Photo Credit: Vanity Fair and Annie Leibovitz
As soon as Caitlyn Jenner announced her name and revealed the Vanity Fair cover yesterday, so-called Christians took to twitter to demonize her. There was a lot of the typical transphobic language that doesn’t deserve to be repeated. But one statement was new to me. It was a play off of the cover “Call Me Caitlyn”. This person declared that God would call her by her old name.
Here’s the thing: God has long been in the habit of changing people’s names. In fact, it’s a thread that stretches from the Hebrew Scriptures into the Christian Scriptures. All throughout our Sacred texts God changes people names. And it’s always done to highlight or reveal their true selves. God called renamed Jacob, Israel. Jesus renamed Simon to Peter, and the Twins to the Sons of Thunder. God renamed Saul, Paul. In every one of these moments a new facet of their identity was being revealed. They were being called to live into the truth of their identities and fulfill their callings in the world. One could make the claim that before they were renamed they were only showing part of who they were.
God is always in the business of helping people to become who they are. Jesus stated his mission on earth as to help people live an abundant life. What better signal of abundance than someone living into the wholeness of their identity?
I know that God calls Caitlyn by name and celebrates her. I know that God calls her beloved.
And I am thankful for the courage she has shown in revealing her identity to the world. The courage it takes to be vulnerable and honest (especially when you are the kind of public figure she is) is phenomenal.
Along with the folks refusing to call her by name, there were also those who critiqued the cover photos. I get it. There are a lot of critiques to be made about gender normatively and expectations, the ways that women are pressured to look, the commodification of identity, and so much more. But just for a moment let’s step back.
I remember the years of hating photos of myself. I remember the years of feeling like clothing was something to be despised. I remember the years of feel uncomfortable in my skin.
And I remember the moment, after I had my chest surgery, when I saw myself in the mirror for the first time and recognized myself. The sense of relief was stunning. It felt like I was taking a deep breath for the first time since puberty.
I imagine the fun Caitlyn must have had doing this photo shoot. I imagine how she must have felt glamorous and beautiful. And maybe it’s one of the first times that she’s seen a photo of herself that she’s proud of it. I can’t help but celebrate that. I can’t help but smile as I think of her feeling free and at home in her own skin.
I celebrate every person who is able to live more into their own truth. I also want to work for more access for every person for being able to access the medical care they need and want. I want to operate from a place of abundance where everyone has more access. I can hold all of these things at the same time.
I celebrate and work and pray and cry and mourn and educate and work some more until we can all be celebrated.
In this moment I celebrate Caitlyn; her vibrancy and honesty, her courage, and I call her by her true name.