Hey Mom and Dad,
First, got your texts about remembering to wear sunscreen -- really appreciate it.
We want to talk to you about something else though. As you probably know by now, Caitlyn Jenner (formerly Bruce) is on the cover of Vanity Fair. We've been waiting for you to call us and ask us about it, but we'll be at Governor's Ball for the next few days so we thought we'd shoot you an email instead.
So we know you say you don't watch the Kardashians, Dad, but you know who Bruce Jenner was, right? So now Bruce Jenner is Caitlyn Jenner. Yes, that's her on the cover of the magazine (no, Dad, it's not Jessica Lange from "American Horror Story," though Jessica loved the compliment). And yes, we said her. You might remember that during the Diane Sawyer interview, Jenner requested that we use male pronouns for the time being, which we did. Now she has requested that we begin using female pronouns. So we are. Because it's the right thing to do.
We know that using different pronouns and names can be tough, so we want you to know that if you accidentally slip up and say "he" or call Caitlyn "Bruce," that's okay. People make mistakes, and as long as you correct yourself or try to do better next time, you get a thumbs up from us.
That said, if you make a mean joke about Caitlyn or use the wrong pronouns or name on purpose, we will block you on Facebook. Bible.
We know what you're thinking, Dad. But we don't know what, if any, surgery Caitlyn has had. But more importantly, they're called private parts for a reason, you know? It's not really any of our business. And actually, it doesn't even matter, because a person's genitals don't define their gender.
We're not making this up. According to the American Psychological Association, the term "gender" refers to "the socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for boys and men or girls and women." However, a person's biological sex (yes, Dad, their family jewels) can differ from their gender identity -- as is the case with Caitlyn Jenner. When a baby is born and the doctor announces it's a girl, what she's really saying is, "This baby has a vagina!"
Vaginas and/or penises are great, but their presence doesn't allow us to assume or predict who that baby will be when they grow up. I know you might have thought it did, but the truth is, it just doesn't work that way.
Caitlyn Jenner is a woman. She's not confused, she's not a cross-dresser, and despite what Uncle Frank says, she's not doing this for money or attention or because she spent all those years surrounded by beautiful women. Caitlyn is doing this because she's ready, and she wants to help others who are going through something similar.
Caitlyn has known she was transgender for a long time. She knew during the Olympics. She knew when she was married to Kris. But the thing is, our culture wasn't ready. Society wasn't there yet. But look at her now. In regards to her upcoming E! docu-special, "I Am Cait," she said, "I'm not doing it for money. I'm doing it to help my soul and help other people."
As parents, you're probably wondering about Caitlyn's children and step-children. How did they take the news? What will they call her? A lot of transgender parents have had to figure this out before Caitlyn, and as best-selling author Jenny Finney Boylan told us earlier this year, Jenner's kids should understand that, "Whoever your parent has been is largely who they’ll keep being. Except that with any luck they’ll be a little better adjusted, and will be more at peace because they’ll feel more at ease in their own skin.”
For now, it's respectful to refer to Caitlyn as Kris Jenner's ex-spouse, and as Kim Kardashian's step-parent. Language matters, even when you're talking casually, and especially when you're posting on social media.
While we're on the subject of beautiful women, Mom, we want to assure you that just because Dad thinks Caitlyn is pretty, that doesn't mean Dad is gay. As Nick Adams, a transgender man and the Director of Programs and Transgender Media at GLAAD, recently told us, “Sexual orientation is about who you’re attracted to, who you want to fall in love with, who you want to go to bed with." Caitlyn is a woman, and Dad likes women. Therefore, Dad is [probably] still just a boring straight dude. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯...Not that we're judging or policing anyone's sexuality here!
But here's why this is so important to us.
Caitlyn Jenner isn't the first transgender person we've ever heard of. We have friends who are transgender, gender queer, and who don't identify with either or any genders at all. We hear stories about teens who are bullied, shunned, denied happiness, and in some cases, murdered, and it hurts us, because we think everyone deserves to be treated the same, and given a fair shot at life. Oh, hey -- you taught us that!
Our entire generation is more open and excited to discuss sexuality, gender, and equality than any previous generations. If we have kids, they will most likely be born into a country where marriage is a right for everyone. They're going to have role models who are proud feminists, people of color, and folks from all parts of the LGBTQ community. In 15 years, you're going to turn on the TV and not recognize anyone, and that's going to be a good thing. It means everything you fought for, and your parents' parents fought for, has finally paid off. We know we couldn't have done this without you.
Yup, you heard that right. We're saying thank you. Please savor this moment.
For our generation, Caitlyn's story is exciting, but also a bit sad. We can't imagine waiting ~almost~ our entire lives to be the person we really are. But because of people like her, and people like you respecting and supporting her, we're able to imagine a brighter future for ourselves -- a future where acceptance is the norm, and happiness is never put on hold.
So, thanks for loving us for who we are, and helping us become good people -- you obviously did a great job.