Whose Pain Wins?: Caitlyn, Courage, and the 2015 ESPY Awards

Caitlyn Jenner at the 2015 Espys

My children, like most, fight constantly.  Among the endless things that they find conflict-worthy, they repeatedly quibble over which one of them has endured the most injustice or physical pain. I am often accused of going easy on one of them for a particular disciplinary transgression, or of not properly acknowledging that one person’s bruise is more painful than another person’s papercut. Despite the normalcy of these behaviors, what is actually important about them is not the injury itself, but the power that each hopes to gain by having their injuries recognized as worse than their sibling’s, for like many people, my kids are keen on the idea that if something bad has happened to them, then they “deserve” something good. Continue reading “Whose Pain Wins?: Caitlyn, Courage, and the 2015 ESPY Awards”

The Moves We Make

One way sign covered in stickers

Prompted by the discussion surrounding Rachel Dolezal’s NAACP resignation, this series of posts is about how and when we take performativity seriously… and when it bows to interests in historical or experiential specificity.

If I’m counting, I’ve read exactly one smart thing about Rachel Dolezal on the internet—Adolph Reed Jr.’s “From Jenner to Dolezal: One Trans Good, the Other Not So Much” (thanks, Craig Martin, for directing my attention to it). In the piece, Reed says, among other things, that the distinction between trans people’s “involuntary” decision and Dolezal’s “active choice” where self-identification is concerned “is mind-bogglingly wrong-headed, but it is at the same time thus deeply revealing of the contradictoriness and irrationality that undergird so much self-righteous identitarian twaddle.” But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. I need to explain why I think we should still even be talking about Rachel Dolezal, right? Continue reading “The Moves We Make”

Whose Sex Change Was It?: Caitlyn Jenner and the Boundaries of Public Identity

Caitlyn Jenner on the cover of Vanity Fair

Lately, there has been no shortage of commentators eager to discuss Caitlyn Jenner’s recent Vanity Fairy cover (featured above). In the public eye, Jenner has been a famous male athlete-turned reality show husband-turned transgender femme fatale, and this series of transformations has inspired plenty of ogling. Conservative outlets seem to decry the former Bruce’s sex change as something bewildering and strange (if not disgusting and unnatural), while more progressive ones praise her as a heroine who has had the courage to publicly reveal her “true self.” Continue reading “Whose Sex Change Was It?: Caitlyn Jenner and the Boundaries of Public Identity”