I’m so glad I haven’t had to cover this story. Apparently, Bruce Jenner has been looking more and more like a woman, with longer hair, manicured nails, and makeup. The tabloids and some people (not me) have been talking about it for months. But yesterday, it was reported the former Olympic star is transitioning into a woman.
A source close to the family told People magazine, “Bruce is transitioning to a woman .. He is finally happy and his family is accepting of what he’s doing. He’s in such a great space. That’s why it’s the perfect time to do something like this.”
The attention bestowed, or forced, on Jenner makes absolutely no difference to me. Jenner became famous for running in the 1976 Olympics. His Web site says he broke the world record for the Olympic decathlon and earned the title “World’s Greatest Athlete.” He even appeared on the front of Wheaties breakfast cereal.
Then, it seems we hadn’t heard about him for years. It often happens when people hit their 15 minutes of fame. Jenner’s official bio gives him lots of titles like entrepreneur, TV personality, actor, producer, and author. It also calls him “a devoted husband and father of ten (see below)” who “can be found spending time with his family onscreen on E! Network’s Keeping up with the Kardashians” which was “rated as the #1 show for the first two seasons.”
He’s now 65 and was married to his third wife, Kris Jenner, from 1991 to 2014. She was married to and divorced from the late lawyer Robert Kardashian, the only Kardashian I’d even heard of, who helped defend O.J. Simpson. (I covered the defense portion of that trial for WSVN on a daily basis. I’m sure Robert is rolling over in his grave when he looks down and sees what his family has become!)
Bruce Jenner had two kids with his first wife, two more with his second, and two more with Kris. That’s six. Kris had four with Robert Kardashian. That’s ten. They all became famous after Robert Kardashian died. I’m not going to name them because I don’t think they deserve the attention. You could say they’re famous for being famous because I don’t think they’ve done anything.
Back to the “news” of the day. So Bruce Jenner reportedly feels the need to transition into a female?
The GLAAD Media Reference Guide calls transgender a “term for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from what is typically associated with the sex they were assigned at birth.” It also says “Typically, transgender people seek to make their gender expression align with their gender identity, rather than the sex they were assigned at birth” and “a person’s sex is actually a combination of bodily characteristics including: chromosomes, hormones, internal and external reproductive organs, and secondary sex characteristics.” It’s called Gender Dysphoria and it has nothing to do with sexual orientation, drag, or cross-dressing.
I certainly don’t have any problem with people transitioning, if they feel the need. Live and let live! Heck, in the past two days, The Daily Beast reported the Graduate Center at CUNY is banning the salutations Mr. and Ms. (yeah, that’s a little overboard), and The Advocate reported the U.S. Navy is even allowing a name change! I don’t think public money should go towards prisoners transitioning, but I’m not worried about whoever sees me in the bathroom.
What gets to me slightly is what People also reports: that Jenner is recording his transition and plans to air it! (I guess, once a reality star, always a reality star.) There’s nothing wrong with him going out in the world, regardless of how he looks. In fact, that’s brave. Hopefully his new show, if it airs, will be educational. The public has lots to learn. Perhaps the attention he’s getting is really being bestowed and not forced on him. But I wouldn’t want to draw attention to myself in that way. It’s just not me.
Bruce Jenner was a great Olympian. He was a hero who made Americans feel proud of themselves when they needed it during tough economic conditions and the Cold War. As of now, that’s how he should be remembered. Maybe someday, he’ll also be considered a hero for the transgendered. I hope so. But not looked back on for his other reality TV work.