Note: I referred to Bruce as “he” and “him” throughout this post because as of now, Bruce prefers that we refer to him using those familiar pronouns.
If you weren’t lucky enough to catch the Bruce Jenner/Diane Sawyer interview over the weekend, I’m sure by now, you probably have a pretty good idea of what all the fuss was about. Bruce Jenner, the patriarch of the infamous Kardashian clan, was finally ready to talk about his transition into womanhood. Though I really enjoyed the interview, and thought this served as a triumphant moment for Bruce, I learned that many people didn’t see it that way, and used this interview as an opportunity to bash, discredit, and even poke fun at him. I was a little disturbed by that.
Bruce Jenner, a 65 year old former Olympian, was once hailed as the greatest athlete in the world. Now, many years later, most people are focused on one thing and one thing only; his surprising declaration to Diane Sawyer that he is “for all intents and purposes, a woman.” Jenner started his transition long before any of us ever got wind of it, but I’d be lying if I said we didn’t notice subtle changes in Bruce’s physical appearance. His nose looked different, his hair was getting longer, and his face definitely looked more “feminine.”
Then, in 2013, all of our suspicions were confirmed when we learned that Bruce was undergoing surgery for a laryngeal shave. (AKA getting rid of his Adam’s apple) A bell went off. Everything started to make sense. Bruce moved out of the family home, and got his own condo in Malibu. But still, nothing was officially confirmed…until now.
The interview opens with a symbolic gesture. Bruce takes his ponytail out, and lets his hair down. What a relief that must have been. I’m not talking about the fact that his ponytail might have been too tight, I’m talking about the freedom that exists in finally being able to let your hair down, after years of not really being able to do that.
“As of now, I have all the male parts and all that kind of stuff, so in a lot of ways we’re different, okay?” Jenner said to Sawyer during the interview. “But we still identify as female. And that’s very hard for Bruce Jenner to say. Because why? I don’t want to disappoint people.”
There are an estimated 700,000 transgender people in the U.S. living in a society filled with discrimination, misunderstanding, suicide and danger, according to the Williams Institute at the University of California-Los Angeles. Bruce Jenner is one of them. He says that he always knew he was transgender. At the age of 8, Jenner says he put on a dress for the first time. He says that at the time, he didn’t know why he was doing it. He only knew that it “made me feel good.”
Even in adulthood, Bruce would “cross dress.” He admits to trying on his daughter’s dresses, but was eventually caught due to surveillance systems in the house.
As I watched, listened, and learned from Bruce’s interview, I tweeted out my support to Bruce. After all, what he was doing was really brave. He deserved our support. Though I was thrilled that Bruce had taken such a huge step in the right direction, others met my enthusiasm with harsh criticism. Everywhere I looked, I saw posts about how what Bruce was doing wasn’t brave at all. In fact, people lamented over having to hear him talk about his life. Why did we have to care about…a transgender person? Why was this a big deal? Why were we wasting our time discussing LGBTQ issues? Then I realized, those people really didn’t get it. Some of them even thought being transgender was a “choice.”
Bruce Jenner been around these dam Kardashians too long, now he wants to be one #BruceJennerABC
— Gang Member (@PhilxWinter) April 25, 2015
So many pressing issues. Racism. Police brutality. Gender income inequality. ISIS. Poverty. Yet we jump on #BruceJenner as the big story!
— Sophia A. Nelson (@IAmSophiaNelson) April 25, 2015
im so confused and so Im off to bed! #BruceJennerInterview
— TalkingWithTami (@TalkingWithTami) April 25, 2015
Naturally, I was confused. I didn’t understand HOW people had managed to MISS how monumental this was. Above everything, how could you not want to learn about something that you clearly had no clue about?
This interview is important because bringing these issues to the forefront, and creating an atmosphere of understanding and tolerance can literally save lives. According to a survey featured on Vocativ.com, a staggering 41% of transgender people have attempted suicide. 41 PERCENT! That is unacceptable. That is heartbreaking. As I scrolled through the #BruceJennerABC hashtag, I realized that I wasn’t alone. My faith in humanity was restored.
Luckily, some people DID get it.
This whole #BruceJennerABC thing has forced me to look at love in the absence of sexuality,even where it's expected. &I appreciate that.
