From Bruce to Caitlyn

I started writing this one about three hours ago, and I chose the "this is why I hate Nigerians angle." It's a fairly easy one. You take the opinions of some lunatics and blow them up, or you generalise like your generalisations will make you seem clever. It would have got the point across, but I do not think that I'd have been comfortable with it. I decided to do things a little bit differently. I decided to write a blog post that didn't scold anyone, because for you to live in the present, you've got to acknowledge that there are people that are not the same as you. You've got to accept that your experience of humanity is extremely uncommon. And you've got to accept that you have no real control over anyone that isn't you.

When I heard that Bruce was thinking about switching genders, I do not remember that I felt any type of way about it. It was just this other thing that was happening somewhere in the world, that had little or nothing to do with me. You know the angle. It's the not my business, not my life, not my problem angle. As far as angles go, it isn't a particularly good one. It denotes an apathy about life in general that makes it almost impossible for you to do any real good in the world. One moment you're applying your non-confrontational logic to Caitlyn Jenner and the next, you're being dismissive about ISIS. Of course there are differences between the two but your non-committal way of dealing with the issues that affect the general human population protects you. No one expects you to really do anything about poverty, or hunger, as long as the people in your immediate surroundings are free from these things. No one will look at you and ask you why you sat down and did nothing.

Now, I can't speak for you, but I can certainly speak for me, and I'll be the first one to tell you that I do not completely understand transsexualism. I cannot tell you why he decided to make the jump from Bruce to Caitlyn but I don't think that I need to. You've probably heard it said time and time again that you can love someone that you don't understand, so why should this be any different? I do not completely understand it because even though I know what it is, I have not lived it. It's almost the same way that I cannot understand why several people think that his decision is a sign that the devil is among us, or one of the great events that Saint John recorded in the book of Revelations. The difference between the two is that the people who think the latter are looking for Religion in all the wrong places, and the people who think the former are lacking in education.

The thing to know is that in 2015, willful ignorance will not solve your problems. Just because something doesn't fly under your nose all the time doesn't mean it isn't there. And we mustn't close our minds so fiercely that we cannot be accepting of difference. You will deal with things that you imagined only happened elsewhere. If I were to draw up any example from my life that's only very remotely similar it'd be my experience with depression. There was one time I was talked about it with my mum, and that conversation went a little like this.

Enter Mama Afam, and Afam

Mama Afam: So suicide was actually something you were going to go through with?

Afam: Yes.

Mama Afam: But you know what happens to people who kill themselves right?

Afam: Yes. They go to hell.

Mama Afam: And this is something you were fine with?

Afam: Yes. Hell was the only suitable punishment for me. How can you wake up in the morning, and not be able to do anything simply because you can't do anything? Doesn't a person like that deserve to die?

Two years later she told me of a boy that I didn't know that shot himself in the head. I was sad. News like that always makes me sad, because death like that is actually preventable. If you separate issues from their stigma then they can be dealt with. If you don't, then chances are, you won't see the worst coming. After she told me, we had a conversation that was similar to the one we'd had two years before.

Afam: Do you think he'll go to hell?

Mama Afam: God is merciful. If he was unwell, then the sickness killed him.

What I'm getting at is if even by a fraction his transition has made his experience of being human better, then we should be happy for him. If the journey from Bruce to Caitlyn helps anyone else confront what they're going through, we should celebrate it. Because at the end of it all, it's the story of a 65 year old man/woman who hasn't given up when so many would have fallen into despair.

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