Dear Bruce Jenner:
I’d better say this up front before the vitriol patrol lose their collective mind over what comes next. I do not wish to be insensitive to your journey. If you’re happy pretending you’re a woman then who am I to tell you that you can’t do that? This is your life, your happiness and your family. Unfortunately (or fortunately for your fat and getting fatter Kate Spade pocketbook) you’ve made it my business and the business of everyone in America at this point, so I feel it necessary to clear this up on behalf of all women everywhere.
Literally speaking (literally literally, not the literally the kids use these days) there is about as much scientific evidence of real transgenderism as there is that vaccines cause autism. It’s science and since I think science is very valuable and I adore logic, I’m just being factual here.
But like I said, your life, your choice. What I will not do is welcome you into the “sisterhood” as a fellow woman. You simply are not. The way my white friends will never understand what it’s like to be black, the way a mother can never really understand what it’s like to be a father, you will never really be able to understand what it’s like to be a woman.
You are not a woman. You will never be a woman. That title is something that is earned. It is not a persona or a skin you can slip into one day when the moment is right. It is not something you think you are and then later mutilate your body to match. What goes into becoming a woman cannot be surgically inserted (or removed for that matter). It cannot be gained in therapy or a lifetime of feeling different or found in the hem of a particularly stunning dress. I think even the most hardcore of feminists would agree it is far more than biological, certainly much deeper than psychological.
You will never understand the careful navigation of the world every girl must figure out for herself. You’ll never know what it’s like to be a little girl in a man’s world or what it’s like to watch your body change into that weird in-between stage when all the boys around you are still little boys and you’re turning into a woman without even really wanting it. You’ll never know what it’s like to deal with a monthly cycle, or even what it’s like to be the very rare woman who doesn’t get her monthly but still has to deal with the stigma of being a teenager developing more slowly than her peers. Ovaries are not just anatomy. They play a big part in who we are as women. There are many, many women out there who have had their ovaries removed for various medical reasons. You are not even like them, because those women also deal with the emotional and physical repercussions of being a woman who had ovaries and can no longer let them stay in her body.
I hated growing into a woman. I didn’t understand womanhood, and being raised without a father in the home had a negative impact on my development as young woman. I had no idea how to relate to the opposite sex and I had no desire to embrace my own sex. I was freaked out by the idea of getting my period. The idea of sex was even freakier. I railed against my mother when she finally insisted I get my first bra. Womanhood embarrassed me. I was changing and I didn’t know how to be OK with that.
As the mother of a young daughter I feel acutely aware of the need to frame womanhood as something she should look forward to. I don’t want her to feel scared about all the changes. I want her to welcome them, to learn how to ride them out and embrace them. I want her to feel like she’s finally getting into the club, that she will one day transition her girlhood into a beautiful, diverse, strange and sometime crazy community we call womanhood. I tell her stories (in vague terms, as she’s still quite young) about all the great things the changes in your body mean. Her period means she can one day be a mother, her breasts mean she can one day nurse that child. Her sense of nurturing and desire to care for her dolls and teddy bears like they’re babies will one day morph into all the instincts she needs to take care of a family of her own. These are things – even for women who never get to directly experience them – that make up the essence of a woman. The idea that you can or can’t do these things is something that is carried by each woman through her entire childhood, to adulthood and the burdens on being able to or unable to do these things are uniquely…womanly. They are added to all the other experiences that a girl has as she journeys into maturity and when she arrives at the other end she calls herself “woman” because of them; because of all the experiences.
I truly do hope you feel better about yourself and enjoy your life now. I hope your children can find a way to mourn the loss of their father without being judged for it, by you or anyone else. I’m fine with whatever you choose to do or call yourself, as it is your life and your choice. Hell, I’ll even march with you and stand up for your dignity as a human being and someone who deserves to be loved and appreciated. I am not, however, fine with welcoming you into the womanhood club.
And while I’m sure we could go out and have a drink and laugh and probably have a pretty good time, I’ll never be thinking of you as “a sister”, but rather as a man who has found some measure of comfort in living the way he’s always wished to live.
Womanhood is a unique journey. For my daughter’s sake and the sake of my fellow women who battle every day to be recognized as valuable for their womanhood and not just in spite of it, I cannot cheapen that journey by allowing you to suddenly claim that moniker having never truly known the price.
Photo from Vanity Fair
Kira Davis is a writer, video blogger and homeschool mother of two. She has interviewed President Obama and appeared on Fox News, The BlazeTV and the Dr. Phil Show. Kira is a dog person but she owns a cat anyway. You can find her on Twitter @RealKiraDavis.
Don’t miss Kira’s previous column, Dear Minimum Wage Protester.
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