— Manii, the Great (@ManiiTheGreat) April 27, 2015
Way to go #BruceJennerABC for living your truth
— Mike Tyson (@MikeTyson) April 25, 2015
— Donnie Wahlberg (@DonnieWahlberg) April 25, 2015
Yes it is. The fact that he spent 65 yrs not feeling like he could be himself is OUR failure RT @Angietweets12 65yrs later? is that courage?
— Awesomely Luvvie (@Luvvie) April 25, 2015
But then there was something that I had to acknowledge. I’d seen a lot of feedback about how unfair it was that Bruce was getting all of the “glory” in the fight for trans equality. We had women like Laverne Cox and Janet Mock who had come forward long before Bruce Jenner ever did. To an extent, I agreed. I think it’s clear that when people of color are involved, a lot of issues are overlooked and swept under the rug. When white folk come into the picture, all of a sudden, things become a big deal. I get that. I understand that. However, I don’t blame Bruce for his platform, his fame, or his popularity. I actually think the fact that he DOES have such a platform is beneficial to the movement. He is making this a POPULAR conversation to have. And I CANNOT be mad at that. As a matter of fact, I am grateful.
— Diatonic Dissonance (@urbangaygriot) April 25, 2015
I do want to mention that Bruce did mention violence aimed at Black trans women. He pointed out that transgender women of color are often disproportionately targeted. That was a powerful thing to acknowledge on a media outlet as mainstream as 20/20. Just THINK about that. He’s not some ignorant fool who’s claiming to know everything there is to know about being transgender. But he’s done his research, he’s making an effort, and I think he deserves credit for that.
So I guess the question becomes…why are people so hesitant to call Bruce Jenner “brave”? Here’s my take: He’s white, he’s rich, and he’s transgender. People don’t like the idea that he gets to be called brave, while others who are less fortunate, have less support, and aren’t white, don’t get this much praise. Some are simply upset that someone who is transgender is being praised at all. Whether it’s for religious reasons, moral reasons, or out of pure hatred, some people don’t think that Bruce’s lifestyle warrants any accolades, or pats on the back.
To those people, here’s my rant:
Have a seat. You don’t get to judge anybody, at any time. What have you done that’s so great lately? Put your Bible down, and open your eyes for two seconds. Look at Bruce Jenner, and acknowledge that he is a human being, just like you. He is not disposable. He is not to be mocked. He is not to chastised. He is a person. You should respect that, and love him like Jesus loves your old imperfect, hateful ass. And let me be perfectly clear. I DO NOT think that being gay, lesbian, bi, trans, non-gender conforming makes you imperfect at all. I actually think quite the opposite.
During the interview, when asked which of the children has been most supportive thus far, surprisingly, Bruce said “Kim.” Though most of us think of Kanye as being pretty douchey on a regular basis, Bruce says he has Kanye to thank for Kim’s positive outlook. According to Bruce, this is what Kanye had to say about the whole thing:
— Colette Fahy (@colettefahy_) April 25, 2015
Yes Kanye! Way to be a good person! Bruce’s other children as well as his ex-wives have also publicly expressed their support.
Just finished watching the #BruceJennerInterview with the family. Bruzer, I'm soooo proud of you! Dads really are heros ❤️
— Khloé (@khloekardashian) April 25, 2015
Couldn't be a more proud daughter. With courage and bravery, let's change the world. I am honored to stand by Bruce's side and support him.
— Kourtney Kardashian (@kourtneykardash) April 25, 2015
And it’s really THAT simple! This isn’t a publicity stunt. Bruce has enough publicity. This isn’t Bruce crying out for attention. This is REAL life. This isn’t a CHOICE. This is someone’s story, and I really wish people would treat it as such.
“We’re going to make a difference in the world with what we’re doing,” he said. “And if the whole Kardashian show and reality television gave me that foothold into that world—to be able to go out there and really do something good, I’m all for it. I got no problem with that,” he told Diane Sawyer.
And to that I say, you’re damn right Brucey! You’ve made a difference already. Kudos and congratulations on your journey! Everyone should have the right to live their truth! And let’s be honest, sometimes, living your truth really does take a lot of BALLS. Check out this cool story about 5 year old Jacob’s Journey.