Thanks to Diane Sawyer, the world now knows Bruce Jenner, the former Olympian and ex-husband of Kardashian family matriarch, Kris Jenner, as “She.” I almost didn't watch the interview, as I don't like when the media makes a spectacle of anyone's personal life, especially in a situation like this.
Bruce Jenner is transgender, and that's great. Why is it great? Because Bruce is a person, a person who has been hiding this secret for six and a half decades, through three marriages and the births of six children. Before Sawyer even asked the first question, Bruce was in tears and had to ask for tissues.
This magazine is all about empowering women, so I think this is pertinent. Biologically, is Bruce a woman? No. Not yet, at least. Does Bruce feel in his heart that he's a woman? Yes, and that's what matters. A female is not solely a person who is wrapped up in a pink blanket at birth, a female is any person who identifies that way. As Bruce Jenner, She was arguably one of the most masculine men on earth. As She? She is one of the nicest, funniest, most captivating, down to earth people I've ever seen. So, why is her story important?
It Brings Attention: Anytime a celebrity is attached to a cause or a minority group, a huge light is shone on it. Transgender people have been in the news more as of late, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they're more understood than they were ten, five, or even one year ago. Broadcasting clips that highlight transgender teen suicides on the 11 o'clock news doesn't actually do anything. She is a trailblazer because, as hard as it must have been to sit down and do that interview, She really went in depth about her struggle. If one person understands the life of a transgender person better now or can relate to her story, then that's change. It's a step in the right direction.
It Gives Hope: Most minority groups (see: anyone that isn't a straight, white male) are prejudiced in some way. Granted, we've made tremendous strides in changing these prejudices in the last few decades, but it's still an uphill battle. Of all minority groups, LGBT men and women are possibly the most misunderstood, and among the most hated, with an astounding 19.6% of hate crimes in 2012 being committed against people because of their sexual orientation (only second to race at 48.3%). Because of this, people are afraid to come out or talk about their gender identity or sexual orientation, which keeps these issues in the dark, and gives no hope of a bright future to LGBT men and women, especially youths, who are among the most vulnerable for self harm. According to The Trevor Project LGBT youths who are victimized in any way are 2.5 times as likely to attempt suicide than those who are not LGBT. Whether or not they are victimized, LGBT youths are still 3-4 times as likely to attempt suicide as those who aren't. Having someone, and someone famous at that, speaking on television for millions of people to see and telling them that it is okay gives them tremendous amounts of hope.
It Creates Understanding: Will a TV interview change the minds of those who are adamantly against LGBT men and women? Maybe... but probably not. How about those who just don't understand, or those who have an LGBT son, daughter, cousin, mother, father, aunt, uncle, friend and aren't accepting? Well... we can't predict that, but it will at least give them solid, accurate information, which is a great foundation.
She is an incredible human being, and I for one, am so inspired by her story.
If you are having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 (800) 273-8255