*Please note that this article is an opinion-editorial.
“Call me Caitlynn,” was the headline on the cover of Vanity Fair reintroducing Olympic Medalist turned reality star Bruce Jenner to society after his transition into a woman. Accompanying the much-repeated headline, a glamour shot of Caitlynn by famed celebrity photographer Annie Liebowitz.
Transgender people have been more and more in the news for quite some time now, with parents dealing with their young children’s struggle with gender identity to teenagers committing suicide because they are tortured for being in the “wrong” body. Hollywood has even caught on by casting transgender actors in prominent roles, such as Laverne Cox on the wildly popular Netflix series, Orange is the New Black. Heck, even A-List actor Jared Leto earned a well-deserved Oscar for his portrayal of a transgender woman in Dallas Buyer’s Club. As we grow as a society, such issues as transgenderism have been brought out of the shadows and discussed in a public forum. We know, knew, or know someone who knows someone who is transgender. Even Marvel and DC comics have introduced transgender characters, although none were pre-existing characters dealing with the subject. So, what’s the big deal?
Here’s the big deal. Bruce Jenner is a legend in his own time. He won gold medals in the Olympics. An all-American, white male with good looks and true hero quality, not everyone makes it on the front of a box of Wheaties after all. As time went by, Jenner would be less prominent in the public eye, but that could hardly diminish his role as a legendary sports hero. Oh no, it would take a role as the patsy in the reality show, Keeping up with the Kardashians, to do that.
Orchestrated by Bruce’s wife, Kris Jenner, Keeping up with the Kardashians catapulted the family to household annoyance as if overnight. Until the show aired, the most the public knew of the Kardashians was daughter Kim’s sex tape and deceased family patriarch Robert Kardashian who famously helped O.J. Simpson get away with the murder of his ex-wife Nicole alongside a “dream team” of lawyers.
While the show was wildly popular and returned Bruce Jenner to the very public eye, it did so in a not-so-flattering manner. Bruce was constantly manipulated, undermined, and flat out continuously disrespected on air by his wife and kids. And, there was the issue of his much talked about “botched” plastic surgery. This truly saddened me as I considered Jenner a hero growing up.
Rumors started swirling of trouble in paradise as talks of Bruce and Kris splitting became more frequent. Rumors also started swirling about Bruce’s “odd” behavior, letting his hair grow, and painting his nails. Hmm . . .
Bruce and Kris did eventually split, and, not too long after, it was revealed that Bruce was transitioning into a woman. An interview with Diane Sawyer was followed by a media maelstrom when Vanity Fair released its epic cover story, “Call me Caitlynn.” In all of this, after years of rumors and speculation, it is less surprising that Jenner is transgender and more surprising that he’s a Republican. They say looking good is the best revenge after a couple splits, and Bruce can certainly claim victory in this department, as he looks a hell of a lot better than Kris! It’s not often one can be a contender for “Who wore it better?” or “Bitch stole my look!” with your own ex-wife.
The reason that this is a game changer is the fact that we “know” Bruce Jenner, or at least thought we did. He’s not a story on Facebook or the nightly news. He’s a sports legend and reality TV star. He’s been a part of the collective consciousness for years. This makes the transgender plight more “real” because of that. This makes it “matter.” And, that’s a very good thing.
That got me thinking, “What if Marvel or DC Comics had one of their characters undergo sexual reassignment?” Not a peripheral character or someone who is introduced as transgender, but a true iconic hero like say perhaps, Superman. I chose Superman, because he is so iconic. Spider-Man’s already been black, blonde, and a clone. He has enough b.s. to deal with.
Too bad DC doesn’t do Elseworlds anymore, because this would make one hell of a story. Imagine the ramifications of Superman having sexual reassignment surgery. Not only in the real world but in the comicverse, as well. I mean, Superman would be such a fascinating choice, as he is so bigger than life and has the stranger from another planet thing going on. How would Jimmy react? Lois? Perry? Would Batman welcome him with open cape? Figuring out the whole secret identity swap would be a logistical nightmare of epic proportions in itself. I realize this would never happen. It’s one thing to kill the last son of Kryptonite, it’s another thing to cut off his . . . You can’t exactly retcon something like that without backlash. And, I don’t think we’re there yet. But, Caitlynn Jenner has definitely opened the door for further dialogue and acceptance for the transgender community. It shows society that the transgender individuals aren’t the stereotypical junkie/hookers often portrayed by Hollywood and the media.
By the way, I don’t NEED my Superman to be a woman, but it certainly wouldn’t matter, as his sexual identity is far from the reason I have always loved him so much. Because it doesn’t matter. And, it shouldn’t matter. The mere thought of Superman transitioning into a woman would probably piss a lot of people off. But, guess what? That doesn’t really matter either.