It was the end of a journey on which we learned the basics of peacemaking. Over our six plus weeks on the road, we learned ways to get along with people we disagree with, but who have love in their hearts. This season finale wraps that up beautifully with several story lines: Ella Giselle and her dad, me and Jenny Boylan, and Caitlyn Jenner's leap into left wing street-level activism. Watching this episode, I laughed, I cried, I gasped out loud. SPOILER ALERT!!!!! Here we go…
Ella, Ella, Ella
So what did you think, watching Ella at lunch with her dad? This was one of my favorite storylines of the whole season. He was all aren't-I-the-best-dad-in-all-the-world, and Ella looks so disbelieving. Right? So, Ella has to decide: does she tell her dad what she's really feeling—that he was a real jerk to her when she first came out as trans—or does she stay silent, with all that resentment just simmering inside her? Thankfully, Ella has found a good friend and a big sister in Candis Cayne, who advises her to "tell him how you feel. It'll only strengthen your relationship with him." Fearlessly, Ella does open up with him—and her father pushes back, but Ella stands her ground. Finally, her father says, "Throughout this transition, I've watched my daughter blossom. Well, guess what? Your father is blossoming too. To you. I'm sorry. I love you." And Ella says I love you, and they hug. Ahhhhhh—how many parents and children long to hug each other like that? Ella calls it a new beginning. Bless you, Ella—the story of you making up with your dad is going to give a lot of families hope.
My Evil Twin and I Make Peace With Each Other
Jenny and I were supposed to fly up to Mammoth, but the weather was so bad up there that the teeny-weeny plane couldn't fly in. So, we spent a short night sharing a room at an airport hotel, and at 5:30 the next morning, a shiny black Cadillac Escalade picked us up at the front door. It was a five hour drive up to Mammoth, and I enjoyed every moment with JFB. For the record, Jennifer Finney Boylan is the smartest person I know. We don't always see eye to eye on fashion, activist tactics, or even what it means to be trans—but we opened each others' eyes enough to see that we fight shoulder to shoulder for a common justice. Now, we have big love and deep respect for one another.
Caitlyn Jenner, Bathroom Activist, Takes Us All to Church
We have come so far since those early days of safe-wording "God Bless America." It didn't take all that long for Caitlyn to develop more of a bi-partisan point of view. She says, "That's what makes our country great: that we can have a diversity of opinions, put them together, and come up with something that's constructive for as many people as we possibly can."
That's a far, far cry from refusing to speak about social issues without yelling. So off we fly to Houston, where Cait takes us on an adventure to pee in women's bathrooms all over town as a political protest. We did good, because now the world gets to hear Chandi say, "Trans people are just looking to do the same thing in the bathroom. No one is taking any time to meet or greet. Just potty. So, you do you in the bathroom, and let us do us, and everybody smile and walk out."
Reality TV in service to activism—who'd have ever thunk it? And then it was time for church! That all kicked off with a pivotal moment in Cait's life. It starts with Jenny on the phone. "Hi there, my name is Jenny Boylan. I'm a transgender woman, who's looking for a place to worship. Would I be welcome at the service this evening?" Silence. Caitlyn mimes "give me the phone."
Jenny says, "Hold on, my friend Caitlyn Jenner is here and she'd like to have a word with you." And she hands the phone to Cait who says jovially, "How are you doing? Caitlyn Jenner here." Silence, then...click! Cait's jaw drops in bemused shock and disbelief.
We spent this entire season learning that the first step to making peace is talking things through—that you give the benefit of the doubt to people who are good-hearted. Hanging up on someone? That's not very loving. That's no way to make peace on earth. Click? That's not very Christian. While writing this piece, I asked Caitlyn if this was the first time someone hung up on her, and she told me yep—first time in her life, and just because she's trans. That sunk in, you better believe it. Now Cait was more than ever fired up to speak face to face with a transphobic, conservative pastor. So off we drove to church.
I don't want to say too much about that—after all, we respected their wishes not to video inside the church. But here's what I can say and what I must tell you about what you didn't see: when the service was over, the pastor asked us to join him in a prayer circle. I thought that was genuinely sweet of him. And when we raised up our heads, that's when Caitlyn looked him straight in the eye and gave him what-for about his transphobia. Cait can be very imposing when she wants to be. Let's just say, the pastor heard her.
When it was all over, and we were heading to the bathroom before our hour's drive back to our hotel, a dozen or more young children stopped us and lined up for hugs and selfies with Caitlyn. Sweet, right? But off to the side, adults were escorting all the young girls out of the bathroom in preparation for our going in. Sigh. Peace-making does take patience.
All Shows Close
The trans journey is all too often too many goodbyes, as we leave off one gender and morph into the world of another. Like theater folks at the end of a show's run, we learn how to take some of the sting out of goodbye by telling each other thank you for our time together.
So, thanks Caitlyn. Thanks for bringing us all together as a family, and for sharing your international platform with us. I love you big, and I respect you deeply, and I promise to have your back.
And thank you, Andrea Metz and Melissa Bidwell—along with Cait, the executive producers of this show. They were with us every step of the way. And thanks to Courtney and Kip—both of them are honorary trans girls. Thanks to all the production crew and security guys for building a world that was safe enough for us to walk through.
Thank you, my dearest trans sisters of the road. I sure hope there's a season three, and that we get to spend it together again. Thank you to my life partner, Barbara Carrellas, for all the encouragement and for teaching all of us how to have a gender-free orgasm. And I know I speak for all of us on the show when I say thank you to you, and to all our viewers who've been watching this journey unfold, all the while cheering us on in social media.
In closing, I'd like to honor Caitlyn as both champion and coach. The lady who won a gold medal in the Olympic decathlon is now a champion of the rights of so many others. And she's our coach. At this season's end, our coach sends us out into the world, reminding us, "We have a long way to go. A lot of fighting, a lot of unifying. It's not gonna be easy. But we'll get through it."
Gotcha, Coach. Here we go.