I’ll admit that I have yet to watch the Bruce Jenner interview with Diane Sawyer that is making headlines today. I am very burned out on trans issues and mostly I yawn when I hear of a news story. Even so, I have to admit that apparently, we are making progress. There’s no question that today it is easier and more acceptable to medically transition than it was when I began in 1989. Certainly, people who change their sex and legal and social gender are still pariahs, on both the left and the right – but we are more accepted than we have ever been and certainly more visible. Visibility erodes the mystery and a more informed public is less fearful and hopefully, in time, a little less confused. It is still not an easy road for anyone and I don’t recommend it unless transition is really something that you must do. Even so, if it is right for a person it is the best thing, and can save a person’s life and open up new vistas. So, I am going to watch the Jenner interview. The weight on Jenner’s head to say all the right things for all of us is enormous and no one can. Each person is ultimately only representative of themselves although certainly each visible trans person often has many things in common with other trans people. And also, many characteristics in common with other Americans or people all over the world. That should be obvious but it isn’t always.
What is intriguing about Jenner is not even that he (and he is still going by “he” for now) is most likely the most high-profile individual yet to transition, having even been on a Wheatie’s box, but that he is also part of an even smaller group of trans Americans – Jenner is a Republican. And, Bruce Jenner considers himself to be a “Christian” and a “Conservative”. This may actually be the more controversial revelation of last night’s interview, at least in some circles. Already some LGBT folks are feeling angry that Jenner is not a good little lefty, or at least – Democrat. Others however understand, that Jenner’s political nonconformity is a positive thing, even if they don’t share his opinions, because it illustrates that trans people are not the children of a cultural Marxist cabal but that we are simply Americans and want to pursue our particular happiness as we can. Jenner “believes in the constitution” and that constitution protects freedom for all of us, not simply for those whose life journey is more in line with commonly held expectations.
The far left actually has often been historically at odds with LGBT people and recently our worst detractors are called “TERFs” or “Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists”. I can also attest that some of the most hostile folks in any crowd that comes to one of the readings for my memoir are far lefties who are “against the binary”. I can usually spot them in the crowd, they are usually women with their lips set into a straight line, terse with anger way beyond any skepticism. They are the “queer women” who dislike me for being “too binary”.
So really, trans people have the rare and odd privilege of being denigrated by certain actors on both the left and the right — there is no pleasing everyone and sometimes anyone at all.
Of course, there are many on the left who are supportive and the right as well. Dennis Prager has said some supportive and clarifying words on transsexuals and I’ve noted that duly in this blog. It all comes down to people being informed and not having an ax to grind.
I am so glad that Jenner is out there informing and being visible, never an easy thing to do. And, further — that Jenner is visible as a particular kind of American, a conservative who values constitutional liberty. Thanks Bruce! I will be watching the interview with interest. I have to pay attention to this one.
Here about the Republican announcement and that other little announcement… http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/25/politics/bruce-jenner-diane-sawyer-transgender-lgbt-republican-conservative/