Unless you are a Japanese World War II soldier that has been stranded on a deserted Pacific Island for the past 70 years you probably have heard that former gold medal Olympian and defacto Kardashian, Bruce Jenner announced he is a transgender woman in an interview with Jiminy Glick's vocal doppelgänger, Diane Sawyer (ever notice how her voice registers high and low based on the question she is asking? Just saying'). The media, Twitter, Facebook, The Pony Express, et. al. were all a buzz with wishes of congratulations and praise for his bravery in light of this announcement, but I have to be honest with you all, after watching the TWO HOUR special, I am not quite all aflutter like the rest of the country. I am, however, an optimist and I hope for the best in light of Bruce's announcement but my Spidey-sense is telling me to expect a cluster.
Let me start out by stating I am very supportive of anyone who is stepping out of the shadows to announce who they are. I am appalled that in this day and age people still feel the need to be in the closet based on stigmas that are perpetuated by the least evolved of society. If you have read any of my past blogs at all or if you know me, you are well aware that I am a huge supporter of the LGBT community. Not only do I support the community with in my blog posts and in life, but I also support organizations like The Human Rights Campaign and NoH8 which fight for equal rights for the LGBT community. So I am nothing but happy when I see any advancement toward the cause at all.
That being written, after watching Bruce's interview on the micro level and then analyzing the story as it has unfolded on the macro level I have to say that I am not very excited about the prospects of him advancing the cause. And though he claims he is going to "change the world" I have no proof in his history that Bruce Jenner, the man as he is now, has an advocacy bone in his body. Plus I can't help to think that he is in a family that has been associated shameless publicity for the past 20 years. A family who parlayed a sex tape and big asses into a multi-million (or even sadder, billion) dollar machine. A family that over the past 10 years has denigrated this once great Olympian (and CHiP's Eric Estrada replacement; don't forget about his 6 episodes in season 5) into a doddering Darrin from Bewitched-like character. This just may be Bruce's way to retain the limelight which he lost with the rise of his extended family, and that makes me nervous for all those that have put faith in him as a turning point for transgender rights.
Bruce says he is not promoting a show which is a sentiment I whole heartedly believe. It seems unfortunately, much simpler though. Bruce Jenner is recreating, remarketing and promoting Bruce Jenner (and his soon to be announced gender reassignment identity) and so far I have say he is doing a good job. The Diane Sawyer Interview with him garnered over 17 million viewers. He got 80 million hits online after the interview. Shortly after the interview, I started to see highly stylized pictures of a 1976 Bruce crossing the finish line with the word "BRAVE" stamped across it. Again, maybe this was done by an independent graphic artist, but my Spidey-sense is saying that it is all part of a larger marketing campaign for a reality show he is starring in that will track his journey.
With that, I am in no way downplaying his struggle. Make no mistake, Bruce Jenner's transgender struggle is real and not to be taken lightly. Nearly 50% of all teens with such gender issues attempt suicide. Worldwide a transgendered person is murdered every 3 days. These are not issues to take lightly and I do not want to seem flippant about them. My concern is about Bruce who has been dealing with his identity all his life, 65 years, and has yet to lift a finger in advocacy for the LGBT community.
I am not saying it is required and he seems to have just gotten the courage to come out of the closet with this but, nothing. Ever. I am not LGBT but I stand in solidarity with the community against the bigotry and discrimination that is exercised on an institutional level. I donate. I write in support. I teach my children to support the community. I can't find any instance of Bruce Jenner doing any of that AND HE IS FREAKING BRUCE JENNER! He is a household name that has been in the public eye as a bonafide American hero for decades. He is a person who, if he chose to, could have possibly swayed public opinion when people like Brandon Teena, the basis for the movie "Boys Don't Cry" were getting killed by small minded bigots. Why now and not 10, 20, 30 years ago?
Seriously, in my mind, Chaz Bono gets all the credit in the world. Chaz wrote for The Advocate, was a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign and was the media director for GLAAD. Chaz has been in the trenches trying to secure rights for those in the LGBT community for years and honestly did not have to do it. Let's face facts, CHAZ IS CHER'S KID! Chaz didn't have to do anything in life but live off of Sonny and Cher residual dough and enjoy life. I am sure "I Got You Babe" money is still rolling in from 1965! But rather than just live off of the parental tit, Chaz got out there and worked hard for a community which at the time was just starting to make gains. By the way, Bruce, Chaz did this before and while undergoing gender reassignment. And Chaz Bono was doing it before the leader of the free world even acknowledged the existence of the transgender community. President Obama has recently mentioned the community by name, the first president to do so, but Bruce doesn't give a shit about that. (More on that later.)
