Bruce Jenner and Me

I usually get between 150 and 400 page views on my blog on a normal day. Yesterday I got 700. I’m thinking it was the Bruce Jenner interview.

Because I was on an airplane flying home to Colorado when the show aired, I did not get a chance to watch it until last night. I admire Jenner for his bravery and patience as he has dealt with the media. I deeply appreciated Diane Sawyer and the show put together by the producers at ABC. The clips and the people they interviewed were perfect. The tone of the show was compassionate and informative.

I did struggle to feel much compassion for Jenner during the actual interview. Maybe all those years in front of a camera have made him jaded. The New York Times article about the interview also noted an incongruity between the subject matter and his demeanor. Nevertheless, I did resonate with almost everything Jenner said about his experience as a trans person. At one time or another I have spoken almost every single word he said about being trans. There are far more similarities in our stories than dissimilarities. He said he felt he had been living a lie. I never felt that way. I was just struggling to be a male. That is hardly living a lie. That was probably the only major area in which our stories were significantly different.

I wanted to shout “yes” to a few comments. I hate when the media calls a trans person, “a woman trapped in a man’s body.” I have never felt that way. It is inaccurate, trite, and dismissive. Nobody is trapped anywhere. I am just trans, that’s all. I also loved when Bruce said simply but clearly, “My brain is more female than male.” Yep, exactly.

I do hope Time Magazine is right and we have passed the transgender tipping point. As Jenner said at the end, “Pease keep an open mind. We are pretty normal people.” Jennifer Boylan suggested if you are among the eight percent of the population who do know someone who is transgender, you develop compassion pretty quickly. Certainly if you remove the Evangelical population from my personal experience, I would be in agreement. Almost everyone else in my life has been absolutely great.  (And the few Evangelicals who have been supportive have been wonderfully so, sometimes at a cost with their coworkers and peers.)

Like Bruce Jenner, I too feel in many ways I have lived a charmed life. He said he imagined God “threw this in at the end” when he was creating Bruce, realizing he needed something with which to struggle. While I do not think God had much to do with me being trans, I do believe God is very interested in how I deal with it. I know I have not been perfect, but I am living honestly, openly, and with as much integrity as I can muster. And when that is the case, you sleep well at night, very well.

It is good to be me.

 

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7 thoughts on “Bruce Jenner and Me

  1. I’ve been waiting for your take on “The Interview”. I thought the presentation was very well done. As I watched the clips of Bruce Jenner, World’s Greatest Athele, at the ’76 Olympics, I was again reminded that we truly never know what is going on in people’s lives. I applaud his decision to live authentically, just as I did your decision. One thought–I couldn’t help but notice that you and Jenner are close in age when you simply could not reject your real self any more. Wisdom of age?? Realization that we’re in our last quarter, and unwilling to squander it?? Thoughts… Think of you often, old friend.

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  2. I’d say both things are valid Jennifer. Wisdom of age and the realization that we’re in the last quarter. But mostly the compelling need to be yourself just cannot be ignored any longer. And when it shows up in the desire to end your life, you know something is terribly wrong.

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  3. Paula,

    Thanks for sharing your life so publicly. Maybe I will have a memorial service at some point for my own past life of living socially and physically as a man. My mom even this morning said ‘I will never view you as anything but my son or call you anything but your birth name. my brain just can’t handle it’. At this point I’m an attractive looking female, and have had most legal documents changed. And like you, the majority of my friends view me as female, especially if they have met me since starting my physical transition. The main people who have given me trouble are evangelical conservatives. Having a memorial service might be helpful for someone like my mother, but I feel like I am an intact whole and on the same continuum of my life trajectory to love God with all of me, not just parts.

    I’ve used the analogy for other evangelicals that I am renovating my body like Solomon did the temple for David. My spirit can finally be at rest in my body. Did the Israelites memorialize the loss of their tent or just celebrate their new temple? My body, while physically beautiful before, now radiates a joy, peace, and love that others notice on a regular basis. My heart is now worn on my sleeve, whereas before it felt buried beneath the tent. Now, even when away on travel, walking around the city, or hiking in the woods, I feel at home in my body.

    Maybe instead of a memorial, we should have a ground breaking ceremony when we begin our physical transition.

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  4. Paula – I have been reading your blog for a while now, and have been intrigued by how your journey has mirrored the stages of grief, which we all,go through with every change although only notice them in the big stuff. Thanks for sharing all of that. Your wisdom of a lifetime shows through in how you have managed your transition. I have forwarded your site to so many – some curious, some seeking, some in the middle of it themselves. They have found great comfort in your openness. Thanks for that. I hope one day to get to speak to you in person, a thought, as you know, that made me uncomfortable when we first spoke of it a year ago. But God never seems to let me wallow in uncomfortableness too long. Jenner may get all of the attention right now – a need he may have from living in Kardashian-land so long – but I will always cherish your thoughts on such a decision, and your honesty in letting us weary road warriors ponder through it all. God bless my friend.

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