I am NOT Cait.

I love medical students.  They’re just crazy enough to do what I did 25 years ago, but haven’t yet had the idealism beaten out of them.  They are young, driven, and honestly, a hell of a lot smarter than I was at the time, let alone now.  Meeting with them, I see their stars rising as mine slowly sets, and yet they afford me opportunity to feel on top of a social situation.   “You know that thing you want to do?  That you are betting your entire future on?  That you think about, dream about and obsess about until you can nearly taste it?  I’ve been there.  Done that.”1

So, when my psychiatrist asked if he could interview me in front of his medical students, who were studying gender and sexuality, I allowed as how it sounded like a lot of fun.   I was expecting a handful of students, but ended up with the entire first year class–50 or so–a much better number for me.  I am substantially more comfortable in front of a crowd than I am within an intimate circle, and I was definitely going to need to get comfortable.  I understood going in that I was a rara avis to be dissected, and that their scientific curiosity would express itself in some very personal, intimate questions.

The hour did not disappoint.  One student’s brilliant question2 gave me early occasion to point out that, contrary to worn cliché, there is such a thing as a stupid question.  Without further clarification on my part, the students artfully avoided the most cringeworthy ones.  Still, this was a psychiatry class, and they did ask tough, personal questions.  When did I know?  Were there earlier inklings?  How had my sex life been affected?  How did we manage to stay together as a family?  Was I having problems at work?  And what do I think about Caitlyn Jenner…

Just as in 2016 all Americans are expected to have an opinion on Donald Trump, so also must all trans-people be ready with an opinion about Cait Jenner.  I tell you now what I related to them then–that coming out is hard, and that coming out in front of a billion or more people must be harder still; that I recognize that she is a shameless self-promoter, but that I am old enough to know that this has been part of her DNA since at least 1976; that trans people don’t undergo personality transplants.  We work out gender shift within the context of who we already are.  I think she has made some missteps, but that so have we all, and I wouldn’t call her out.

Until this headline…

Caitlyn Jenner Wants to Be ‘Trans Ambassador’ for Ted Cruz

WTF.  I mean seriously…what the fucking fuck?

Being Ted Cruz’s transgender ambassador would be roughly equivalent to being the Teletubby ambassador to Mordor.  Cruz regularly equates transgender people with sexual predators.  He makes appearances and receives support from pastors who are not just anti-gay, but thoroughly on record as wanting to rid the nation of LGBT people.  He devotes particular political energy to railing against protections for transgender children.  That his five year old “knows there is a difference between boys and girls” is a regular punch line in his smarmy stump speeches.  Some people are beyond persuasion.  The best thing one can do regarding Cruz on transgender issues is to fight like hell to make sure he never gets elected.

I empathize with Cait as a fellow sojourner…a late-transitioning MTF transsexual who managed for a long season to bear the unwelcome burdens of masculine expectation, always longing for a different one to carry.  I understand that she needs to be her own person and follow her own beliefs. Nevertheless, I cringe when she has four minute conversations with notoriously bigoted pastors, then acts as if some major breakthrough has occurred.  Or when she visits with urban underclass women facing pressures she could never imagine, helpfully suggesting that maybe they should just “get a job.”  Now she expresses her immense admiration for Ted Cruz and wants to help him on transgender issues.

There are good reasons why transgender people are wary of the GOP.  Without a single exception, proposals to limit transgender rights have arisen from Republican legislatures or executives.  We understand the codes.  “Protecting our children” means kicking trans kids out of sports, clubs or bathrooms.  “Defending the family” means legally invalidating trans or gay partnerships.  “Defending religious liberty” means enacting laws which allow people to justify discrimination against LGBT people on the basis of their beliefs.3These things are not just coming from the far right fringes.  They are mainstream Republican policies.  They want judges who will “strictly interpret the Constitution,” by which they mean bolstering the 2nd Amendment (guns) and gutting the 14th (equal protection under the law for all citizens).  Candidates for major office actually promote their hostility to transgender rights as positives, egged on by their rank and file.  I’m sure just as many trans people come from conservative backgrounds as from progressive, but it’s damned hard to stay there if you are paying attention.  Cait clearly is not.