Bruce has had his opportunities to be that agent for change in the past and has seemed to let them pass. Here are just the a few off the top of my head:
Back in 1976, the same year Bruce was winning gold in Montreal, Renee Richards petitioned to play in the U.S. Open and was denied entry by the Women's Tennis Association. You see Renee Richards was Dr. Richard Raskind a year earlier and elected to undergo gender reassignment surgery. Long story short, Ms. Richards sued for the opportunity to play in the U.S. Open, eventually won her case and played in in the tournament in 1977. Supposedly, she and Bruce have been friends for years and since Bruce has been struggling with his gender identity all his life I wonder why that was not a golden opportunity to show support to Ms. Richards. Back in the 70's he could literally do no wrong, where was his activist streak then?
Oh how about back in the 1980's when Bruce was taking female hormones. By that time he was well into his 30's/mid 40's. Bruce even claims to have had solid B cup breasts. You would think that he would feel a kinship to the LGBT community at least on the periphery yet I don't seem to remember Bruce Jenner as a supporter of LGBT rights. This was in the 1980's when AIDS was new and the community was looking for big names to help get out the message. I bet they would have accepted Bruce with open arms and the media would have loved him for it.
OK, how about the 90's when his wife Kris' best friend, Nicole, was murdered by OJ Simpson, was Bruce (or Kris for that matter) out talking about the plight of battered women? Were they even manning a battered women's phone bank? No, they were plotting how to make money. In the ABC interview, Bruce credits Kris with getting his "career" (being Bruce Jenner?) back on track. No mention of helping anyone but himself.
Then come the 2000's, a new millennium, (as sung by Robbie Williams). Think about everything that has gone on since 2000. 9/11 (he is from New York state I don't remember seeing Bruce or Kim at Ground Zero), Katrina (his step daughters love black men so there's a link, right?), hell the super storms that hit NY and Jersey! All this opportunity and what is Bruce most famous in the oughts (2000's)? Freakin' Keeping Up With the Kardashians.
Just by the by... I'm not a doctor, but I play one on my blog, but I thought his comment in the interview where he stated "I had the story the whole time" in reference to KUWK show to be a bit narcissistic. The big asses, the parties, 2-multimillion dollar weddings, 70 day marriages, two spouses with substance abuse problems (Lamar Odom and Scott Disick), your own face-lift reversal, Rob K's socks, etc., etc, etc, have all seemed to keep the bills paid for quite a while. Let's wait and see if your story can trump all that in the long run. Seriously, they all have big asses!
Quite frankly, what happens from here is up to Bruce. Once the gender reassignment is completed, will Bruce (who has yet to release his reassignment name... which I applaud because the sweet Lord knows the Kardashians keep nothing to themselves) choose to continue riding the publicity-whoring, money-making train and make this another Kardashian three ring circus event or will she emerge to be a beacon for those who feel they have no hope? Like I stated earlier, I am an optimist and if this ultimately, moves the needle in a positive way toward a greater acceptance of transgender individuals around the world, I am ecstatic. Quite frankly, of the LGBT group, the "T" seems to get the least amount of press yet the greatest amount of ridicule so if Bruce Jenner is the vessel for change then I am over the moon. But until I can get some confirmation that Bruce is not Norman Osborn/Green Goblining me, I will remain a bit skeptical.
Oh yeah, just a little aside...
Hey Bruce, on the "Conservative Republican" thing...
Good luck with that. Ask John Boehner or any of the other GOP candidates for president what they think about legalized same sex marriage. Fox News seems to have some very enlightened thoughts on transgender persons in America. I sure just hope you don't plan on celebrating with a cake from a bakery in Oregon or a pizza from Indiana.
The "not a fan" quote in reference to the first President to acknowledge the existence of transgender Americans was not a good PR step by my estimation and the follow up of "I believe in the Constitution" sounds silly when you are trying to direct your "shade" at a Constitutional scholar. Just be aware, the same people you are supporting were trying to get a constitutional amendment that may effect the new community that has tacitly embraced you, so you have that to work through too. After your procedures, you will not be seen as the Bruce Jenner who won the decathlon that "Joe Sixpack" praised, you will be seen in a different light. I hope you can make that a positive light for this group because if your announcement can crack the social conservative nuts (see what I did there) that have a grip on the GOP then you are are not just an inspiration, but a miracle worker for the ages. I for one, in all seriousness, wish you all the best and if you are truly committed to helping advance the cause of LGBT rights, I will not only support you but I will be YOUR biggest advocate.