Now I am all Aquarian and anarchist and all that. I was born with the attitude “Eff thee man!” So I support the exploration of the contents of one’s consciousness. A main part of my dissertation focuses on the phenomenon of consciousness, and how grand and big it is and how it wants to understand itself through experiencing well…new experiences. I celebrate the great sacred gasp of discovery! I love that and I think this is the nature of what is divine about us as physical beings that are manifest as “God/dess” or Creatrix or however one wants to name that. I am also a pagan who believes that one should “do what thou will as long as it harms none.”
However, there is something seriously wrong with this picture that is Jenner. There is a giant difference between expressing yourself outside the lines of societal definitions of gender, and undergoing violent physical changes to your body that transform you into the ideal female as defined by patriarchal culture.
Please note Jenner didn’t transform into a “average” sixty something white woman did he? No, he got cut in a ten hour “feminizing” surgery to look like a much younger woman who embodies a patriarchal definition of what is attractive. WTF! Seriously, was it really his soul’s desire to become a woman at that age if he had not had the privilege of celebrity, money, and flying to the Riviera, being comped 50k in clothes by couture designers and then photographed by celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz?
Hey sign me up!
And at the risk of sounding “intolerant” or non PC – gasp! – I do not think that Jenner, or any transsexual, is suddenly by way of surgery turned into a woman. Again, that doesn’t mean that I don’t support, or have compassion for, an individual’s journey toward liberation as it pertains to the wondrous and complex phenomenon of sexuality and gender. What I do mean is that just cutting and pasting physical parts, without living as a female in contemporary society, does not, by default, turn you into a woman. It is obviously more complex than that.
I don’t think anyone who has not been born with a vagina, uterus, or female breasts, who has not been raised as a woman in this present day world, with the bleeding, the birthing, the menopause, the history of oppression, the often marginalized status, the different access to resources, the ever-present fear for safety, and all of the other complex and diverse ramifications of being a woman in this world today, can ever call themselves a woman even though they may choose to conform violently by way of surgery to attain particular physical attributes. Attributes that are not based in the physical reality of a sixty year old woman but of a manufactured narrative of a limited ideal of female sexuality and beauty. Sorry. To Jenner I would say that your consciousness is worth exploring and you should define yourself according to your will, but you have not lived life as a woman this time. You do not share the experiences of those diverse individuals who have been born women.
Now as a scholar I am going to say that woman as a category is not monolithic – we are not one thing, one voice, or one culture. We are as diverse as we are individual. Still, the one thing that does unify us as a historical and social category is our physicality and with that comes, just like it does for men, a particular perspective on life as physical beings. There is a power dynamic inherent in that physical distinction in this present time. Women, by way of being born with particular biology, although not limited by it of course, have experienced a different access to power due the parameters of that physicality.
This difference has translated into agency – or who gets to define who we are; and who has the luxury of doing so. And for the majority of us born women, even entertaining the luxury of thinking about any kind of change of that identity, much less the resources to make that change happen, are non-existent. That is the difference and that is what people mean by privilege.
Here’s two links that say it better than I have: