"Aunty Nwando why does this woman sound like a man? Is she a man?" My baffled six year old nephew asked.
... Fed up with watching Paw Patrol and Dora the Explorer, I decided that I also deserved to watch what I wanted to watch and began to channel surf. I paused at E for a moment, long enough to watch the ad for I Am Cait. That was the first time I was seeing the ad/preview for the former Bruce Jenner's new sitcom. That was also the first time it occurred to me that they could change her cheek bones, they could change her lips, they could change her breast size, they could change her hair, but they could not change her voice. As I wondered how one could confidently convince oneself that they're now a woman in a voice so masculine and gravelly, my nephew broke into my thoughts and asked.
I wasn't surprised when he did. From the minute it started he left his toy automobile and squinted at the TV, trying to figure out what he was seeing. Lord let him lose interest, I prayed. God must have been busy handling other matters. I watched Caitlyn and thought to myself this is one unattractive woman! The skin on her face brings to mind the surface of a scouring brush, unfortunately one can't have skin replacement... I heard him say something about looking at the world around and one day he will be (seen as) normal. Then one of his very supportive daughters said, without much conviction, "you are normal", to which he assented; "I am the new normal"
Taaaah! Bruce biko mechi onu gi. Shataaaaap! Big breasts and long hair do not a woman make.
I have been indifferent and accepting of people's diverse individualities and challenges, including the transsexuals. But it does worry me, this "new" normal, this brave "new" world. One in which a little child struggles to comprehend things they normally shouldn't have to comprehend.
I've always encouraged my nephews to ask questions and more questions. I admire curiousity in kids and I encourage them to ask once something isn't quite clear. The arrogance of me! I'd always presumed I would have answers to any question someone so young could possibly ask.
But how does one answer "Why does she sound like a man?" When asked by a little child?
For a few seconds I struggled to decide whether to explain what happened (too long and would only lead to too many more questions, which I was very sure I wouldn't have answers to) or lie (unfortunately I couldn't think of any plausible lie, kids these days are too smart for cheap lies.), I eventually pretended not to hear him and changed the channel.
And that's why I'm asking for your help today. How do you explain Caitlyn Jenner to a six year old? How do you answer "why does this woman sound like a man? Is she a man?" And how to we preserve the (old) normal?
Ps, I dunno if it's me or if it's because of the Jenner/Kardashian clan. I empathized with transgenders like Chaz Bono and even Laverne Cox, every though I tend to agree with the good doctor who says this is a mental disorder. But I can't shake the feeling that this Bruce Jenner man is just an attention seeker milking this situation and making millions by the week...