To make it through a decathlon takes supreme athletic ability. To win it takes guts and determination. To come out as a transgender woman on national television takes a kind of bravery that is breathtaking.
Turns out Bruce Jenner, the world’s greatest athlete in 1976, would rather be Brenda* Jenner. Turns out some people think it’s a publicity stunt, some people don’t care, some people don’t understand why it’s news, other people are shocked and disgusted, some people are supportive – and maybe a few people are relieved to see that they aren’t the only ones who struggle and can find the courage to keep walking their own path.
I don’t pretend to understand the issues transgender people deal with. On that level, I just don’t get it. I don’t know what it’s like to feel like I am in an alien body. I spent half my life thinking something was wrong with me. I thought I was broken in some fundamental way but I never thought I should have been a man. But I do understand how it feels to hide from the world something that is intrinsic to who I am as a human being. It ain’t a lot of fun.
Something else I discovered last night, that should have been apparent all along – Kim Kardashian isn’t actually a vapid, plastic, brunette Barbie doll. Several weeks ago, she was asked about Bruce. She said that everyone has issues in life and it was his story to tell in his own way. That’s not an exact quote, but close enough. It was a classy, gracious deflection that I didn’t expect from her. It made me think – again – that what we see isn’t always exactly what we get. Just like with Bruce. With you. With me.
When the jokes die down, when Kardashian haters move on to something else, when another story comes along to capture our Attention Deficit Disorder society, Bruce will still be dealing with all the aspects of his decision. But maybe now when he wakes up in the mornings, he can finally be a peace with who he is – and isn’t that what everyone wants?
*I don’t know what name he will choose – I just pulled that out of the air.