With the name settled, “the look” was elevated to issue of top importance. One of Jenner's great concerns about going all in was looking the part, and not looking like a guy in a dress. To be sure, Vanity Fair debuts the new Jenner in a feminine light. Thanks in overwhelming part to the considerable photography skills of Annie Leibovitz, a prodigious amount of cosmetic and tonsorial talent, soft-focus, and no shortage of air-brushing, the feminine look was pulled off.
But without proper staging all the talent would have been for naught. In the cover photo, Jenner's shoulders are uplifted and pulled back, thus narrowed. His arms are tucked behind his backside, thus concealing hands able to palm a basketball. He is photographed above the knees, thus concealing masculine calf-less legs and clodhopper-size feet. Congratulations to all involved. They succeeded in ensuring Jenner would look as he wanted – as a woman in a dress. Then again, I can't help but think that with Leibovitz's et al's talents Keith Richards could have passed as a woman in a dress.
Guys attempting to go mainstream as gals, this is the “new normal," according to Caitlyn Jenner. For a multi-millionaire celebrity, you can call the “new normal” as you see it. If the “new normal” is breast enhancement surgery and cross-dressing, so be it. For Jenner, the Vanity Fair fantasy can be maintained for a lifetime: Six-digit speaking fees, television, books, ESPY awards, and a sycophantic retinue awaits his future.
Others desirous to emulate Jenner's “new normal” will find life significantly more complicated and considerably more gritty. What of the plebeian Keith-Richards lookalike who can't bear to live another day as a man? For him, the “new normal” will include a hefty helping of the quotidian. Earning a living interacting with other plebeians tops the list. To be sure, most of us wish to live not being bothered and not to be a bother. Mostly, we prefer to live among people of similar thought processes and physiology.
Even for Jenner, life will become somewhat more complicated. No one can completely insulate himself from the rabble. Outside the cocoon of a Vanity Fair photo-shoot and on the street, “a guy in a dress" is the first thought that will pop to mind of many strangers who cross Jenner's path.
Most of the time, though, Jenner will be flattered by flunkies and spoiled by well-heeled progressive thinkers. So he can primp and preen and look like the guy in a dress and everyone in the vicinity will coo and applaud. The Keith Richards lookalike who works as a software sales representative, on the other hand, will find life decidedly less accommodating. The cross-dresser lacking the financial means to sculpture his face into a more feminine form is assured of not only looking like the guy in a dress, but looking like the ugly guy in a dress to boot.
We are judged by our appearance, and our appearance is dictated by social norms. Men don suits and ties and woman don dresses for job interviews not because they want to, but because it is expected. That you dress to conventional norms for specific situations proves that you are self aware; that you are sufficiently intelligent to gauge culture. Dressing for the occasion enables people to focus on the value proposition. An ugly guy in a dress ensures those to be persuaded never get past the looping internal question: “what's going on here?”
In the nether regions, Jenner confides that he retains what he entered the world with. He can still stand at the john, but he still views himself as a woman. To circumvent this conundrum, a neologism has been conjured into service. Transgender is defined as “the state of one's gender identity or gender expression not matching one's assigned sex.” It's nebulous, which makes it all-encompassing, and, therefore, very convenient. If etymology still matters, and it matters less and less, it also makes it plain wrong.
“Trans” is synonymous with across, beyond, through. It denotes a journey that will eventually be completed. A trans-Atlantic voyage gets you to New York from Liverpool. The key is that you eventually get to New York.
There is no getting to one sex from another. The sex you're “assigned” is the sex that stays with you forever. To label someone transgender only perpetuates a fantasy, but the realty will always remain: “Y” will never get to “X.” Wide shoulders will never get to narrow shoulders. A baritone will never get to a soprano, and conscience effort to elevate the pitch will only accentuate the obvious.
And even after all the stuff in front is removed, reconfigured, and reapplied, the other primary sexual characteristic – the prostate – remains. Technology has yet been perfected so a prostrate can transmogrify and migrate to above a man-made vagina. To remove the prostrate would only exacerbate matters. Instead of merely being a man with mutilated genitals, you have a man with mutilated genitals and incontinence.
Am I intolerant for broaching reality? Or am I homophobic (another meaningless neologism)? No, I've done nothing to prevent Jenner from perusing his dreams. No threats have been made, nor would they ever be. Physical nonaggression is the height of civility. Jenner, like everyone, is lord of his body. It is his to do with as he pleases. I've only observed. I certainly wish Caitlyn Jenner no harm or misfortune.
But everyone is fair game and potential observational fodder, whether he or shes likes it or not. Caitlyn Jenner is more fortunate than most. His wealth insulates him to a large degree from the soul-withering grind of frequent rejection, sniggering, and ridicule that comes with voluntarily living as an outlier. Anyone considering following Jenner's lead would be well-advised to ensure he, too, is similarly insulated.