Thursday, June 4, 2015

In Defense of Caitlyn Jenner: A Mormon Perspective

Ever since the debut of Caitlyn (formerly Bruce) Jenner's Vanity Fair cover I have seen mixed reactions in my social (media) life. There are those commending her for her courage and congratulating her. There are others doing quite the opposite, almost vehemently attacking her.

I have given a lot of thought on whether or not to write a blog post on such a political and religious hot topic. The increasing number of hurtful and ignorant posts written by many members of my own faith has caused me to carefully ponder and compose my thoughts in a way for people to love a little more, judge a little less.

I'll be the first to say that I don't understand the mental process or emotions that Caitlyn (I'm referring to Jenner by female pronouns per her request in the media) has experienced throughout her life. I don't understand it medically. From the gospel side of things-per The Family: A Proclamation to the World; I don't understand. It's not something that I can relate to, and obviously I wouldn't unless it was something I was experiencing as well.

I write not to condone or condemn Jenner's choice to fully transition from a man into a woman. I am here simply to defend her ability to choose. The same ability that we are all given as children of God here on this earth. You may not understand Jenner's decision, you may not agree with her decision. It may make you angry that the media is sensationalizing her story. But none of these things give clemency to ignorance, hate, or cruelty.

Elder Uchtdorf addressed this perfectly:

"This topic of judging others could actually be taught in a two-word sermon. When it comes to hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges, or wanting to cause harm, please apply the following:

"Stop it!

"It’s that simple. We simply have to stop judging others and replace judgmental thoughts and feelings with a heart full of love for God and His children. God is our Father. We are His children. We are all brothers and sisters. I don’t know exactly how to articulate this point of not judging others with sufficient eloquence, passion, and persuasion to make it stick. I can quote scripture, I can try to expound doctrine, and I will even quote a bumper sticker I recently saw. It was attached to the back of a car whose driver appeared to be a little rough around the edges, but the words on the sticker taught an insightful lesson. It read, “Don’t judge me because I sin differently than you.”

"We must recognize that we are all imperfect—that we are beggars before God. Haven’t we all, at one time or another, meekly approached the mercy seat and pleaded for grace? Haven’t we wished with all the energy of our souls for mercy—to be forgiven for the mistakes we have made and the sins we have committed?

"Because we all depend on the mercy of God, how can we deny to others any measure of the grace we so desperately desire for ourselves? My beloved brothers and sisters, should we not forgive as we wish to be forgiven?"

Jenner was 10 when she started dressing in women’s clothing. She was “fascinated by it all” but felt “scared to death somebody was going to find out.” Caitlyn kept that secret from everyone save for those who discovered accidentally. She finally told her whole family and the world at the age of 65. I mention this purely to ask those who read this and reflect; How many people do you know that may struggle with this and have not told a soul? How do you think the thoughtless and harsh words being said make them feel?

The greatest people I know are able to have different thoughts and opinions... but for a time and place. They respond to something and someone different that they may disagree with in love, just as the Savior would.

Think before you speak (or type). Love before you judge.