Transgender-related stuff seems to be everywhere these days. I used to think that I was just more in tune to it, but am beginning to realize that is not the case. The campaign to increase the general public’s knowledge and understanding truly is everywhere.
As such, and a little late to the game, I finally binge-watched “Transparent” as the first of two blizzards in one week pummeled my house. For those unfamiliar, it is a new series on Amazon which shares the story of a neurotic Jewish family who are so self-involved as to be oblivious to the fact that their father is not who they thought he was. Mort, the family patriarch, after years of squelching his desire and need, is transitioning to a life as her true self – a woman named Maura. As much as I love Jeffrey Tambor and his portrayal of Maura, I, the mother of a transgender child on an admittedly very primal and superficial level, felt broken-hearted watching this attractive-enough  man morph into a true meiskeit. I wish it didn’t matter, but it does.
Despite the make-up, hair extensions and dress, Maura’s masculine features, from face to feet, make it impossible for her to blend in. I don’t care that this woman has a penis. Nor do I care that she has an Adam’s Apple and a face that needs to be shaven every day. I do, however, care deeply about the very real challenges, as a physically unappealing, homely woman, that she will face in her quest to conquer the world, incredible fortitude on board notwithstanding.
And then we have Bruce Jenner. While his transition has been widely speculated for years, it is now in both People and US Magazine: therefore it must be real. Bruce, a man-made famous by his incredible athletic abilities and then his almost more incredible (with its most literal definition) role of Dad to the Kardashian brood is not content to officially embark on his journey with any semblance of privacy, rather he is (allegedly), wait for it…going to be the title character in a reality show tagging along for all to see. It will create a circus setting him and his family up for ridicule and (harsh) judgment. I don’t like it. Not one little bit.
Back when I was growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, gay was something we all knew about but it was never discussed. What was there to talk about really? File under: who gives a damn that he is sleeping with him or she with her? Now we, as a society, having somewhat mastered the whole gay thing, are learning more and trying to navigate the transgender paradigm. And, while I have a (not necessarily equal) admiration for and great anxiety over Maura, Bruce and the scope of their reach, I fear that they are both in danger of becoming caricatures of themselves. By dint of their fame and notoriety, they are both so powerful in their ability to potentially sway the masses’ perception of the transgender path as to be dangerous. In fact, for me, the Golden Globe wins (Jeffrey Tambor – Best Lead actor in a Comedy and Transparent – Best Comedy) are, themselves, teetering on a slippery slope having been nominated in the Comedy category. Their voice is loud, but what is it saying?
It may be unkind of me, but I am just going to say it: neither Maura nor Bruce present as attractive woman. I would like to think that their physical appearance doesn’t matter. But it does. I would like to think that we are evolved enough in our society to overlook their unconventional look. But we aren’t. I would like to think that they will not be subjected to loud whispers, quiet harassment and general discomfort. But they will be. That frightens me and, if I am being honest, makes me uncomfortable. And if I am uncomfortable, I can only imagine…
 Really, is there any other kind?
 …and that is a charitable and generous assessment
 That’s Yiddish for: an unattractive woman
 Some of us more out of necessity than others
 Yes, I am aware that Maura is a fictional character. She is also a powerful one and her story is one that has legs, particularly on the heels of the show having won the Golden Globe for Best Comedy or Musical and Jeffrey Tambor for Comedy Lead Actor.
 I’ve not been made privy to a name change