Because I was on an airplane flying home to Colorado when the show aired, I did not get a chance to watch Diane Sawyer’s interview with Bruce Jenner until last night. I admire Jenner for his bravery and patience as he has dealt with the media. I deeply appreciated Diane Sawyer and the show put together by the producers at ABC. The clips and the people they interviewed were perfect. The tone of the show was compassionate and informative.
I did struggle to feel much compassion for Jenner during the actual interview. Maybe all those years in front of a camera have made him jaded. The New York Times article about the interview also noted an incongruity between the subject matter and his demeanor. Nevertheless, I did resonate with almost everything Jenner said about his experience as a trans person. At one time or another I have spoken almost every single word he said about being trans. There are far more similarities in our stories than dissimilarities. He said he felt he had been living a lie. I never felt that way. I was just struggling to be a male. That is hardly living a lie. Once I knew what I had to do, pretty much everyone else knew it too. That was probably the only major area in which our stories were significantly different.
I wanted to shout “yes” to a few comments. I hate when the media calls a trans person, “a woman trapped in a man’s body.” I have never felt that way. It is inaccurate, trite, and dismissive. Nobody is trapped anywhere. I am just trans, that’s all. I also loved when Bruce said simply but clearly, “My brain is more female than male.” Yep, exactly.
I do hope Time Magazine is right and we have passed the transgender tipping point. As Jenner said at the end, “Please keep an open mind. We are pretty normal people.” Jennifer Boylan suggested if you are among the eight percent of the population who do know someone who is transgender, you develop compassion pretty quickly. Certainly if you remove the Evangelical population from my personal experience, I would be in agreement. Almost everyone else in my life has been absolutely wonderful. (And the few Evangelicals who have been supportive have been wonderfully so, sometimes at a cost with their coworkers and peers.)
Like Bruce Jenner, I too feel in many ways I have lived a charmed life. He said he imagined God “threw this in at the end” when he was creating Bruce, realizing he needed something with which to struggle. While I do not think God had much to do with me being trans, I do believe God is very interested in how I deal with it. I know I have not been perfect, but I am living honestly, openly, and with as much integrity as I can muster. And when that is the case, you sleep well at night, very well.
Photo (Flickr CC) by mindfulness