I feel the earth move under my feet
I feel the sky tumbling down
I feel my heart start to trembling
Whenever you're around
- Carole King
There is an old adage - the map is not the territory. It seems to me, that one needs to gain the wisdom of experience to really understand the meaning of this. The release of the Vanity Fair cover story "Call Me Caitlyn" made my heart start to trembling and I felt the earth move under my feet.
It was Monday June 1, 2015 that the landscape changed forever as if the entire planet was slammed by Thor's hammer, Mjolnir, as we were introduced to Caitlyn Jenner in all her cover girl beauty and glory. Vast amounts of support have been reported far and wide on Jenner's courage on now beginning to express and live as her authentic self.
Once again we hear that the event has broken the internet. I myself have been quoted in multiple places that this event is so important in that the transgender community could not pay for this amount of visibility. The word "transgender" is now on the lips of millions, and many have uttered it for the first time. Some know what it means, some are curious, and still some either casually or vehemently dismiss and disparage it. The discussion of gender and gender variance is no longer in the dark, on the sly, or something to avoid. Understanding and accepting what it all is, implies and means is as they say, another story. However, make no mistake, the earth has moved, the world has changed, the internet was broken. When these types of event occur, the territory has actually changed too, and the old maps no longer give you the correct directions.
When an earthquake occurs, it takes many, many people to clean up and figure out what was broken and have the energy and the wherewithal to learn how traverse the new territory and create the new maps. We have learned to send in our best and most experienced people to support these events whether they are physical or literal. At least I hope we have.
Caitlyn Jenner and perhaps Team Caitlyn wielded the hammer this week that changed the world and at least for a moment, or a day, I suspect she felt she was on the top of world. For Caitlyn this may not have been an unfamiliar feeling.
For those who are familiar with some of my writings here, you know I like to share some stories about some of my old bosses. Here is another. One of my old bosses used to say that when you get to the top of the pyramid there is only room to keep one foot on the point, and it is easy to lose your balance and fall back down the side to the bottom.
As I write this just 2 days after the earth has moved, and my heart, like many others, started to trembling, we see the first promo for "I am Cait" and at least for me, it appears that Ms. Jenner may have already lost her balance at the top of the world. Perhaps she truly believes she will change the world but the simple phrase exclaimed in this trailer where she says "I'm the new normal" has me deeply concerned. It is just a snippet and I could be missing the overall context of this, but I think not. Ms. Jenner is neither the first, nor will she be the last person who crosses the gender divide. She is, most probably the most visible person to do this. She is but one of many who each follow their own unique path to living their authentic life. This is a goal of many but far from the new normal.
I think that I can speak to this with a sense of experience, as I myself have transitioned gender at the age of 64 and am now over four years down this road. I cannot even imagine anyone, let me repeat this, ANYONE, early on their transition journey claim to be the new normal, or even suggest they represent anyone but themself. I have many friends in all age groups that have been on similar journeys and not a single one has made a claim like this. For me and many of those I know, this was a time of self-discovery and self reflection, and for many a chance to make up for a different time of puberty they may have missed. However each and every one of us knew that this was our individual journey and not a model for anyone else.
Clearly this promo has triggered me. As a transgender woman, as a therapist, as a teacher on gender variance, I am concerned where this docu-series will be going and whether this will help to clean up and create the new and correct maps for the new territory.
I worry if Caitlin has lost her balance. She has had the ability to wield the hammer that has changed the world. We know that if the hammer really was Mjolnir, it is engraved as follows:
"Whosoever holds this hammer if s/he be worthy shall possess the power of Thor."
I believed that at least for a few days that Caitlyn appeared to be worthy of wielding the hammer. I am now not sure that this is true.
I believe that the clean up work should be left to the experts. Those of us who have been doing this work for years and have the wisdom to know what we are talking about, and the experience of having been through this journey already. In time Caitlyn will learn to truly know herself and find her true voice, I have no doubt of this. I applaud her for changing the landscape. She has done what only she was able to do. I hope she can recognize this and be able to recognize what she is good at, and make room for those who can continue to accomplish the goals she desires.
Grace Stevens is a transgender woman who transitioned at the age of 64 and holds a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology. She is a father of three, grandparent of two, athlete, advocate and author of No! Maybe? Yes! Living My Truth, an intimate memoir of her personal struggle to transition and live her true life authentically as a woman. For more information about Grace, her speaking about authentic living with Living on-TRACK, and how Gender Variance Education and Training can help you, visit her website at: http://www.graceannestevens.com/. Follow Grace on Twitter: www.twitter.com/graceonboard .