Blogs Coffee House Culture House Daily

Call me Caitlyn or else: the rise of authoritarian transgender politics

2 June 2015

11:10 AM

2 June 2015

11:10 AM

The Vanity Fair photo of Bruce Jenner in a boob-enhancing swimsuit is being described as iconic. Bruce, one-time American athlete, now wants to be known as Caitlyn, having recently undergone some gender transitioning. And he’s using the cover of the latest Vanity Fair to make his ‘debut as a woman’. Next to the headline ‘Call me Caitlyn’, he’s all photoshopped svelteness, pampered hair and look-at-me breasts, in what many experts are already describing as ‘an iconic image in magazine history’.

The photo is indeed iconic. And not just in the shallow celeb meaning of that word. It’s iconic in the traditional sense, too, in that it’s being venerated as an actual icon, a devotional image of an apparently holy human. It’s an image we’re all expected to bow down to, whose essential truth we must imbibe; an image you question or ridicule at your peril, with those who refuse to genuflect before it facing excommunication from polite society. Yesterday’s Jennermania confirms how weirdly authoritarian, even idolatrous, trans politics has become.


There is a palpable religiosity to the wild hailing of Bruce/Caitlyn as a modern-day saint, a Virgin Mary with testicles. Within four hours, more than a million people were following Bruce/Caitlyn’s new Twitter account, hanging on her words like the expectant horde waiting for Moses at the foot of Mount Sinai. Her every utterance, all banal celeb-speak, was retweeted tens of thousands of times. Celebs and commentators greeted her as a kind of messiah. ‘We’ve been waiting for you with open arms’, said an overexcited editor at Buzzfeed. Across the Twittersphere Caitlyn was worshipped as a ‘goddess’, a ‘goddess in human form’, a ‘goddess made manifest on Earth’. ‘Caitlyn Jenner could fucking stab me right now and leave me for dead and I’d die fucking overjoyed we are not WORTHY OF THIS GODDESS’, said one trans tweeter, and she wasn’t joking.


In the media, the talk is of how Caitlyn and her iconic likeness might give an adrenalin shot to humanity itself. A writer for the Guardian describes Caitlyn as a ‘queen’ and instructs us to ‘bow down, bitches’, telling us her icon on the front of Vanity Fair is ‘life-affirming’. Treating Caitlyn as a kind of Christ figure, only in a push-up bra rather than smock, Ellen DeGeneres says this goddess brings ‘hope for the world’, and we should all try to be ‘as brave as Caitlyn’. Susan Sarandon celebrated Bruce/Caitlyn’s mysterious ‘rebirth’ while Demi Moore thanked him/her for sharing with humanity ‘the gift of your beautiful authentic self’. A writer for the Huff Post says the name Caitlyn means ‘pure’ – ‘what a perfect meaning, right?’ Truly, yes, for St Caitlyn, reborn to educate us all, is most pure.

With its millions of agog followers, its worship of an iconic image, its insistence we all ‘bow down’, the Cult of Caitlyn gives Catholic mariolatry a run for its money in the blind-devotion stakes. And of course, as with all venerated icons, anyone who refuses to recognise the truth of Caitlyn’s Vanity Fair cover has faced mob punishment or finger-wagging corrections of their goddess-defying blasphemy.

So when Drake Bell, a former American child star, tweeted ‘Sorry… still calling you Bruce’, he became the subject of global fury. The Cult of Caitlyn went insane. Even after Bell deleted his blasphemous comment, tweeters mauled him, suggesting he deactivate his Twitter account, or better still, ‘deactivate his life’. Meanwhile, a Twitter robot called @she_not_he has been set up to correct any ‘misgendering’ of Caitlyn. Winning high praise from much of the media, this bot is ‘scrubbing Twitter, looking for anyone who uses the “he” pronoun in conjunction with Caitlyn Jenner’s name’. The bot’s inventor says he is delighted that these misgendering miscreants have been ‘apologetic in their replies to the bot’, and ‘some have even deleted their original tweet’.

In short, they’ve repented. Just as those who denied the divinity of Christ were once expected to recant their heresy, so those who deny the gender of Caitlyn Jenner are hounded by bots into apologising for their moral error. The American gay-rights group GLAAD is scouring the mainstream media for any use of the word ‘he’ in relation to Caitlyn, like a modern incarnation of the Vatican’s Index Librorum Prohibitorum, which monitored the public sphere for any less-than-gushing commentary on God. It has issued speech-policing guidelines for the media. ‘DON’T refer to her by her former name… DO avoid using male pronouns and Caitlyn’s prior name, even when referring to events in her past.’

