Caitlyn Jenner, Bruce Jenner and Happiness



         Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner has taken over social media by having a surgery to look like a woman and Jenner says this is what brings him/her happiness. So then why would Christians not want Jenner to be happy? Why do Christians always seem to try to stifle people’s happiness whether they be gay, or want to have sex outside marriage, or want to drink to excess, or make us be virtuous which is hard and takes effort with little pleasure? Are we Christians Hell-bent on making sure everyone is miserable? Do we want everyone to give up on happiness or maybe just realize happiness is actually an illusion (similar to what Buddhists believe)?

             I think we have to clearly define what we mean by happiness because this is the crux of our discussion. Typically when we discuss happiness we mean something emotional. For example, 

  1. Jenner wants to go from a man to looking like a woman because Jenner believes he/she will feel happier as a woman. 
  2. A young couple wants to have sex because it feels good not just physically but it also emotionally, we feel “in love”. 
  3. Getting drunk makes us feel good because we have less inhibitions and more confidence to do things or say things we usually wouldn’t, which makes us feel more free.            

All three of these are examples of happiness that are emotionally based in different ways. In all three cases we perceive ourselves differently and perceive the world around us differently. This perceived new confidence is what makes me use that very vague term “feel”. We feel good, we feel happy, we think the world is better and we are better. 

                The problem is these feelings are merely perception and not reality. In reality nothing much has changed. When you are drunk you are still you and the world doesn’t change. Anything you have the confidence to do drunk you could do sober but you simply choose not to. If you have sex you are still you and the world has not changed even though it may seem that things are different or that you are different. Jenner has not changed and the world around Jenner has not changed. People don’t want to condemn Jenner because, “now she is happy!” The question is for how long does this emotionally based happiness last? With alcohol you wake up with a hangover, with sex the feeling wears off and you want to have sex again. With Transgender surgery, well the same thing happens…

Long-Term Follow-Up of Transsexual Persons Undergoing Sex Reassignment Surgery: Cohort Study in Sweden


Persons with transsexualism, after sex reassignment, have considerably higher risks for mortality, suicidal behaviour, and psychiatric morbidity than the general population. Our findings suggest that sex reassignment, although alleviating gender dysphoria, may not suffice as treatment for transsexualism, and should inspire improved psychiatric and somatic care after sex reassignment for this patient group.

             This is the conclusion of a scientific study that looked at people who have had transgender surgery in the long term. The study suggests “psychiatric and somatic care after sex reassignment surgery”, but what about before? It makes more sense that the problem is in the brain not the body.

             I believe Gender Identity Disorder is a real thing, and that it is very serious. However, I don’t believe the best solution is any kind of surgery. If someone feels that they are truly a bird deep down and wanted to graft feathers into their arms and fashion a beak to their face , would we let them? If someone wanted to cut off their limbs because they felt they were truly an amputee, should we chop them off? This may sound like a ridiculous analogy but BIID is a real disorder that was covered by the National Post.

Body integrity identity disorder (BIID, also referred to as amputee identity disorder[1]) is a psychological disorder wherein sufferers feel they would be happier living as an amputee.

The key to all this depends on our definition of happiness. If happiness is not the emotionally charged good feelings that we experience, then what is happiness? The Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it nicely,

“The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for.”
– CCC 27

If we believe God is our ultimate happiness then no merely physical things will ever make us really feel any different, not alcohol, not sex and not surgery.

             I write this because I care about Bruce Jenner (and yes I’m going to call him Bruce now). He deserves to be happy, but not a superficial, fleeting, emotionally based happiness. He deserves to be truly happy, not just feel happy and I believe the only way for him to find that is to find God. I hope and pray that the journey he is on through this sex change thing eventually leads him back to God. I think one thing we have to remember as Christians is that just as physical appearance doesn’t define who you are, neither does the morality of your decisions. When we speak of Bruce Jenner, we must remember that he is on his own faith journey and that it is God’s job to draw Jenner to God. Some people need to do something that we may see clearly is completely wrong for them, but they need to in order to figure themselves out and find God. Let us focus on our own lives, our own relationship with God so that we may be able to find that true happiness and share it graciously with others, especially those who are unhappy.



            With the discussion on dress codes in school, but more so with the larger rhetoric about “my body, my choice”, I’d like to express my opinion on the subject. The basic theme I continually hear suggests that “Men should be solely responsible for treating women with respect.” I’d like to start by saying men are responsible for treating women with respect, but not solely. A teacher in a classroom deserves respect from their students because of who they are i.e. a teacher. Women (and men) deserve respect because of who they are i.e. a person. However, when a teacher is in a classroom, although the teacher always deserves respect, they do not always get respect. If you saw a teacher who had a class out of control and the teacher just continued to teach as if they were all behaving, you would say that it is at least partially the teachers fault for not controlling the class. Of course we would think that the kids should behave and of course it is ultimately their fault for misbehaving, however we would also say “they’re just being kids and the teacher is not doing anything to help the situation.” What we mean by that is that it is in a kids nature to be loud and active if they are not being properly disciplined by an authority figure. Furthermore, it is the teacher’s responsibility to demand respect from the class. 


            Similarly, if a man looks lustfully at a woman it is ultimately his fault, but not solely his fault. It is in a man’s (and a woman’s) nature to see a member of the opposite sex as a sexual being, because… we all are sexual beings! As Saint John Paul II said in “Love and Responsibility” 

“Unfortunately man is not such a perfect being so that the sight of the body of a person, especially of a person of the other sex, awakens in him only a disinterested fondness that is followed by simple love for that person. Actually, what it also awakens is “desire,” i.e., a wish to “use” that is concentrated on the values of sexus while disregarding the essential value of the person. And this must be taken into account.”
– Karol Wojyla, “Love and Responsibility”

Since we are sexual beings, we must act accordingly. This means (both men and women) recognizing our sexuality as something very real and very powerful. 


         Therefore women DO have a responsibility to try to avoid awakening a man’s natural sexual desire by exploiting their own sexuality. Conversely, it is the man’s responsibility to keep his sexual desires in check (and vice versa!). What it really means is that men and women are co-responsible for respecting each others dignity. Being co-responsible is what equality is really about, which is why I cannot subscribe to most forms of Feminism. Recently it has felt as if the prominent form of Feminism that is taking over the media is the kind that blames men for everything and women don’t have to take any responsibility. I believe this is what the whole issue of dress codes in schools is really about. I (ironically) have no respect for a woman who paints FEMEN across her bare breasts and runs around screaming obscenities about how they want to be respected. I do have respect for a woman who uses her position of fame to speak her views civilly at the U.N. like Emma Watson did (even though I might disagree with some of her views). I have respect for Taylor Swift who said in an interview that she recognizes that the way she dresses has an influence on young impressionable girls. 

            If women want to be respected, if they want to be seen as a whole person and not simply a set of body parts, then they must demand respect from men. Demanding respect by taking more clothes off or starting a Facebook petition (because those always go somewhere…) is not what I am talking about. Demand respect by helping men respect you. Cover up parts of your body that might lead a man into looking at you only as a sexual object and not as a person. Don’t dangle a steak in front of a hungry lion and then get mad at the lion for desiring to eat the steak! Women, if you want to be seen for the beautiful person you are, for your personality, for what’s inside and for what is deeper than your physical appearance, then show that off instead of your body. I can’t promise every man will respect you, (some will never and that is a very important issue that needs to be dealt with) but the men who are real men, the men who matter will have the chance to see the deeper, more true you.