The Deeper Signficance of Caitlyn Jenner

While much has been written about the public transition of Bruce Jenner to Caitlyn Jenner, it's worth reflecting on the meaning of this moment within the larger context of our world's evolution.

The way I see it, we are just now beginning to cross a critical threshold in the evolution of our planet, which involves shifting from a long era of masculine predominance to masculine-feminine balance.

The last era was about more than just males holding more societal power -- it's really about an era in which masculine values, perspectives, and orientations have held higher status, which means that feminine expressions in men or women have been less honored, rewarded, and culturally supported.

That cultural tilt has fueled, for example, prejudice against gay people, who don't always align with the classic paradigm of masculinity for males and femininity for females. Transgender folks challenge traditional paradigms of masculinity and femininity at still another level. In that way, they offer a bit of a societal Rorschach for where we are in the journey of equally valuing both masculine and feminine qualities in whatever bodies they emerge in.

When men, for example, are faced with lower social status when they take on more feminine expression, it will make it much harder for them to accept feminine qualities in other men. That's because they will typically be suppressing such expressions in themselves, which means they will tend to have some level of rejection of such expression in others.

Where I grew up, that meant rejecting most femininity in males as "gay," which was a clear insult. In this last era in which higher social status was associated with masculinity, males had to "beef up" on their masculinity and suppress their femininity. And that in turn fed into all manner of self and other-rejection (as well as cycles of outright abuse).

That's why the remarkably widespread acceptance of Caitlyn Jenner's transition from an Olympic icon of male prowess to embodiment of feminine beauty is so significant.

It reflects the fact that, at least in Hollywood and mainstream culture, a shift from masculine to feminine is no longer perceived as a threat to one's core status or social bonds in the same way it once was.

And that is a profoundly good thing for our society, for the simple reason that people who are at peace with their natural expression -- whether that is masculine in a female body or the reverse or some hybrid -- are more at peace with everyone else around them.

So Caitlyn's gift to the larger world is not just a deeper acceptance of transgender people, as wonderful as that is. It also mirrors that we have begun to reach one of the last stages of re-equalizing masculine and feminine within our society.

As we embrace someone who was once one of our most masculine icons becoming a woman, it means that we as men are getting to the point culturally of fully honoring our feminine sides. By accepting the feminine in ourselves, we as men can now better understand, appreciate, and honor women.

We are witnessing a new possibility in the cultural mirror, one of a deeper gender equality that creates the space for each of us to be fully ourselves rather than fit a culturally sanctioned model of masculinity or femininity. We can flex and flow and come into a natural equilibrium with who we truly are.

And that, in turn, is the core of building a loving, harmonious, and healthy culture.

To build this new masculine-feminine balanced culture, it's essential for us to not just embrace equal rights and opportunities for women in the world but to equally honor feminine qualities and expression - in workplaces, governments, media, and more.

It will take some time for this re-balancing to be reflected throughout the world, but given the sheer influence of Hollywood and American media in shaping our future, it has become increasingly inevitable.

While Caitlyn cannot take credit for the zeitgeist that has been rapidly shifting us in that direction, she can be proud that she has offered us a public opportunity to make our commitment clear to the re-balancing and re-honoring of the feminine within men and within our society.

As we embrace her, we embrace all of our Self.