The worship of Caitlyn, and the hectoring of anyone who refuses to scrape before her icon, has graphically exposed the intolerant edge to trans thinking. The insistence that we not only refer to Bruce/Caitlyn as ‘she’ but also project this backwards – recognising, in the words of the Guardian, that she has ‘always been a woman’ – is borderline Orwellian. It’s a rewriting of history, a memory-holing of old inconvenient facts. Strikingly, the Guardian writer says people like Bruce/Caitlyn have ‘always been women… even when they were “fathering” children’. Notice it’s the ‘fathering’ bit that is in scare quotes, suggesting it wasn’t real, while the description of Bruce as a woman is treated as an incontestable truth. War is peace, freedom is slavery, man is woman.

This trans Orwellianism is increasingly finding expression in the law itself. In Ireland last year, a trans woman won the right to have her sex changed to female on her actual birth certificate. This is alarming. The midwife who said ‘This is a boy’ when this trans woman was born was telling the truth, and that truth was recorded on a public document. No matter — truth and history are putty in the hands of the trans lobby. Just as Big Brother thinks it can force people to accept that 2 + 2 = 5, so trans activists want us to chant: ‘Bruce Jenner is a woman and has always been a woman, even when she was producing sperm, impregnating women, and winning gold medals in men’s sports.’ And the small matter of Bruce’s birth certificate, his proven paternity of children? Forget all that; shove it down the memory hole.

What the Cult of Caitlyn confirms, beyond a doubt, is that there is nothing progressive in trans politics. It is shrill, censorious, unreal, demanding compliance, punishing dissent. Progressives should reject it. Jesus was not the Son of God, Bruce Jenner is not a woman, and, I’m sorry, but 2 + 2 = 4, and it always will.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.

Show comments
  • Destroyed Father

    I’m so glad to see someone articulate this for me. Our family and my marriage have been exceptionally damaged when our middle-school daughter suddenly came out as trans with no prior clues. She stated that “she feels uncomfortable in her body” and “likes to wear baggy clothes” so she’s transgender. We love her but disagree with her self diagnosis. Three psychologists and a depression diagnosis later, we’re surrounded by enabling lunatics while I watch my beautiful little girl destroy herself. I know there are some people with gender identity issues from a young age, but my daughter was “normal” one day and supposedly trans the next. No matter how much we try to help her, the internet forums and YouTube have become the ultimate authority and we’re the bigots. This seems to be some type of culture-induced syndrome in middle schools now (several of her friends are supposedly trans). I just hope that this mass hysteria can calm down before I lose everything.

  • Nicky

    Bruce Jenner is still a Dude. No amount of Surgery or Hormones will ever erase his XY male DNA. He will always be a Dude with XY Male DNA.

  • AP Terhune

    What wackadoodles. I can’t believe you people are still talking about this. Back in June this forum was filled with unhinged TERFs screaming about “mutiliating surgeries!” which made no sense since Jenner is still pre-op ( I think). Just leave it alone, people.

  • Devin

    If legal documents and identity can be retroactively changed, then they *all* should be retroactively changed, not just those that are convenient. Were you in a heterosexual marriage? You’re now in a gay marriage (if your state allows that), with whatever benefits and drawbacks that entails. This of course can not include a default legal relationship with the child, since a woman can of course not have paternity over a child. Did you compete in sporting events as a man? That was fraud. Give back your metals.

  • Truth Sets Us Free

    Good news: Jenner has pushed forward earlier projections of “peak trans” and more people are disgusted with the double-speak and unreality of the “trans” edicts than pre-Caitlyn. He’s done more to break the spell than anyone realized at the time of his purported “ascension” – with a little help from Rachel Dolezal.

  • steve weatherbe

    There is plenty of evidence that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and if O’Neill has evidence to the contrary, he gives us none. But there is plenty of evidence that Caitlyn Jenner is a guy

  • Neil Saunders

    We can’t say that we weren’t warned about the rise of the narcissist, pseudo-left:

  • TopBumpkin

    O’Neill only got one thing wrong – Jesus is the Son of God.

  • Peter

    1. Jesus is the son of God and your judge and jury. Bruce Jenner is a mutilated man the Zionist media is using to further degrade society.

