women’s clothes, in a movie, so he can see his children who are living with his estranged wife.

Apparently, D.L. you cannot see the difference between a film comedy and someone’s real life, so it’s best if you sit down, take off the horn rims, and stop acting like you’re an expert on anything other than insulting remarks and transphobic comments.

But, of course, he doesn’t sit down; he then speaks about Arthur Ashe, the first and only black man to win the singles title at Wimbledon, and a man who died in 1993 from AIDS-related complications. Hughley calls Ashe a "symbol of courage."
"He fought AIDS with dignity and honor and Caitlyn Jenner put on a dress. I don't think it's the same thing."
It’s the exact same thing.

Arthur Ashe died of AIDS at a time when it was still considered something sick and sinful, but Ashe gave a face to AIDS; he made people see that anyone, even an athlete, could contract AIDS.

And like Ashe, Caitlyn Jenner, has put  a face to transgender and made people, at least some of us who aren’t living in a cave somewhere, see that transgender isn’t something sick or sinful, and that anyone, even an athlete, could be trans.

But Hughley just wants to make jokes because, when people, are fearful and frightened and ignorant, they use humor and bad, bigoted jokes to cover their stupidity.

So we have man who thinks Caitlyn isn’t as courageous and a war veteran, and a man who thinks Caitlyn is just a man in a dress, which is not brave at all.

But what about a real soldier? What would a soldier say to these two men about Caitlyn Jenner and courage?

The night that Jenner gave that amazing speech at the ESPYs the internet was flooded with supportive messages and praise for her struggle and her acceptance and her strength in finally becoming herself. And, neutrally, that praise brought out the haters with their own special brand of vitriol.

And that brought out the comments of Joey Vicente, a 23-year-old behavioral health specialist in the US Army:
"Your negative opinions on Caitlyn Jenner and her deservedness of an award that you didn’t even know about until a few days ago are irrelevant. Your definition of what or who a hero can or cannot be is irrelevant. 40% of the transgender community have attempted suicide. What if I told you that her speech last night saved even one human being from attempting to take their life? I’d call that a victory on any scale. I’d call that (gasp)… heroic?"
And that’s what it boils down to; if one person, struggling with gender dysphoria, decided that, after listening to Caitlyn speak, not to take his or her own life, then her stepping out of the shadows and into the light, as her true self, speaking her truth, would be one of is the most courageous step of all.

And for Caitlyn to tell all the haters, who seeks to ridicule her as some kind of freak, who transitioned for fame of publicity or a TV show, or because she’s mentally ill, or whatever, to direct all their vile, disgusting remarks and hate at her, and stay away from the younger people struggling with their gender identity, then that also counts as courage.

What is not courageous is making a joke, or posting a meme, or saying that Caitlyn Jenner is a man in a dress.

She’s so much more than that, and so much more than people like Peter Berg and D.L. Hughley can every hope to be.
Gay Star News
Caitlyn Jenner Photo
Peter Berg Photo
DL Hughley Photo
Joey Vincente photo

11 comments:

the dogs' mother said...

Joey Vicente :-) xoxoxo

mistress maddie said...

And like in her speech." If you want to call me names, make jokes, and questions my intentions, go ahead, because the reality is I can take it." That just shows her courage. She shouldn't have to take though. That's a strong person there.

KEVolution! said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
KEVolution! said...

let's try this again...:)one of the best commentaries I've read. i honestly couldn't have compiled a more accurate and wonderful post. if its okay with you, i would love to repost on the lisp.the level of hate spewed on her Instagram is insane. there are SO many people comparing her courage to that of a military person. i could only read a few -- why do i read them at all?? This award is given to ATHLETES from a SPORTS network, named after someone in SPORTS. Did anyone get their backs up when Caitlyn wasn't awarded a Purple Heart? NO...because she didn't serve. Men and women like Noah Galloway and Tammy Duckworth, my aunt who died of cancer My best friend who is acrophobic went zip-lining; these people are all courageous...and so is Caitlyn.

Helen Lashbrook said...

Courage comes in many different forms, why denigrate any of them?

Bob Slatten said...

@KEVolution
Please feel free to share it. And thank you!

Sadie J said...

The negative memes on FB got to me yesterday and I went off on my "friends" in a similar rant. The nicest thing was a message this morning from an old friend of mine that I haven't seen since college who thanked me and admitted he's gay. I suspected it but never was sure. The fact that he told me means a lot.

Bob Slatten said...

@Sadie
And that's how we stop this kind of "humor," by calling it out for the offensiveness that it is!

anne marie in philly said...

(stands up and applauds bob's post)

Bob Slatten said...

@AM
Aw shucks, ma'am, t'weren't nuthin'!

Professor Chaos said...

I've really been baffled by this ESPY uproar. Like people are actually upset because the award wasn't given to some soldier? It's a sports award! Honestly, wouldn't be insulting to give a sports award to someone who is risking his life for his country, as if that is a sport? And yes, I know they're really risking their lives to pad Halliburton's profits, but I'm sure they believe that they are serving their country. And to giving an ESPY to someone who's earned a medal of honor seems like a slap in the face.

Caitlyn Jenner is a sports figure that displayed great courage. What's the controversy?