, , , , , , ,

caitlyn Jenner

Photo by Annie Leibovitz for Vanity Fair

We’ve all seen the photos published in Vanity Fair. Bruce Jenner has transitioned from male to female and is now known as Caitlyn. And we know Matt Walsh considers himself the end-all/be-all of conservative truth-telling, a thing this conservative woman finds laughable. In his recent post about the Bruce-to-Caitlyn journey, he not only degrades Jenner by calling her “a monstrosity,” he diminishes conservatism in the process, a philosophy he purports to represent. Most won’t notice this over his harsh diatribe against Jenner, but I see it.  And I’m calling it out. I know many will stand up for Jenner, so I’ll leave that to them. But right now, right here, I’m standing up to the secondary bullying Walsh is inflicting on women and on conservatives. My voice represents a rising tide within conservatism, one that would like to give Matt Walsh a shove off his self-created pedestal. 

He writes:

There are many different points that need to be made [regarding Caitlyn Jenner], and I try to cover them all here. One that I particularly concentrate on is the fact that it is, without a doubt, incredibly insulting and demeaning to women to call this mockery of femininity “female.” Being a woman is about more than having a pointy chin and wearing a corset. If I were a woman (which I’m not and never could be), I would be especially angry at the notion that a wealthy celebrity man can essentially buy his way into my sex.

As a woman, I’m not in the least insulted that someone with a penis wants to become a woman. Being a woman is wonderful. What does insult me, however, is the way Walsh thinks he understands what it means to be a woman. In fact, I’m annoyed that he equates “femininity” with “womanhood,” as if females must somehow qualify for womenhood through compliance to society’s concept of femininity. It seems to me that the person who needs reminding that “[b]eing a woman is about more than having a pointy chin and wearing a corset” is Walsh.

I’m also insulted that Walsh feels the need to mansplain to me that I, a woman, should be upset that “a wealthy celebrity man can … buy his way into my sex.”  To my ears, this smacks of the same class warfare he denounces when he thinks progressives engage in it. Why would I, a conservative woman, be upset that a self-made man of means chooses a life-changing elective surgery? God bless Bruce Jenner for becoming wealthy in our capitalistic society. God bless Bruce Jenner for making independent decisions about his life. And God bless the great American law, society, and culture that practices what it preaches and allows its citizens to make free will choices. If Bruce Jenner wants to be Caitlyn Jenner, then God bless her for her courage to face bigotry in a corset.

Walsh also chides conservatives for “abandon[ing] the battlefield,” condemning those of us who see bravery in Jenner’s public transition. He has the audacity to claim I see it this way because I’m “just terrified of the backlash.” Wrong.

I’m terrified of living in a society and culture where people are controlled, be it by government or societal pressure. I’m “sickened and infuriated” by people who share my political philosophy but who think their way is the way. That is tyranny. Walsh may have intended to shame Jenner with his words, but instead he shames both conservatives and women. Well, shame on him!

I don’t agree with his opinion about Caitlyn Jenner. I’ve done the work of learning a bit about the transgender experience, rather than forming my opinion on the myths that percolate in mainstream America. And guess what? Transgender people are, in fact, human. They have arms and legs, hearts and minds, and the same needs as every other child of God. Astonishingly, they have the radical notion that they are of value. In this world, standing up for that innate human value takes bravery. That is something conservatism should do.

Womanhood is not threatened because Caitlyn has been “born.” I am no less of a woman because transgender people exist and make their transitions. What I am is a rational, kind, welcoming human being, a woman of faith, who refuses to accept that treating any child of God like trash is what conservatism is about. Conservatism must be about opening space for people to create for themselves the lives of their dreams. The minute conservatives stop doing that, they become something else, something I’d call a monstrosity.

Freedom had been hunted round the globe; reason was considered as rebellion; and the slavery of fear had made men afraid to think. But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing. –Thomas Paine, 1791