  • KimWilde

    Bruce is and always will be bruce ! Until you can remove the DNA it’s a bruce !

  • Marilynne L. Mellander

    Wouldn’t want to be this person when after death…the comeuppance is acomin’

  • Neil Saunders
  • Helene

    Way to miss the point…

  • Eve

    What a bullshit article. There’s such a thing as being happy for someone else. I’ve never been a fan of Caitlyn Jenner, but, being trans myself, seeing her transition warms my heart nonetheless and I wish her well.
    There is also such a thing as being considerate of others, which includes not referring to them with terms that are hurtful, like the wrong pronoun.

    You can talk about “policing” and “big brother” when someone actually arrests you for using the wrong pronoun, but unless that happens, sorry, it’s nothing but well-deserved criticism for ignorant behavior.

    • KimWilde

      Eve, or whatever your name really is he is still bruce. I was never a fan of his either. I wish him well and hope that he receives the care he needs when the spotlight is no longer on him.

  • Paul Nathanson

    The same thing happened after Princess Diana died and many times before that (notably in the case of Evita Peron). Diana received not only aesthetic, erotic, sartorial and moral praise but also theological reverence. To this day, her tomb is a pilgrimage site. Worse, there were those who threatened disbelievers (when speaking to television reporters covering the funeral). What any of this had to do with Diana herself is another matter. This phenomenon says nothing about the idol and everything about the society that creates idols.

  • Jay H

    I have rarely read anything so inept, be it as philosophy, politics, or journalism. There’s certainly no science in there.

    It’s all remarkably defensive too. When someone feels as threatened as that by a very small and horrifically bullied percentage of the rest of humanity, it sounds like they’re none too secure in their own identity and privilege.

  • Dragonfighter

    Agree, Bruce Jenner is now a eunuch with some very obvious “moobs”.

  • G B

    You can be whatever you want to be but don’t expect everybody to understand. There ‘is’ a lot of strident hysteria from the gay and trans community.

  • Jack LaBear

    The pro-trans commenters (and those debating them) I’ve read so far are completely missing the point of the article. That is the obnoxious and highly authoritarian distortion of reality and facts that are being forced on the vast majority of the population that is not GD or trans.
    This wild promotion of transgenderism, or more specifically mtF has a feminist political agenda to further the falsehood that most women can do anything most men can do. That’s why the Wikipedia article talks about how ‘she’ achieved all these remarkable athletic feats, and why the insistence that Bruce was always a woman.
    Funny that every cell of Jenner’s body still has a Y chromosome. Of course the feminists have a solution for that too – Gendercide.

  • justejudexultionis

    ‘Jesus was not the Son of God’ —

    You know that for a fact? I assume you believe we’re descended from ape-like creatures and that the universe made itself out of nothing as well… Your views on Christianity appear to be as ludicrous and ill-informed as your views on so-called ‘transsexuality’.

  • The_greyhound

    Entertaining article by Julie Burchill discountenancing the bizarre pretensions of blokes like Jenner –

    • justejudexultionis

      Burchill is an attention-seeking individual whose contributions, like those of that other tedious harridan, Germaine Greer, can be safely be ignored as autobiographical musings with little relevance to the subject at hand.

      • The_greyhound

        “can safely be ignored” In others words, you can’t rebut what they’re saying, so you dare not try.

        And no cod-Irish slogan? Must try harder.

  • Ed  

    Bruce will be male until they invent the chromosome transplant.

    • justejudexultionis

      Do you carry out tests to determine the chromosomal configuration of every individual you meet before interacting with them socially? Unfortunately, given that there are over 100 identified biological intersex conditions, many of which display ‘abnormal’ chromosomal configurations, your chromosomal test is unlikely to give a scientifically definitive conclusion to the answer you seek.

      • Ed  

        “There are over 100 identified biological intersex conditions”. Correct. And every one of them is just that – a medical condition. The normal state for healthy humans is either XX or XY. Other conditions, while extant, are rare, and medically abnormal. Hopefully medical research will help these people in the future. When a person has a condition we support them in dealing with it, not succumbing to it. We don’t tell bulimics and anorexics that their conditions are body-positive and healthy, because they’re not. To do so would be enabling the problem.

        From a practical point of view, Bruce’s chromosomes will remain XX until a transplant is invented.

      • Dragonfighter

        No, but a visible “adams apple” coupled with a definitive chin line leads me to suspect that the individual in question has never menstruated.

    • KimWilde

      Ed, he still will be bruce no matter how much he lies to himself.

  • Andrew Smith

    I confess to being trans-phobic; I value consistency.

    • justejudexultionis

      They also reserve the right to despise you and call you out on your moral hypocrisy and scientific ignorance or, indeed, your lack of basic humanity.

      • Ed  

        They’re free to talk. I’m free to be elsewhere while they’re doing it.

  • Grace Ironwood

    The fact is, we can’t always ” be who we want to be” , just as we can’t always make reality conform to our desires.

    Something that I’ve noticed is that a number of the trans women I’ve met seem to take themselves as their own sexual object, an explanation for the over- the – top sexualised vampified look that many trans go in for.

  • Indiana Edwards

    the haters are gonna hate. Ridiculously transphobic article.

    • justejudexultionis

      Well, it gave the ignorant conservatives among the Spectator readership the fuel they needed.

  • eipertti

    Oh, what a complete surprise that this is Brendan O’Neill’s take on Caitlyn Jenner! For O’Neill, this is simply another opportunity to “expose” the totalitarian evil of those who will not share his world outlook.

    For your information, Brendan, freedom of speech goes both ways. You have the right to say what you think and other people have the right to say what they think about what you say. You have no right to make people respected you or your views in the name of freedom.

    • justejudexultionis

      Well said. LIVE FREE OR DIE.

  • ComeGetMeMotherShip

    I feel like the left is having a civil war between those who prize ideology over truth and those who see the danger in that. How is it fair that we attack Christians for holding ideology above truth but go along with social justice agendas that do the same? And that is not just the trans movement. Take a look around social media and you will see how intolerant the tolerant have become. All modern social justice groups are using 1984 as a playbook but somehow we are not supposed to be alarmed by this. There is no subtlety to the use of the gimmicks found in the dystopian novel either. There are many moderate members of each of these groups who are being silenced by the majority opinion. . Just ask the trans folk who want it to be coded as a mental illness or the black feminist who opposes the idea that reverse racism doesn’t exist. So the groups are each having their own civil wars. Rational, moderate people, whether you are LGBT, straight, Christian, whatever we need to unite and stop oppression of thought or what happens next? Everything will be considered triggering so teachers can’t teach and every disagreement will be a hate crime and we will all be in jail. We can respect each other and be kind without demanding conformity to our own world view. How’s that for an idea? When we demand others agree with us, although we may get more rights or laws passed through silencing and intimidation, we also increase hate for our causes. I will respect your views as yours if you respect my views as mine. Sad thing is I think the original social justice warriors using these 1984 tactics were a bunch of teenagers on Tumblr.

  • Testosterone

    There is a bit of poetic irony here.

    Those who are LGBT, know that they are born that way. But instead of showing unequivocal proof to the general public, using their own bodies as examples [don’t make me get graphic], they try to “weasel” their way into normality, by saying

    “Yes, we are born this way, and yes, it is biologically normal.

    LGBT is not biologically normal.

    What LGBT should say:

    “Yes, we are born this way, and no, it is not biologically normal. Here are some pictures of my own body where I can show you that it is abnormal. It is a birth-defect. If given the choice, we would choose to be normal.

    After that is done, step aside, let scientists find prenatal cures for these conditions, and let society as a whole find a socio-political solution.

  • justejudexultionis

    I’m sure Olympic Gold winner and holder of estimated $100m fortune, Caitlyn Jenner, living in an ocean-front villa in Malibu is desperately interested in what a bunch of mediocre bourgeois bigots on a small island off the coast of north-west Europe are thinking… lol.

    • ComeGetMeMotherShip

      I am triggered by the word bigot. You have disagreement-phobia. Thanks Tumblr for making the term bigot apply to everything and everyone.

  • clive_smith

    Are men getting tired of this hysteria pushed by rabid feminists? We have a special MGTOW (Men Going Their Own Way) meetup in London (United Kingdom). 26 spaces left, confirm you are attending TODAY! This is a men’s only meetup. Females are NOT permitted to join! Follow this link to find out more 🙂 see you there fellow MGTOW

    • justejudexultionis

      If you think that ‘rabid feminists’ are pushing this ‘hysteria’ (by which I take it you mean ‘transsexuality’) then you are in error because a great many ‘rabid feminists’ are in fact strongly opposed to male-to-female ‘transsexuality’.

    • Yorkieeye