This is the picture that greeted me yesterday morning on every single news site I visited at 6 am. This was big news. The man whose Sports Illustrated cover photo once graced the walls of my bedroom in 1976 has been reborn as "Caitlyn" and lionized by none other than Annie Leibovitz.
I am told by sophisticates that what the former decathlete has done is "brave." Mrz Jenner her-himself has spoken of how he-she finally feels free, that for the first time in his-her life isn't living a lie. The fact that this picture is on the cover of Vanity Fair purportedly says something about our evolving culture, the chattering classes intone. The photographic talents of Ms. Leibovitz have at least saved us from the ghastly decision of whether to place "Caitlyn" on the cover of Playboy or Playgirl.
For men of a certain age, the spectacle of seeing perhaps the greatest American athlete of the past fifty years wearing a silk camisole is deeply unsettling. I count myself among this unsettled group. I harbor no ill-will towards Bruce-Caitlin. I want everyone to be happy. I can't imagine what it must have been like to train for the decathlon all the while hating yourself for being in a man's body. That's an existence that I wouldn't wish upon my worst enemy. But, why must all of this truly amazing plastic surgery be proclaimed to the world below the masthead of Vanity Fair magazine? Herein lies the difficulty that I have. It seems like suddenly, irretrievably, we have decided to celebrate things that, historically speaking, fifteen minutes ago we prescribed therapy for. You can either view this phenomenon as some sort of supercharged burst of sublime progressive evolution, or you can worry that we have gone stark-raving mad. Seriously, who among us a mere twenty years ago would have thought that this sort of thing would get the sort of fawning treatment it has gotten today? A brave new world we have.
So, I wish Bruce-Caitlyn the best and hope for him-her that the remaining years of his-her life provide the happiness that he-she has been denied.
One nagging question remains...I wonder why he chose to spell his new name with a "C" rather than the trademark "K" of his famous reality television family?