Earlier this week, I wrote in Taki’s:
O’Brien conceived of new manifestations of Big Brother’s power as “subtler,” but in 21st-century America, “sillier” might be a better term for Big Sibling’s muscle-flexing. For example, World War G over gay marriage was immediately followed by World War T. That the struggle for transgender rights to, say, beat up women in mixed martial arts fights has always been on the verge of collapsing into Bruce Jenner farcicality is part of its appeal. WWT offers a new opportunity to uncover the wreckers who can’t help but smirk.
Today, the NYT emits a thumbsucker on the Meaning of It All:
The Transition of Bruce Jenner: A Shock to Some, Visible to All
By SARAH LYALL and JACOB BERNSTEIN FEB. 6, 2015
Bruce Jenner has been an Olympic superstar, the hunk on the Wheaties box, a Playgirl cover boy, the author of inspirational sports books and a sometime actor and celebrity game-show contestant. In recent years, he has also been an ancillary but vivid participant in the bizarre public spectacle that is the Kardashian family.
Now Mr. Jenner, who muscled his way into American consciousness when he won the gold medal in the decathlon in the 1976 Montreal Summer Games and was anointed the World’s Greatest Athlete, may be entering the newest and most surprising phase of his multi-act career. Though he has not confirmed it, he is widely reported to be in the midst of making a transition from male to female.
… Dwight Stones, a former Olympic high-jump medalist who has known Mr. Jenner for years, said that his apparent transformation presented a “phenomenal opportunity.”
“I think he is going to have a tremendous impact on popular culture,” said Mr. Stones, who is now a broadcaster for NBC. “The parents of kids who are suppressing this, or trying to find a way to reveal themselves to the people they care about, are going to know who Bruce Jenner is. That might smooth the way or make the reality a little less difficult.”
Once again, let me toss out the possibility that Jenner, who has fathered two children with each of his three wives, may not have actually always felt like a girl on the inside. A decade ago, J. Michael Bailey, professor of psychology at Northwestern, offered an alternative explanation for highly masculine middle aged men who suddenly declare themselves transsexuals. He was methodically persecuted for spilling the beans in his book by highly masculine middle-aged transsexuals like economist McCloskey and computer scientist Conway.
I don’t know that Bailey’s is the only alternative explanation, but it’s at least a valuable complement to the “always felt like a girl on the inside” orthodoxy.
There’s a Sapir-Whorf aspect to this since we don’t have a category name for the kind of high profile m to f transsexuals like Wachowski (whose latest flop sci-fi movie is coming out soon), Jenner, Rothblatt, McCloskey, etc, nor for the other kind, who start out extremely effeminate. So, it’s easy for the propaganda organs to insinuate the idea that Bruce Jenner must have some poor feminine little boy who was always getting picked on the by the big mean bullies. Sure, it doesn’t make any sense, but that’s the category they’ve given us, so it’s a lot of cognitive work to rebel against it.
… But for people from his early days in sports, this latest development is a shock. They remember Mr. Jenner the gifted athlete, the big personality, the charismatic wheeler-dealer who parlayed a single towering Olympic achievement into a lifetime of success and fame beyond sports.
“He was a hell of an athlete,” said Keith Jackson, who covered Mr. Jenner’s Olympic triumph while working as a sportscaster in 1976. … In recent days, Mr. Jackson said, he has talked to friends and former colleagues who competed against Mr. Jenner. “They were just like me, with their mouths open,” he said.
Advocates for transgender issues declined in interviews to discuss specifics about Mr. Jenner’s situation, saying that until he announces what is going on, it is wrong to make any assumptions. But at the very least, they say, his prominence has provided momentum for a continuing national discussion on the topic.
Denise A. Norris, the director of the Institute for Transgender Economic Advancement, said that the United States was going through what she called a trans-peak, with the issue often in the news.
Like I said, World War T.
Besides Mr. Jenner, she mentioned Laverne Cox, a transgender actress in “Orange is the New Black,” and the online show “Transparent,” among other things.
“Right now we have a potential trans celebrity, and this creates a conversation,” Ms. Norris said of Mr. Jenner.
… The memoir “Redefining Realness,” by the transgender campaigner Janet Mock, became a New York Times best-seller last year. Last summer, Ms. Cox was on the cover of Time magazine, the star of an article titled “The Transgender Tipping Point.”
“If we look at historic trans-peaks, we get celebrities out there — they may be great, they may be bad — but regardless of what the celebrity is doing, this creates a conversation,” Ms. Norris said. “And then the activists come in and lock every bit of gain we can out of it.”
Mr. Jenner’s potential problems include the multitudes of people — and not just sympathetic transgender campaigners — who are trying to squeeze every bit of gain they can out of him. He has lived so long in the public eye that it will be difficult for him to harbor an expectation of secrecy now.
Not that he is seeking secrecy, at least from what is known so far. Mr. Jenner is reportedly in negotiations with Diane Sawyer over an exclusive tell-all interview. There are also talks of a reality television show about his transition.
… Marcia Ochoa, chairwoman of the feminist studies department at the University of California, Santa Cruz, said that much of the publicity swirling around Mr. Jenner, especially the obsession with his physical changes, had been ugly and prurient.
“It’s such a courageous act, if she’s going to be transitioning publicly and subjecting herself to that kind of ridicule,” Ms. Ochoa said, using the feminine pronoun to describe Mr. Jenner. “In some ways, this is changing the whole landscape of it, because ultimately it looks inhumane, and she is a person who deserves to be happy.”
One obvious trend is that extremely ambitious and attention hungry individuals have figured out how to exploit the sacralization of official victim groups to promote themselves even further. But, you aren’t really supposed to notice that.
And in other Bruce Jenner news, he was involved this afternoon in a fatal car crash on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu:
Deputies said a white Lexus was one of two vehicles that stopped abruptly in front of Jenner. He rear ended the Lexus by chain reaction, and pushed the vehicle into oncoming traffic.
The Lexus was then struck by a Hummer at the scene.
Authorities pronounced the elderly female driver of the Lexus dead at the scene.