As the world has heard, Caitlyn Jenner has made her long-awaited Vanity Fair debut. As she put it so simply and succinctly, “I am free.”
While she has allowed her story to unfold in the public eye, we should not forget that she is doing the public a service.
Caitlyn owes nobody an explanation for her feelings, her ideas, or her deepest, most inherent inclinations. She owes society no awareness of her struggle, nor insight into the workings of her mind.
She can operate on her own, as she has proven time and again, and she does not need our approval or our proverbial pats on the back.
None of us are required to find her attractive (here’s looking at you, dudes), but if we do I am certain she would take it in stride. What she deserves is respect — respect as a human, respect for her character, and respect for her generosity.
Caitlyn Jenner is doing society and the transgender community a great favor by addressing her innermost struggles publicly. She need not explain her childhood fantasies, her adolescent secrets, or her adult fears to any person, and yet she has philanthropically used her publicity to give light to an issue long shrouded in darkness. The wheels are turning with such rapidity to assure her very public transition will prove the most effective illuminator of this subject the world will see.
She owes us none of this, and yet she has taken the unabashed, and frankly, disgusting criticism and handled it with grace and dignity, courage and ambition. If nothing else — if we were to strip away every characteristic to reveal its bare minimum and render her Caitlyn in her plainest form — we cannot deny that she has backbone. I am grateful for Caitlyn Jenner, and for all people of her character, and I hope this public milestone inspires others who exist in constant apprehension to live freely.
Welcome to the world, Caitlyn, and rest assured, you are welcome here.