Bruce Jenner, who has blown up the Internet regarding his* gender identity, has finally admitted that he does identify as a women on his highly anticipated interview with Diane Sawyer. He said, “I’ve been thinking about this day forever and what I should do with my life. How do I tell my story, how to tell people what I’ve been through? And that day is today.”
He is relieved to finally come clean, to tell the world who he really is. He declares that he has kept these issues locked up for too long, hiding his torturous secret. His gender identity has been a constant struggle for him for as long as he remembers, starting in his early childhood when he frequently wore his sister’s clothes and his mother’s scarves, hiding his gender identity in fear of disappointing his loved ones. That fear only increased as he grew up, married, and had six biological children as well as four stepdaughters, the latter being the Kardashian sisters. He feared that the truth would hurt them. He has received nothing but positive feedback and support from them, though.
Because of the reality show, Keeping Up With the Kardashians, there were rumors that Jenner was simply doing this for publicity purposes, which completely demeaned all of his struggles and his bravery for finally telling the truth to millions of people. He states, “Do you have any idea what I’ve been through?” These accusations only make it even harder for him during his journey to becoming comfortable with himself. This could also negatively affect others who are struggling with coming to termed with their gender identity. When Jenner receives negative feedback, need to accept and love themselves. They could think that the same would happen to them and make it harder to tell the truth, to tell their stories. They might fear that they, too, will be accused of seeking attention, but both of these are revoltingly wrong. Jenner’s sister was interviewed and at first, she did not understand his gender identity confusion, but she still kept his secret for more than 30 years. As she watched her brother’s struggles with his identity, she finally realized that this could not be changed. She states, “You don’t get over this.”
Transgender people have been ostracized in many societies, including America. In the interview, Sawyer states that there are an estimated 700,00 people who identify as transgender and have long struggled with their gender identity. The rates of discrimination and hate crimes, which has often led to murders. There is also the issue of the resulting mental problems, including depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues that, unfortunately, have made these people believe that the only escape is suicide.
There has been an increase of interest in just how many hate crimes and murders have been committed against those who identify as another gender. The Transgender Violence Tracking Portal, or TVTP, is dedicated to tracking hall of the crimes committed against transgender people and it is the first of its kind. The goal of the project is to decrease the amount of violence against these individuals. When the report results were tallied, the numbers were staggering. Between January 1st and May 1st of 2014, there were “103 reports of transgender murders, 14 violent incidents and three silicone-related harms”. With this new way of tracking and reporting hate crimes against the transgender community, there is a greater chance of reducing this violence or, at the very least, putting these criminals behind bars, which is exactly where they belong.
Furthermore, the founder of TVTP, Allison Woolbert, states that “So often, the media and law enforcement are dismissive concerning the violence that is inflicted on transgender/genderqueer/non-binary people.” This already is a tragic and sickening problem. If our law enforcement, the people who are trained to protect us, discriminate against this population, too, how can we as American citizens expect to eradicate as much violence as possible and keep this community safer? We can’t. Without the dedication of the police force and legal protection, there is no freedom for these people. They live in fear of simply being who they are, doing what makes them happy, just like every other American outside of this group of people and it is sickening, absolutely unconstitutional.
When our founding fathers first declared independence from England, they declared that all men [sic] are created equal, that Americans have the right to pursue whatever makes them happy. Sexuality and transgender issues had not surfaced at that time; however, it is now a hot topic in today’s society. This country is supposed to be “the land of the free and the home of the brave”, yet these brave individuals are ostracized. Because of the stigma associated with the LGBT movement as well as mass confusion and rejection of these issues, the people whose gender assignment is incorrect, are the bravest of us all and yet they are still not free. They are fighting back, though. Their bravery has gone unnoticed, but they are strong and deserve the same freedoms as the rest of us. We cannot pick and choose who deserves the rights our forefathers promised us when they the long-standing, guaranteed the protection of American rights simply because we do not agree with or understand it. It is time to stop this discrimination, these hate crimes and vicious profiling of these individuals. Instead, it is time for every American to step up and support them through their journey of finally being who they truly are.
Jenner does leave us with some hope for the future. He states, “What I’m doing is going to do some good and we’re going to change the world.” As each transgender individual comes forward and tells their story, society will hopefully comes to terms with this community and learn to accept these people for who they are, not matter which gender they choose to identify as, and that’s the way it should have been all along. Catch up, America. It is 2015 and we have ostracized these people far too long. It is time to end the injustice once and for all.
If you are interested in learning more about the definitions of being transgender as well as the terminology associated with it, please follow this link.
*According to Sawyer, Jenner does not mind when people refer to him using male pronouns, though his children do refer to him using female pronouns but they call him “Dad”.