“Call me Caitlyn” has been impossible to miss, but about the same time this headline began to blanket newsstands and smartphones, I again happened upon the instructive story of another man trying to escape the circumstances of his birth. It had been years since I saw Into the Wild—the critically acclaimed 2007 film based on Jon Krakauer’s 1996 bestseller—before it recently caught my eye at the local library. A story of rebellion and revelation, the cinematic climax centers on a phrase from Doctor Zhivago: “to call each thing by its right name.”
In case you’ve forgotten the basics, our young protagonist, the product of an adulterous affair turned bigamous and abusive if financially successful marriage, graduates from college and then casts off his name and the trappings of affluence. He roams the country as Alexander Supertramp, finally coming to the last frontier of Alaska where he can be alone with his thoughts and his books.