Caitlyn Jenner should make us all think of gender differently

Transgender Olympic champion, formerly known as Bruce Jenner, revealed her true self on the front cover of Vanity Fair. Coming out of surgery as Caitlyn, she has been the topic of discussion on the tips of everyone’s tongues this week.

But why has Caitlyn’s body transformation been so fascinating? What has made it a talking point? And how has it changed the way we think about gender?

Generally, the body is always an object when placed in the spotlight. At the basic premise of this, if you capture a single shot by a camera lens you are immediately objectified by the lens. After this, if you are ‘famous’, you are under the scrutiny of a million eyes which was definitely the case for Caitlyn who accumulated over a million followers on Twitter within one hour; beating President Barack Obama’s record.

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Either somebody is being criticised for being ‘too fat’ or ‘too skinny’. Is the beard back in? And the list for the criteria of the ‘perfect woman’ is endless.

Thus, Caitlyn’s change in physical appearance was bound to be a big story and the commentary dictating whether she looks good or not was inevitable.

Caitlyn’s reformation to her true self is also a victory for all in the same position. Her bravery and courage gives others the same and it is great that being transgender is now being perceived as a ‘norm’.

However, the fascination behind Caitlyn’s transformation goes much deeper than this.

I love being a ‘woman’. I use the term in a single quotation marks because what it means to be a ‘woman’ is completely subjective; after-all, I believe, we are fundamentally all human and therefore individuals. For me, Angelina Jolie in Tomb Radar is just as much a woman as Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada.

To expand on this, let us look at Sigmund Freud’s theory of Psychoanalysis. He states that we are all born with a bisexual disposition. This puts us all on an equal playing field. We are then born into gender. As Simone de Beauvoir, French writer, existentialist philosopher, and feminist states, “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman“.

So Caitlyn’s anatomical change revealed we can change our ‘sex’, or in his case return to what he feels is his true sex. But what is more interesting is that psychologically there seems to be an overlap between the ‘gender’ dispositions. Psychologically and cognitively we have the potential to possess, or come into, both and either gender disposition and then grow into the stereotypes – or don’t grow into them.

Whether you believe in this theory or not, Caitlyn’s story can make us all think about gender differently. It paves the way to equality knowing there is no real ‘gender’ divide and that the qualities and characteristics overlap.

And obviously, it is great that she has not been keeping up with the Kardashians and following Kim’s footsteps of breaking the internet. She has united the net and showing bravery. Keep it up Caitlyn!

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