Through no fault of her own4, the general public sees Cait as a leader if not the leader of the American trans community.  Well, I’m not Cait, and many within the trans community are becoming frustrated with the extent to which she does not seem to grasp the issues which bear on us most acutely.

Why should she?  This is all new for her.  Coming out for Jenner has brought social promotion, positive attention and a resurgence of financial potential.  It usually does the opposite.  She is totally unconstrained by the often prohibitive costs of medical care.  Although I certainly recognize her courage, no other trans person I know has ever received an award for it.  For most of us, being trans isn’t a series of road trips and adventures with our posse in The Mystery Machine.

My best guess is that her path is horrible.  From time to time I wish she’d spend a bit more time figuring herself out before she opines to the press.  Then I remember that the only difference between her microphone and my blog is the number of people paying attention.  She relishes the spotlight, but I doubt she could escape it either.  I take a breath, continue to wish her well and give her due props for enduring transition under the microscope.  Still, I can’t sit quietly when she backs a smug, ill-tempered, transphobic bigot for our nation’s highest office.  Even from a sister, this is unforgivable.

Well, almost.


  1. Kicked its ass.
  2. “If I were to meet you socially, how could I put you at ease?”
  3. Not serving transgender patrons in a restaurant, for example.
  4. Well, mostly.  She does enjoy the limelight and the lectern.

4 thoughts on “I am NOT Cait.

  1. Julie Harmon

    If you were to write the questions that you would LIKE people to know about or ask of you, what would the first 3 questions be and why? I think that you were incredibly brave to have agreed to field questions from Medical students. I see you as a very private soul, not really someone who would be comfortable being drilled with questions. It was very nice of you to agree to do that.

  2. Bert VanAntwerpen

    Hi Renae,
    I just located your blogspot and am pleased to say, “The two, the proud, the Connecticut crowd” has a new identity. Blessings! PV

  3. Geneviève

    Hi Renae, not a post but an introduction and invitation. My name is Geneviève (né Kevin) Schulz. My electrologist (I’m her first trans client), Bonnie Fullerton, who co-owns Prairie Pond Vineyard & Winery, mentioned you as a New Prague celebrity, so I looked you up and was pleased to discover your blog and music. My wife, Lynne, and I live in Apple Valley and have three children in college. I am an engineering design manager https://www.linkedin.com/in/kevin-schulz-357b173 and Lynne a CPA https://www.linkedin.com/in/lynne-schulz-59617160.

    I suspect we have more than a few things to talk about, so I thought I would reach out. Lynne and I would like to meet you and your wife. Possibilities might include a drink at Prairie Pond (I need to visit Bonnie’s place sometime), dinner at Ranchero Supper Club (another on my list) or, if you prefer to escape the fishbowl, dessert at our home in Apple Valley. Pie baking is my specialty. We happen to have no plans this weekend (except Lynne working taxes) and next weekend so think about it and email me.

    We (well, me primarily) are trying to network with other trans couples. Couples in Transition https://couplesintransition.org/, which we just checked out, seems to be having an identity crisis (go figure…).

    If you think Renée is difficult for Americans, try Geneviève (I do prefer the French pronunciation). Lynne even struggles with it. Geneviève is from Old German meaning “of the race of women” or “woman of the tribe”.


    1. rmaddy Post author

      I think “New Prague Celebrity” is my new favorite sobriquet ever. Onto the business card it goes, right under “Hack Musician”…

      Timely intro, since I just saw your Facebook friend invite and asked Kathy, “Who the hell is this?” Pleased to make your acquaintance. I will do my utmost to recall my HS French and nail the “Jh”. “Renae” never gets mispronounced, but it invariably gets misspelled. I suspected that this would be the case going in, and chose the highly anglicized spelling to signal as clearly as possible that I was not René, a displaced continental in a sporty hat who loved dry wines and vile cheese.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *