The moment when I heard the news about Jenner few years ago sparked a feeling of amazed on how she could manage to control her internal desire and secret to become a woman. Living almost most of her lifetime being a person that she did not prefer must be tiresome even though she managed to become successful with (used to be ‘his’) sports and career. I choose to answer the question about does a person need to accept society’s definition of them as being male or female or of certain race or ethnicity? Or can a person claim any racial or gender identity as they wish? From my point of view, society plays a very huge role in driving someone’s life since their judgement could change the way we live and our future. Just like mentioned in Jenner’s interview through Vanity Fair, the moment she announced her recent gender, random questions keep pouring on her such as “do you still have penis” or “are you a woman yet” (Buzz Bissinger 2015) which I believe, are very disturbing. Because of the society did not accept the term transgender yet back then when she was young, Bruce Jenner had to hold up his preferred gender until the world could accept him to be a ‘she’. And that is the reason why Jenner was very hurt and unhappy. The society controls her decision back then as a gold medal holder in Olympics and as a famous person. With the advanced of technology and social media nowadays, I believe that it must be harder and difficult for someone to expose his or her true gender, race and ethnicity.
However, until when could we hold up our feelings in order to satisfy the society? Every person has their own decision on what he or she want to be so that we can be comfortable to live our life. Digging into the old history of Asian people in United States, the moment when they entered the states, they are unacceptable and denied (Asiasociety n.d.). Even though nowadays the government has accepted their entry and makes up almost six percent of the United States population (Morris & Wortham 2018), but they are some of the citizens still cannot accept that. Looking this matter from different lens, their entry actually brings good impact and benefits for both sides. For instance, the existence of Asian restaurant and food which brings variety of food choices to everyone. From my observation as an Asian food lover, every time I go to Asian restaurant, most of the customers are Americans. Therefore, the conclusion can be made by this example is waiting for society’s point of view in defining our gender, race and ethnicity might bring us to a thorny and difficult road but at the end of the journey, it will bring sweetness and happy ending for us. It depends on ourselves on how we manage to face the reaction of the society. Failure to be strong when facing them might end up with suicide or other bad outcomes. To relate with Jenner’s story, I can see how strong she was when facing the acceptance of society at the moment when she burst the secret of her gender. At the end, she is happy with her life now.
As for the question “can a person claim any racial or gender identity as they wish”. I would answer it as yes, you can but depend on your religions or beliefs. From a reading regarding Islam religion, Muslim are not allowed and prohibited (or called it as ‘haram’) in claiming themselves as transgender or changing their first gender (M. Alipour 2016). It is regarded as sinful act and would never be accepted by the society. However, it is different to a person who born as a ‘khunsa’ or called it as hermaphrodites, people who posses both male and female sex organs in their genitals. This circumstance gives them opportunity to decide their own preferred sexual and gender identity whether to become a male or a female since they are very young. From the perspectives of other religions and beliefs, as long as they are allowed to do so, I believe that a person can claim any racial or gender identity that they wish for. People might have the power to judge other but it is not their power to ruin our life. Quoting Dr Steve Maraboli’s quote, “Your opinion is not my reality”. Therefore, choose your life journey wisely and face them.
Asiasociety. (n.d.). Asian Americans Then and Now. Asiasociety. Retrieved from https://asiasociety.org/education/asian-americans-then-and-now?page=0
Buzz Bissinger. (2015). Caitlyn Jenner: The Full Story. Vanity Fair. Retrieved from https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2015/06/caitlyn-jenner-bruce-cover-annie-leibovitz
M. Alipour. (2016). Islamic Shari’a Law, Neotraditionalist Muslim Scholars and Transgender Sex-reassignment Surgery: A Case Study of Ayatollah Khomeini’s and Sheikh Al-Tantawi’s Fatwas. International Journal of Transgenderism. Retrieved from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15532739.2016.1250239
Morris W. and Wortham J. (2018). Asian Americans Talk About Racism, and We Listen Part 2. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/05/podcasts/still-processing-asian-americans-racism.html