Superheroes usually have alternate identities, to hide who they ‘really’ are, but in this very process, ‘who’ they are becomes obscured. One might answer: well, they are the identity with which they most ‘identify’. Even here, it still remains difficult to pinpoint who they are, deep down, in their heart of hearts. That is, likely, why they find it so difficult to find true love, for one must know oneself, to love another. Who is Superman: Kal-El, or Clark Kent? Spiderman, Peter Parker? Batman, Bruce Wayne?
Speaking of Bruces, a former all-American hero, Bruce Jenner, has now officially come out as transgendered in the recent edition of Vanity Fair, in an article, inaptly titled ‘Call Me Caitlin’. As a brand new ‘female’, he is pictured in a come-hither, swimsuit-nightie on the cover, the full details of which I will spare you (a head shot is below, or is that above?). Bruce/Caitlin’s Wikipedia entry is now replete with female pronouns, even when referring to Mr. Jenner’s past glory as the 1976 gold-medal winner of one of the most gruelling Olympic events, the Decathlon. But we may presume that he did not desire to be a woman back then, if such ‘desire’ is what makes one transgendered. Or, once a ‘transgender’ always so, even backwards in time? How often can this desire change? Can one morph from man to woman and back again multiple times per day, or do we limit it to yearly transitions?
I was a very young boy back then in the sevenites, a recent immigrant to Canada, but I recall Bruce Jenner, certainly a man, one synonymous with athletic grit, determination and success. This was in the very hottest part of the Cold War, and any usurpation of Olympic glory from the Russians, who would form their uber-athletes in virtual prison camps from childhood, ensured an American athlete instant secular hagiographical status. Bruce trained on his own while working as an insurance agent, making $9000 per year (this was in the time when they took the amateur status of the Olympics seriously). After his Olympic gold, he and his wife Kris became the premier American couple, and Bruce himself a role model to all young athletes of whatever variety. For when you win the Decathlon, you are good at everything.
I am not sure what happened to Bruce. Success, fame, isolation, insanity? After cashing in on his success in the 70’s via some badly-acted television, movies and endorsements (he was one of the original Wheaties heroes), he became famous again recently as the step-father of the famous (or, for most readers, infamous) Kardashians, who are the daughters of his current wife’s previous marriage to attorney Robert Kardashian (two of the daughters are Bruce’s own children…alas, you need not know that, nor anything else about the Kardashians; but anyone waiting in line at the grocery store cannot help but glance at the headlines of the rags on the racks, praying at times for momentary blindness).
In the midst of his multiple marriages and the highways and byways of his erratic life, Jenner, who claims to be a Christian (as well as a Republican), decided that he was really a woman. I must admit that I am rather amazed at what access to lots of money, top surgeons, as well as the photography and airbrushing of a top-tier magazine can do. Mark Steyn makes the case that Bruce should run against Hilary as President, if the American people are so hell-bent on electing a, ahem, female.
Sadly, attractive as he tries to make himself as a ‘transgender’, Bruce is still a man, for one’s sexuality is not just a function of the body, still less of the feelings, but of the person, a composite of body and soul, making one male or female. All the surgery, electrolysis, hair extensions and hormones, are, simply, an exotic and bizarre form of mutilation to make Bruce look like a woman. It is almost the definition of superficiality. As Steve Tyler of Aerosmith, himself no paragon of virtue, and turning sort of hag-like as he ages, the effects, one may presume of his woefully misspent youth and not of plastic surgery, well, as Mr. Tyler belted out, perhaps referring to himself, but just as well now applies to Bruce/Caitlin, Dude Looks like a Lady.
What a waste of medical expertise, and what a tragedy of a once-heroic life. Then again, as someone mentioned to me, perhaps this is all a ruse to get another spin-off reality show…
One way or the other, Bruce has forgotten who he is, and lost his identity. Where, oh where, is the real Bruce? The relative sanity of the 70’s seems so far away….
‘Call me Caitlin?’. No thanks. I’m fine with Bruce.
June 3, 2015
Saint Charles Lwanga and Companion Martyrs