One thing kept striking me the most while I watched Caitlyn Jenner making her heart-felt thank-you speech at the ESPY awards. I felt the strangest whenever the TV camera pulled back and showed her at a distance — from off-stage in fact. She would be shown in a brilliant white gown standing alone before a full house.
The camera angle seemed to me to represent distance — as though not only looking at her from off-stage, but from much farther away — indeed, from other countries! What would people be thinking of this scene in Russia? In China? In India?
A formerly male Olympic champion was standing before a huge audience wearing a gown, long hair, make-up…and accepting an award as a woman.
I wondered what THEY were wondering. How could this be the same person that won the most grueling Olympic event at the 1976 Montreal Games? That person is now a woman?! How could an Olympic decathlon champion make such a change in one’s life?
Then I thought of Caitlyn Jenner herself — and it all made sense. You see, OTHERS may have been surprised at her change. But she herself was never surprised. She always knew deep down who she was — how she identified — what gender she knew herself to be. It was not a surprise to HER that she was standing on a stage in a brilliant gown for the whole world to witness.
Indeed, the only thing that made it a surprise to the rest of us is that the change happened so many years after the Olympics. We had nearly 40 years of thinking of her as a him. In her own mind, she had been “her” all along.
It’s just that the conversion involved so much — informing family members, going off on her own to meditate, knowing all of the controversy she would have to deal with, completing the physical transformation…
Any surprise at the news only came to those of us who weren’t privileged to belong to her inner circle. In the closest inner circle of all — in the counsels of her own mind — it was no surprise.
“The only thing sacred at last,” said Emerson, “is the integrity of our own mind.”