It wasn’t so long ago when Caitlyn Jenner brought me to tears. Now she just bores me to tears.
I didn’t watch the ESPY gala from Tinseltown on Wednesday night, in part because I find most awards shows to be bling-is-the-thing exercises in excess, much like Hollywood itself, but also due to the fact Jenner would be receiving the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage.
To be clear, I have no quarrel with Jenner being saluted for her courage in transitioning from Bruce Jenner to Caitlyn.
There are many layers to courage. Marching off to war takes courage. Racing into a burning building to save a life takes courage. Smiling in the face of a terminal illness takes courage. But being true to one’s self can also take courage. Any out gay person can tell you that, because they have faced and conquered the fear. It is a different level of courage, to be certain, but it often contains a life-and-death element.
So, sure, give Jenner the Ashe Award. Bravo.
It’s just that the Jenner story seems so contrived. So publicity driven. So—dare I say it?—tabloidish trashy. That’s the other reason I didn’t watch.
Alas, there was no escaping Jenner this morning. At every turn I took on the internet, there was Caitlyn in her white, floor-length, form-hugging Atelier Versace frock, her $3,485 emerald, tear-drop earrings and her swept-to-one-side coif, all the handiwork of noted La La Land stylist Jen Rade, who has been known to run her fingers through Angelina Jolie’s mane. There were also many style-over-substance headlines, because that’s what it has been all about for Jenner since she appeared on the cover and in the pages of Vanity Fair in June.
Indeed, in introducing Jenner as recipient of the Ashe Award, American lesbian soccer star Abby Wambach described the former Olympic decathlon champion as “stunning.”
Good grief, she isn’t a transgender advocate. She’s a photo op.
Surely, though, there must be more to her than glitz and glam and Vanity Fair. Well, isn’t there?
Oh, sure, Jenner’s acceptance speech has been described as passionate. Powerful. Stirring. Emotional. Moving. Inspiring. She talked about accepting people for who they are. She told us that transgender youth are being bullied, beaten, murdered and commiting suicide, all things the aforementioned Wambach had already referenced in her intro remarks. She told us that transgender people deserve respect and that she will “do whatever I can to reshape the landscape of how transgender people are viewed and treated.”
Yadda, yadda, yadda, yawn. For me, it was nothing more than the spewing of bromides that were cliched in tone and delivered by a multi-millionaire attention-hog who, no more than five months ago, cared so little about the transgender collective that she had never reached out to anyone in the very community that she now purports to champion.
To this point in time, Caitlyn Jenner has brought nothing new to the transgender discussion, other than a surgically adjusted face (cost: $70,000), a new set of boobs (cost: $10,000) and an annoyingly odd voice (if you’re going to spend 70 large on the face and another 10 large on the boobs, you’d think you’d dip into the piggy bank for some spare change for voice lessons or vocal cord surgery).
But aside from her painfully obvious style-over-substance platform, here’s where I’m having even greater difficulty with Jenner: Her true confession.
“Before a few months ago, I had never met anybody else who was trans, who was like me,” she admitted. “I had never met a trans person, never.”
I believe we can file that revelation under ‘S’ for shocking.
I mean, let’s think about this. In her first 64 years on the Third Rock from the Sun, Jenner had not met a transgender person. Not one. Yet, after wearing a dress for less than two months, she now props herself up as a champion of the cause? And many people are drinking the Kool-Aid. They’re calling her a transgender role model. A transgender icon. A transgender heroine, as The Guardian once described her.
That’s beyond appalling. It’s insulting.
Caitlyn Jenner is a Jill-come-lately to the cause of equal rights for the LGBT collective and, as much as I welcome any voice to the crusade, it won’t be until she can actually speak from life experience that I might listen to something she has to say.
In the meantime, since her very public ‘outing’ with Diane Sawyer on ABC last spring, a soul-baring gambit which, for me, was very emotional, she has shown me just one thing: What money can buy.