Vail Daily column: Why ESPN got it right choosing Caitlyn Jenner |

Vail Daily column: Why ESPN got it right choosing Caitlyn Jenner

Don Rogers
Laura Mahaffy/ | The Union

Dear Caitlyn:

Congratulations on the transformation, and the ESPY, of course. Glad you are doing what you want to do. Being who you want to be. Who you believe you need to be.

Ain’t America great?

So, you’re a beacon for others who don’t fit the “normal” peg in the continuum of gender identity. I suppose there is a form of courage in wearing a dress, putting on makeup, expressing your feminine self in public while otherwise a guy. It’s just different from what we might ordinarily think of bravery in battle, coping with terminal illness, standing before tanks in protest.

But sure, facing deep fears, I get it. Even ultimately silly ones — what others might think, breaking from herd instinct and group think, being at the wrong end of stigmas and reputations and all that nonsense. The stuff of dogs in packs, what makes teams and corporations and societies tick (and fall apart).

This goes beyond scorn for those who stray from the pack, especially if strangely. Suicide and murder indeed are serious consequences at the far reaches of upsetting convention about what’s “natural.”

It shouldn’t require courage for you and others like you to be yourselves. There’s no good reason for your choice to bother the rest of us in the slightest. Really, so what?

OK, I must confess I enjoy Rush all knotted up and some feminists in a twist over your metamorphosis.

For the talk show host, of course, it’s the usual ideological conundrums running through the ditto culture’s blender. That you are Republican politically as well makes this all the more interesting. Are you a RINO now for deviating in this instance? I wonder if you will join the majority of women who vote for Democrats these days.

And wow, have you managed to piss off the old guard feminists or what? Elinor Burkett’s review of the new you in The New York Times was scathing. All Burkett and her sisters in arms’ effort to push this boulder that there’s no difference between a man and a woman’s mind but culture’s imprints, well, you blew all that up with your “female brain” and looking forward to chats about nails and hair.

Speaking of female brains, Annie Leibovitz’s cover photo of a gorgeous you for Vanity Fair was just the last straw for Burkett’s crowd. Oh the outrage.

To think you once were a sex symbol for women, the envy of guys whose better halves swooned over you as a man. Your natural athleticism honed to gold in the overall manliest of Olympic contests, the decathlon. Your fame ever since. All very impressive.

You capitalized as well as anyone could on the medal you won way back in 1976.

You and a few others — ironically enough, including the Kardashian clan — pretty much are famous for being famous. I mean, how can I pay no attention whatsoever and yet still seem to know all about you? Sounds like an indictment of us and our media, doesn’t it?

Now you’ve gone and done something as noteworthy as winning that gold medal four decades ago.

I don’t believe friends and family who take pains to insist they don’t care, whatever, why the fuss, big deal. Usually this comes with a roll of the eyes, a shake of the head, a snort of disgust.

I’ll confess I don’t get it, either. Whatever my brain is, whether genetically wired or only our culture makes me so, it holds insufficient understanding of your new gender. Otherwise, surely I’d spend a lot less time in the domestic doghouse.

What is it with our quick moral judgments about your change, though? In America, at least, we profess to place our highest value in being who we really are, applaud loudest for the individual overcoming all obstacles.

But the failure to fit in is unforgivable.

This is why you qualify for an award about courage. Any shame in that is on us.

Publisher Don Rogers can be reached at and 970-748-2920.

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