The other day I was at the checkout in the grocery store and glanced at the rows and rows of gossip mags with Bruce Jenner plastered across the fronts. Some with rather obviously photo-shopped lipstick or unflattering droopy man-boobs. Some with Bruce looking just like many Californians who have had a little too much work done. Whatever angle the tabloids are playing for the sensationalism of the story. The cashier – a young girl of about 18 – saw that I was looking at the covers and said “why can’t they just leave Bruce Jenner alone?” I know she wasn’t talking about the fact that the scion of the Kardashian clan, a family famous for dubious reasons – and former Olympic medalist has been constant fodder for the rags – but the fact that it’s HIS choice to be who he wants.
Now we know for a fact that all the gossip was real. Bruce Jenner announced to Diane Sawyer and the rest of the world that he has secretly spent his entire life as a woman, and that he has the “soul of a female” and that “my brain is much more female than it is male,” even though “as of now I have all the male parts.” So now we know.
Look, when I first heard the rumours that Bruce was ‘becoming a woman’ I laughed – it was sort of on par with the fact that Jennifer Aniston seems to get pregnant/engaged/married/single on a weekly basis – it seriously seemed like such a fabricated story. I mean this was BRUCE JENNER – gold medal decathlete – he of the coveted Wheaties boxes. Back in the 70’s, Bruce Jenner was considered the epitome of the ‘All American Man’ – and was literally an American hero. But even though we may have grown up with this image of who he is, and recently being part of one of TV’s biggest reality franchises doesn’t mean we really ‘know’ him. And with this revelation, we still don’t – but all we can do as the public is offer our support for Jenner’s choices and compassion for what has led him to this.
A few years ago, a friend that I had known for a decade or so, decided to live his life as a woman. He was married, and had two children and seemed like your average guy. Unbeknownst to even his closest friends, he had been living a double life. He yearned to dress and act like a woman. He and his wife divorced, and he now openly lives life as a female. Not too long ago, I was at a gathering sitting at a table with her, her ex-wife, and their two children. At first it was surreal but then I knew that regardless of how she now represents herself, the most important thing to remember is that SHE is a human being. She has feelings. She is still the same person inside whatever exterior she chooses to live in and she is someone that I have always liked. And she can walk in heels better than I can.
I could never imagine how someone would feel if they didn’t feel ‘right’ in the sex that they were born to. I can’t imagine how much anguish that would generate mentally and emotionally. How exhausting it would have to be to live such a massive lie. Perhaps Bruce Jenner (and I’m totally hypothesizing here) pushed himself to be such an elite athlete to try and prove his manliness. Perhaps Bruce Jenner would have still been an elite athlete if he had been born a female. I don’t know. But honestly, does any of that really matter?
People will say he’s just doing this for the publicity – which if you really REALLY think about it you’d realize how insane and extreme that would be – even for someone who was married to Kris Jenner and has been a large part of the Kardashian machine. It makes me think of a line in the first season of Orange Is The New Black when a character was talking about a transsexual and said “why would anyone ever give up being a man? That’s like winning the lottery and giving back the ticket.” But is it really? If you’ve spent your entire life feeling like you were in the wrong body then all the money in the world would never ‘fix’ that.
I’m incredibly proud of my friend for having the guts to be who they truly feel they were meant to be, because that’s what ultimately makes her happy. It’s her life. We all need to remember that THAT is the most important thing here. Bruce Jenner is a human being and that is all that matters. We need to realize that just because someone is portrayed a certain way or chooses to portray themselves a certain way, everyone needs to be treated with respect. As Bruce Jenner said himself in the Diane Sawyer interview “I’m me…I’m a person.”