It was the media event of the summer: the transformation of Olympic triathlete Bruce Jenner into “Call me Caitlyn.” For years the butt of late-night jokes due to his extensive plastic surgery, Bruce qua Caitlyn was suddenly an object of curiosity, awe, possibly even respect. Anticipation turned into va’voom when Caitlyn appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair looking like a total babe. Sure, a few feminists complained that all the ogling was just another case of reducing women to their physical looks. But the mainstream media settled on a narrative that this was an act of great courage for which Caitlyn was to be lauded. And so she was, with accolades that included a special ESPY Courage award, complete with an international telecast at which she gave a thirty-minute speech. When the latter turned into something of an infomercial for her upcoming projects with the Kardashians, a few eyebrows were raised. Reports surfaced that the ESPY award was a quid pro quo with ABC in exchange for her exclusive “coming out” interview. Meanwhile, real people who are transitioning observed that few have the resources that allowed Bruce Jenner, age 65, to become the ravishing Caitlyn. Which suggests an untold story in this metamorphosis, in which Jenner went not just from male to female but from an old man to a young woman (and BTW what is her sexual orientation now?): we seem to have reached a point when one’s “identity” can be whatever one says it is—and then changes into.
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