Sunday, April 26, 2015

Being Bruce Isn't Easy

"Being Bruce isn't easy."

In Bruce Jenner's highly promoted interview with Dianne Sawyer, he revealed to the world what was hardly a secret anymore.  Amid the buzz of years of rumors reaching a crescendo with the recent 2 hour prime time special, Bruce has revealed the secret that has tormented him since childhood.  Indeed it has tormented her for so long, as Bruce revealed he is a woman.

Once known as "The World's Greatest Athlete" for his overpowering gold medal performance in the rigorous decathlon event of Montreal's 1976 Olympics, Bruce Jenner is in the spotlight once again and coming back with a message.  If the World's Greatest Athlete can be transgender, anyone can be transgender.  If Bruce Jenner can be the nation's hero in 1976, he can have the respect and acceptance of the world in 2015. 

"Being Bruce isn't easy,"  he says.  I can relate to those words all too well.  Bruce is saying it's been extremely difficult to be this person that he has had to be all these years.  Now he can't take it anymore and he has to be himself.  Bruce says that he has the soul of a woman.  That she is part of him and he just can't hold her back anymore.

I am one of the people that remembers Bruce in the Olympics, winning the nation's heart along with the gold.  But after that he became obscure to most of us until he reemerged in the reality television show "Keeping Up With the Kardashians," with his role as Kris Jenner's husband.  This is a role that I have observed him in over the last few years, as a fan of the show.

As Bruce revealed in the interview, he had the real story inside him all this time.  While the show launched the celebrity careers of Kim, her sisters and the rest of the Kardashians, Bruce slid into the mundane role of an everyday parent.  Driving the kids around, giving fatherly advice and often being made to look a little foolish or taken for granted, Bruce usually comes across as the straight guy in a show that mixes "real life" comedy and drama.

Indeed, Bruce has been playing a role all of his life.  "Being Bruce isn't easy."  Now that he has come out as transgender woman, at age 65, Bruce will finally get to be himself.  Yes, herself is the correct terminology, but in this interview Bruce preferred to use the name he was born with and the male pronouns that go with it.  Soon, she will reemerge for all the world to see.

This was Bruce's last hoorah, his big goodbye.  The first episode of this year's "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" also came across across as a goodbye to viewers.  That episode featured Bruce leaving the family home in Old Town Calabasas (west of Bevelry Hills), moving to an oceanfront cottage in Malibu and setting up life on his own.  Memories from 23 years with the Kardashians, scenes with the children (including his children from two previous marriages) and his evolving relationship with Kris were shown.  Bruce was moving on and tears were shed.

Now we are poised for a new reality show that will presumably deal with Bruce's transition from male to female.  He states that he doesn't feel he is trapped in a woman's body but does indeed have a woman's soul.  Trans people are not all the same but we do share the same core feelings and experiences, although we may express them differently in words or how we live our lives.  I believe all transgender people can relate to at least parts of his story.  Hopefully Jenner's celebrity status and new role in the spotlight will allow others to relate to it as well.

Many are criticizing Bruce for using his status to be so vocal about coming out.  He is privileged, he is wealthy and he is a celebrity so how can he possibly relate to the struggles so many trans people face?  He doesn't have to worry about finding a job, housing, the acceptance of his family or paying for a transition that can often be very expensive, they complain. 

Such is life.  Some people struggle with the basics while others do not.  Having the full acceptance of a large number of family members is unusual as well, both for transgender children and parents.  All of his 10 children accept his transition and embrace her, as Bruce describes "his female side."  His celebrity status will hopefully bring more awareness and acceptance to this often obscure and troubled community. 

This should bring more attention to all of our struggles as well.  For all the glory, fame and fortune that the world knows him for, it is certain that Bruce has led a life of inner pain.  I have to believe that by this major revelation, being able to live life as herself out in the open and this transition will allow Bruce to find happiness and peace. 

Indeed, one can see the peace now in Bruce's eyes.  Some of it I am sure is the hormones, as they bring a calm to the brain of a transgender person.  The interview highlighted the recently confirmed fact that gender is indeed located in the brain.  Having the wrong sex hormones coursing through the brain can cause conflict, confusion and utter torment.  Almost all of us have felt this pain and its obvious Bruce has as well.  "Being Bruce isn't easy."

During the Interview a child psychologist spoke to the fact that if treatment or intervention is not present in a trans person's life by the teen years to at latest the mid 20's there is usually a crisis developing that can become catastrophic.  Many will commit suicide, turn to drugs, heavy alcohol or other self destructive behavior.  At best, a life of miserable hiding (sometimes from oneself as well as others) enfolds whether one lives in isolation or buries themselves in the obligations of family, work etc.

The psychologist also spoke to the fact that some transgender people can turn that inner struggle to outer success by pushing themselves to greatness in some area.  This is something that has always fascinated me about many of my trans brothers and sisters and Bruce is a shining example of this phenomenon.  Not only did he embrace pursuits characteristic of the most macho male, (which is common as many trans women enter the military or male dominated careers) he excelled at the highest level in one of the most demanding sports known to man.

Not as well known as professional sports, Olympic sports often provide the highest test of the skilled athlete.  The decathlon consists of 10 track and field events and is a grueling competition of the most highly trained athletes.  It also involves multitasking.  Bruce crushed his competitors and took a victory lap after the last event while the other athletes writhed on the ground in pain.  On the podium, accepting his prestigious award, Bruce celebrated with an empty anguish behind his eyes.

The struggle, the torment, focused inner pain into outer victory.  "Being Bruce isn't easy."  Now a smile meekly comes across his face as Bruce somewhat timidly explains his journey to the national television audience.  In that smile comes a relief.  Not only to be rid of this secret and experience this incredible journey but to be put in the position to share it with the world. 

How will his journey unfold?  What will his name for her be?  There has already been hormone treatment and facial surgery, but what other steps will Bruce take in transition?  He mentions Khloe Kardashian (not his biological daughter) as the only one of his children to express any real misgivings about this change, but she is also the one that told him if he is going to live the life of a woman, to be a woman, he needs to "have a vajayjay" as she puts it. 

He speaks of wanting to quietly have SRS, or gender reassignment surgery.   Having this surgery will likely make his transition more socially acceptable and hopefully will bring him another level of inner peace that simply living as herself may not.  Indeed, for many of us this surgical step brings a tremendous sense of relief and a feeling of completion not possible without it.

Like so many other trans people, Bruce still struggles with sexuality and sexual preference even while finally admitting and embracing his gender identity.  He says that for now he is asexual and is only attracted to females.  No matter, he has to follow his heart on matters of the heart as well as all other aspects of this transition, as this is a very personal and individualized process.  The only difference is in this case it is going to be a very public transition, one that will come with own reality show.

We all hope it will be tastefully done.  I hope the world, especially those not informed or in touch with transgender issues, is watching.  Stay tuned!

Once again, I am pulling for Bruce Jenner.

This is a link to The interview with Bruce Jenner

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