Today I read a post by a popular Catholic blogger. It began: "Bruce Jenner won the ESPN courage award last night." This blogger's refusal to refer to Ms. Jenner as Caitlyn Jenner tells you a lot. And everything else he wrote in his article tells you EXACTLY WHY Caitlyn Jenner won The Arthur Ashe Courage Award. The whole piece was dripping with cruel disrespect and downright ignorance. In fact, in perusing this man's blog, I must say that a lot of his posts drip with cruel disrespect and downright ignorance.
But, anyway, back to the issue of Ms. Jenner.
The Catholic blogger goes on accuse Ms. Jenner of "mutiliating" her "genitals" and "playing dress up." The blogger says, "Jenner cut himself up and started wearing girls' clothes because he wanted to. It makes him feel good." EXCUSE ME?!?! First of all, from everything I have read, Ms. Jenner has not had any surgery on her genitals. Ms. Jenner also identifies as a woman, so she cannot be accused of "playing dress up." She is trying -- for all intents and purposes -- to authentically live her gender identity. And to have to live one's gender identity in the face of such ignorant insults certainly qualifies as courage, in my book. Catholics say that they "don't hate" LGBT people. Well... I'm sorry. But, this is hate, pure and simple. Ignorant hate.
The Catholic blogger says that Caitlyn Jenner does what she does "merely because it satisfies an urge." And then he goes on to say, "He needs counseling. Extensive, prolonged counseling. And Jesus."
Guess what? Ms. Jenner has had that type of counseling. It has been a struggle for her. She has done the best she can. She is doing the best she can. And standing tall in the face of the disrespect that this blogger -- and others like him -- throw at her is courage. Absolute courage.
And as far as Jesus goes? I read an article a while back written by the pastor of a Christian church that Bruce Jenner and his family attended many years ago. The pastor said that Bruce was there each and every Sunday -- even when the rest of his family couldn't make it. This pastor said that Bruce listened intently to the Bible readings and the sermons, sang with enthusiasm and devotion, and asked many intelligent and probing questions about our Lord in his attempt to know and love Him. In my opinion, it sounds like Bruce (now Caitlyn) has a lot more Jesus than this Catholic blogger. And a lot more courage.
It is easy to hurl insults and be applauded. It is NOT courage. That's what this Catholic blogger does.
Caityln is applauded, too. And -- yes -- she will make money from her story. But, that doesn't take away from its authenticity. Also -- as far as I can tell -- she has never hurled an insult at anybody. She has never shown any hatred. She seeks to spread understanding -- not just about herself, but about transsexual people, in general. And these trans people are hated by many. They need our love and support. So, Ms. Jenner, I will happily buy your book. Because you truly do have courage, especially when you are standing -- without flinching -- before those who claim to speak for God and who would condemn you for being who you are.
Catholics -- especially those who call themselves "traditional" and "orthodox" and would put themselves in leadership roles -- need to EDUCATE THEMSELVES about LGTBQ issues. They need to read modern thought with at least somewhat of an open mind. I am not saying they need to agree, but they need to stop sounding like cruel, ignorant fools. Sorry if that "fools" part sounds harsh, but they do come across as such. They really do.
My oldest daughter said to me once, "Maybe walking the 'straight and narrow' really means standing up for these people," meaning the LGBT people. Now -- to be clear -- she wasn't saying that we should reject Church teaching. But -- what she was saying -- is that when unfair, uneducated, cruel accusations are hurled at them, we need to stand up for them. We need to show compassion. We need to show mercy. We need to appreciate their intelligence and gifts and talents and actually integrate them into our society (and even into our personal lives). We need to LISTEN to them, and not just dismiss what they are saying about themselves. Because it is more difficult and requires much more wisdom and grace to do these things than to hurl Church teaching at them in a way that is unproductive, at best, and full of hate, at worst.
Frankly, we don't know all there is to know about human sexuality. And it's time for us Catholics to stop thinking that we do. Because that kind of pride is causing a lot of harm -- to individuals, to society, and to the Church.
Finally, I want to just remind everyone that Arthur Ashe died of AIDS, which is a disease -- at least when I was younger -- that caused people who had it to be treated with great suspicion and much unjust discrimination, even hatred. That is what Caitlyn Jenner -- and many LGBT people -- are being treated with now -- great suspicion, unjust discrimination, and even hatred. So -- maybe, just maybe -- Caitlyn is a VERY appropriate recipient of that award.