“As they are now, so will you be, wigged, singed, perfumesprayed, ricepowdered, with smoothshaven armpits. Tape measurements will be taken next your skin. You will be laced with cruel force into vicelike corsets of soft dove coutille, with whalebone busk, to the diamond trimmed pelvis, the absolute outside edge, while your figure, plumper than when at large, will be restrained in nettight frocks, pretty two ounce petticoats and fringes and things stamped, of course, with my houseflag, creations of lovely lingerie …”
— james joyce, ulysses, “circe” episode
Let’s suppose I had a friend — male, mid 60s, sincerely questioning whether transition is the route to go after a lifetime of confessed confusion (including an aborted run on hormones thirty years ago). He wants to discuss things openly, yet requests I refer to him by his male name, male pronouns, and so forth. He shyly plays with his hair during our conversations, coyly suggests an interiority of womanly-feelings — even declares that, for all purposes and intents, he’s a woman. (What purposes and whose intents, I muse quietly.) He shows me collateral proof via his wardrobe, including a sizable collection of gourmet cocktrails dresses that Jay Gatsby may have compiled were he a crossdresser.All of this as an evidence-based commitment to the intangible, invisible, undefinable ‘woman within’. “Her/me”, he keeps saying, the feminine object of ‘her’ readily assimilated into the subjective claim of ‘me’. We shake hands and I wish him well. Go at your own speed, I suggest.
Two weeks later he’s on the cover of a major fashion magazine, decked out in Marilyn Monroe’s underwear, airbrushed and siliconed into abstract fantasy — a flight into the sublime passivity of The Woman as object and subject simultaneously. As if Coppélia weren’t just something the doctor built — but built for himself to become.
Or, as a wise friend of mine on FaceBook pointed out, a lesbian veteran of multiple decades in the struggle for women’s lib: “Men clearly do femininity so much better than women do. And why not? They invented it, after all.”
Fear not, ladies, Caitlyn Jenner will show you how to gender.
Jenner will show you what real womanhood is.
And you will like it.