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Under the magnifying glass

One of the interesting things about the Bruce Jenner story is that it has rallied a large number of people to express their opinion on a matter they cannot relate to personally. As a former Olympian and (of late) reality television personality, he becomes by default the most high profile person to come out as a transgender with the stated intent of transitioning; and doing so very publically.

I must admit that I was hesitant to watch the Diane Sawyer interview because I feared that it would be tabloid fodder but my curiosity got the better of me and I began viewing it with the mindset of switching off my television if it degraded to such a level. I was pleasantly surprised to see that not only did ABC treat the subject with a high degree of sensitivity, but that Bruce Jenner came off as likeable and sympathetic.

Much of his story resonated with me because I saw parts of my life in his.

Now with the program behind us, the internet has been full of stories about his next steps and attempts at capturing candid photographs of Bruce in a dress. Along with those stories have come a plethora of derogatory comments from people who not only understand little of the transgender condition but are also saddled with lower grades of intelligence and empathy than some of us might like.

Such is the human condition I’m afraid.

Still, there are others who have rallied to Bruce Jenner’s side and supported his bravery for speaking so openly about his life experience in dealing with this challenge. If nothing else it’s out there in the spotlight for all to see and discuss. It’s the next area to be tackled after homosexuality and perhaps it’s part of the process that all the crevices be exposed before we can deal with the issue in a more positive way.

I recently wrote an article on Jack Molay’s blog Crossdreamers where I praised the new generation for being more open about their sexuality and gender non conformance. The last time I spoke to my seventeen year old daughter about these issues only reinforced my belief that society is making great strides towards understanding and accepting human diversity in all its forms.

In the end, Bruce Jenner and I are the same but we are also very different. When he was here in Montreal winning the decathlon, I was a fourteen year old high school student who secretly crossdressed when nobody was home. Both of us were far from admitting to ourselves that we had bigger gender issues than we thought.

He is also a Republican and I am a just left of center Liberal.

Being transgender does not mean we are cut from the same cloth and I discovered this over the years as I ventured slowly in my awkward attempts to reach out to others who shared this difference of ours.

I have come to the conclusion that we are just the same as everyone else. We bleed, we laugh, we cry and we rejoice in the same things others do. Whether we have much or little in common with each other depends more on shared life experience and age than on whether we suffer from gender dysphoria or not.

Perhaps when we are more exposed to the light, people will see that we are not such human aberrations after all.


  1. I think that you have it right that when we are more exposed to light that people will see that we are not aberrations. It is a long slow process and the fact that so few of us are out and about and mixing with the civilian population on a regular basis makes it even harder. As people encounter us they will find that there is nothing to fear about being with us and that we are just regular people. This is true about all folks that present as different. It took time for the Irish to be accepted, then the Italian immigrants, then the blacks and latinos and it now seems that acceptance of LGB is well past the tipping point. Ts just need to be seen more to be accepted more. We also have the added issue that while we do present some visually similar traits we are all very different and that there is a difference between the occasional crossdresser and the transitioned TS.

    I was not surprised that Jenner was a conservative/Republican. Most conservative/libertarian/republicans have respect for others. No surprise that he picked his first major interview with Sawyer who cut her teeth working in the Nixon White House.

  2. Hi Joanna,

    Thank you for writing this. I think much of what you wrote speaks for many of us. I am Transgendered myself and transitioning from male to female and was a little bit younger than you when Jenner won Gold (but I was in Montreal visiting for the Olympics!). We had no luck getting tickets for anything, but I fell in love with Montreal at a very young age. Hopefully, I will be back for my rebirth some day. :)

    I thought the Interview was very well done and will help many Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers catch up with the "young people" who are more accepting of the Trans community. You are very right that we are not all cut from the same cloth. Personally, I think that realizing this is quite integral to a successful transition and/or life whether one transitions or not. Not have an assortment of role models or a YouTube in my teens and 20s made this a hard, long lesson to learn.

    I will close that I am thankful that you did not attack Bruce Jenner for being a Republican. There is too much of that out there in our community. We will need Left, Center, Right to all work together whenever and wherever to make the World (or our local town) better for each of us.



  3. Thank you both for your feedback.


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