I have a yahoo mail account. Before logging on, I’m presented with the home page that has been scrupulously designed to draw me in. Yeah, I’m REALLY there to gain entrance to my mail, by I am sucked into the media first: the little boxes of potential drama that I would have never had otherwise sought to investigate from which I can’t seem to turn away: video clips…headlines…Bruce Jenner.
Millions of Americans and similarly, folks outside of the US, obtain their ONLY news from the internet, television, or “TMZ”-like sound bites. These are the folks that have made the Kardasians gazillionaires. THESE are the individuals that will be watching Bruce’s transition!
It is so important to our children and our families that Bruce pull this off with grace and dignity! He has the opportunity to bring humanity and empathy to our transgender children that struggle in our binary world! The majority of the population have never personally known a transgender individual- those folks will be informed through Bruce’s documented transition! The face that has morphed over time thanks to a surgeon’s scalpel- that face that was recently involved in a traffic accident fatality- well, Bruce may very well be “the face of Transgender” this coming year! And so I worry.
Bruce is providing our voyeuristic society a front seat to his “unveiling” at a time when we see promises of acceptance and change. For example, President Obama’s carefully scripted State of the Union speech included the term, “Transgender” for the first time by a president. For the first time there are positive transgender images in print, in film and on television. Bruce’s transition COULD continue positive discussions and greater understanding.
So far, so good, Bruce! Personally, I found the two-hour interview by Diane Sawyer with Bruce Jenner this past Friday to be promising. Yes, she asked the expected (salacious) questions: Will you have gender reassignment surgery? If you remarried, what gender would that person be? But Bruce held his own! He reiterated that these personal decisions are down the road. He explained more than once that sexuality does NOT determine one’s gender and vice-versa! He shared that identity is not easily defined and each of us should have the right to have a say in who we are and how we present ourselves. He shared that he has had to struggle his whole life with who he is vs. who he presents to be. Bruce acknowledged the incredible risks our transgender children face: greater risk of suicide (shared his own contemplation of the same earlier), brutality, and discrimination. He voiced a desire to make a difference.
Bruce Jenner is planning to share his transition with the media on his own television series this summer- and so this mom worries! Let us hope that Bruce is able to be the role model we need at this time in our children’s lives!