Dear Anne Lamott,
When I first started getting serious about writing, my mom went in search of a book. She would not tell me the name of the book, because she wanted it to be a surprise, but eventually she spilled and told me because she was having trouble finding it and needed to enlist my help in finding it. It was pretty popular, she said; a friend recommended it to her when she mentioned me writing.
That book was Bird by Bird, by you. I devoured it almost whole, which is still pretty unheard of for me. And through last year, it was actually a book I revisited annually because it still spoke to me and taught me new things, even after all these years.
I guess you aren’t done teaching me new things. This week, I learned how vile you can be.
Caitlyn has zero responsibility to anyone when it comes to how she wants to look. How she wants herself to look. If she wants to doll herself up, she should doll herself up. If she wants to wear sweats, she should fucking wear sweats. Just like anyone else in the world.
Caitlyn also has zero responsibility to have her body surgically altered in order to be called she/her. Anyone is due that respect — pick your name, pick your pronoun, the rest of the world should honor that. (I say should — goodness knows this is not the future Star Trek promised us, is it — this is a world that will never be wholly kind or equal, no matter how people fight to make it so.)
You, Anne, are someone who has gone on a years-long spiritual journey, someone who was once gifted with dimes rolled into plastic bags by her church’s congregation when she had no other income — someone who was lifted UP and not punched down when she needed it most.You are someone who once claimed she knew precisely what it felt like to be judged be her appearance. And now, when someone comes out to the world as who they truly are, what do you do? You turn around and smack them in the mouth.
Yes, you can be tired of the media coverage — despite your use of “pee pee” for “penis,” you are a grown, adult woman and I suspect you know precisely how to avoid news and media accounts of Caitlyn’s journey. But there’s no cause to demean her or make that journey more difficult than it already is.
You fucked up, Anne Lamott, and it’s hard to see someone I viewed as a mentor do that.
Be more thoughtful in the days to come,