Culture

Caitlyn Jenner: Cutting Penis Off 'Not That Big a Deal'

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In an explosive interview with Piers Morgan on Thursday, former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner said the transgender surgery that surgically removed Jenner’s manly organ was “not that big a deal.” The star later added, however, that she did not trust her ex-wife and children enough to tell them about the surgery before the tell-all book came out. Piers Morgan was astounded.

“They didn’t know you’d actually had the surgery?” Morgan clarified. “No, I didn’t tell anybody. It’s none of their business,” Jenner responded.

Morgan admitted that it might not be any of his business, but he pressed Jenner, “Is it not the business of your very, very recently ex-wife and your kids? Are they not entitled to know before the world?”

At that point, Jenner first argued, “It’s not that big a deal.”

Aghast, Morgan responded, “Cait, come on. Come on.”

When Jenner insisted the book is about honesty, Morgan shot back, “Right, but you’re being honest to complete strangers who are going to buy your book. You’re not being honest to the people that you’ve purported to love most. Are they not entitled to feel pretty pissed off?”

“Uhh, no, ’cause it really wasn’t that big of a deal,” Jenner repeated. The transgender reality television star explained why: “I had already been living as Caitlyn for a year and a half. Okay?” It seems the star rejected the idea that actually removing a penis was not a big deal because she had already publicly identified as a woman.

Morgan still did not buy it. “But, if you hadn’t put it in the book and chose not to tell them, I get it. But to put it in the book and to not send them the pages that reveal that, seems to me, wilfully deceptive. And the question is, why would you not tell them that?”

“Uhh, because I didn’t want them to leak it to the press,” Jenner said. At last, the truth came out.

An astonished Morgan clarified, “You didn’t trust them?”

“Of course not, yeah. Of course I didn’t trust them, yeah,” Jenner admitted.

This answer proved particularly interesting, since the release of the book automatically enabled the press to read the story. Perhaps one or two outlets would get the scoop early, but the end result would not be too much different.

There are two big stories here: Caitlyn Jenner did not trust her ex-wife or her own children to know a big and intimate secret she was all too willing to reveal to the entire world, and  she did not consider the removal of a male sexual organ to be “that big a deal.”

The Kardashian family is well known for leaking things to the press, and perhaps Jenner’s decision not to trust them makes sense. Even so, it seems difficult to interpret this move as anything but a slap in the face to the wife and children of Bruce Jenner, especially given his intimacies with them.

It is curious a transgender person would not consider physical surgery “that big a deal” when it costs a great deal and theoretically enables a full gender transition. If someone attempts to mold his or her body into the gender opposite their own biological sex, wouldn’t the removal of sex organs and their “right” replacement constitute the crowning achievement of a transition?

Interestingly, at least for at transgender person’s public image, the answer may be “no.” Jenner emphasized the public reveal of “Call me Caitlyn,” over the intimate — and irreversible — biological change.

There is one context in which this makes perfect sense. According to the ancient religion of Gnosticism, the body is a shell for the real spiritual personality. It is more important for the spirit to be liberated from the body than for the body to be altered to match the spirit. In this context, once someone like Bruce Jenner had identified — in the spirit — as the female Caitlyn, it matters quite a bit less whether or not he or she changes the physical body to match that identity.

This emphasis on self and self-identity can also help explain why Jenner was reluctant to share such an intimate detail with family — it doesn’t matter so much to her self-conception, but the transgender identity is also not about others, but about being true to her inner personality.

Despite this, Jenner’s decision to hide this news from her family still seems grotesque, and her claim that it is “not that big a deal” seems laughable.

Click “Load More” to watch the tense interview.