Saturday, April 25, 2015

Thoughts on Bruce Jenner and the Trans* Community

I am beginning this blog with an apology instead of my usual disclaimer about it being my opinion.  I want to apologize to my readers for not being able to post in such a long time.  I am no different than anyone else out in the world.  I go though personal, financial, mental and emotional problems too.  These and other reason have be the force behind my absence and I hope that you will all forgive me.  With that said on to the subject I have chosen to write about.  Last night I watched the Bruce Jenner interview and have spent the day reading twitter comments, Facebook comments, read hundreds of other writers blogs, and researched the general feeling of the country as a whole on what was said last night.  I will admit there are many out there that my deem me a misogynist or a hater for what I am about to write, however, I want it to be known that I am not a hater.  I speak only my opinion.  In addition to that my opinion is always based off of the cold hard facts.  Whether or not many members of the Trans* community wish to acknowledge these truths is entirely personal choice on their part.  I am not taking the side of Bruce and I am not taking the side of the people who think he is a joke.  I definitely find myself somewhere in the middle but I do want to stress the importance of one fact.  In order to make a educated opinion about any subject, Trans* related or not, one must have all the facts and basically do their homework.  Therefore, the following is my take on Bruce Jenner interview and his entry into a world that I am sure he is still attempting to figure out as all Trans* people are.  I say this because I am in high hopes that he (Bruce Jenner) and other major figures such as Fallon Fox, Laverne Cox, Janet Mock, Chaz Bono, etc will read these words and find a way to use it to support others.

I have to start my comment/opinion by saying that before the interview of Bruce Jenner I was hesitant.  I hoped that it was not a stunt or some form of a way to attract attention to himself after the divorce him and his most recent wife went through.  I thought he just wanted the limelight back on him, after all, he won a gold medal, what did she ever do?  I was sadly mistaken in my comments that he would make a fool of himself or make a mockery of the entire Trans* community.  Even though the interview was riddled with errors that would make most Trans women cringe, he handled himself with both professionalism and compassion.  Note that throughout this entry I will refer to Bruce Jenner with male pronouns strictly due to my wish to respect his wishes stated in the interview.  Many may disagree and that is fine with me.  I encourage people to voice their opinion whether or not it aligns with my own.  I can take on critics, I can defend myself with both tact and a level of  professionalism appropriate for an educated Transgender woman.  On to my opinion.

Simply put, I think that Bruce Jenner is a very brave individual.  This is where I will talk about why I think so.  There were many things about the interview that I loved and others that I did not.  I love that fact that he was willing to get on national television with one of the most influential interviewers of our time, Diane Sawyer, and come out to the world as Transgender.  He joins an ever growing list of people in the public eye who now have the courage to buck the social norms and truly be happy in life regardless of the critics opinions.  Now everybody will have bad to say and everybody has good to say.  Only time can tell how Bruce's career in the public eye will be effected in the future.  However, in the long run, who really cares.  As long as he is happy and content then I do not feel that anyone has the right to slam him for what he is doing by transitioning.  In addition, I have seen many Trans people throughout the country speak out to their frustration with Bruce and the interview.  One of the common themes I have seen, among numerous others, is the fact that he is a very wealthy person and that he will never really know the struggle that Trans people truly go through every day of our lives.  This is where I have to stand up and agree and disagree.  Whereas Bruce does have a financial fortune at his fingertips, that doesn't make his struggle much different than my own.  Bruce will most definitely have a far easier time financially for aspects of his transition such as SRS, or Sex Reassignment Surgery, FFS, or Facial Feminization Surgery (some of which he has already undergone), and very possibly a Breast Augmentation.  But how does that make his struggle with Gender Identity Disorder any different than any other Trans person on the planet.  Our struggle is one from within, it has nothing to do with how much money we have.  Money only makes our transitions faster, not easier.  I do not believe that his struggle with GID is any different than my own.  I may have to wait longer and work harder now to afford my surgeries, but Bruce Jenner has worked hard his entire life to get to where he is today.  Just because he has the financial means to go through transition smoothly and quickly after a lifetime of hard work and struggle doesn't mean that he is any less of a Transgender person or that it doesn't mean as much to him.  Now I can imagine what a large portion of the Trans* community is going to say to that point.  "Look at what I have to go through.  I am homeless, hungry, unemployed, and have been driven to abuse drugs and alcohol in my struggle.  I may never be able to afford surgery and I will be stuck like this.  In a body that I can barely stand to look at."  I have heard it time and again.  I hear many parts of that every day in my own head.  Does that mean these individuals struggle is more difficult than Bruce Jenner's struggle? It may be more difficult for that person, but that doesn't mean its harder.  Yes, the statistics don't lie.  The Trans* unemployment rate is over 50%, the suicide rate is at 45%, 80% of Transgender people report discrimination on college campus'.  I can use my own life as an example however.  I am a 33 year old Transgender female and been in transition for almost two years.  In my life I have had several suicide attempts and been down many roads that no person should ever have to travel.  I am married to a wonderful woman who supports me and I have two children who also support me.  We are a low income family.  We can barely afford our bills.  We have had struggles with homelessness, unemployment, and discrimination due to me being Transgender.  This whole struggle has been insane.  I have a family to take care of.  Children to feed and clothe.  A partner to keep satisfied, all while attempting to get through my transition.  I many never be able to afford surgery.  I am horrified of that thought but it is very real.  I hear so many Trans* people who complain about the same problems I have but in reality they may have no idea just how hard it can be.  Does that mean that my struggle is harder than theirs?  Of course not.  I have a set of responsibilities that a single Transgender person doesn't have to worry about but that doesn't mean it is a more difficult struggle.  The same holds true with Bruce Jenner.  He will have it easier financially than I, however, that does not change my opinion.  We all have struggles of all different types.  That doesn't mean that someone with or without money has a harder time than the other.  We all struggle at the same level.  Gay, Lesbian, Straight, Bi, Cis, Trans*.  It doesn't matter who you are, we all have struggles.  How you deal with and approach those struggles is what truly defines your character.

I also wanted to address a fact that I have seen to be growing more and more inside the Trans* community.  Many will disagree, but unfortunately for them they are not ready to hear the truth about themselves.  The truth is never and easy egg to swallow.  This growing "trend" I will call it, is this:  We as Transgender people discriminate against each other.  I am finding more and more problems with the community as a whole that I so desperately want to help.  The one that seems to be growing the fastest is in regards to how we treat each other.  Now, I understand that not everyone agrees or likes one another.  I also know that in order for any people as a conjunctive whole to be successful in a fight for rights and equality is actually to be a conjunctive whole.  To come together and join forces.  What happens when there is dissension among the ranks of a military platoon?  People die, moral plummets, and the large majority of the soldier's involved lose faith in the fight.  In other words, a people cannot hope to win a fight unless they fight on a united front.  Bickering amongst ourselves will never further the fight for equality and exposure that the Trans* community claims it wants so desperately.  The problem that I have with this logic is that it isn't logic.  Common sense says to treat everyone like you want to be treated.  I don't see much of this going on inside the Trans* community.  I have expressed my concern over this problem in the past and people have told me that if I am waiting for the LGBT or the Trans* community to unite then I am wasting my time.  I refuse to believe this.  I believe that if we cannot even stop bickering about the tiniest of issues inside our own community, then how can we, in good conscience, go to the larger community (the entire country) and ask them to treat us equally.  If we as the Trans* community cannot unite in our fight for equal rights, in much the same manner as many other minorities have in the past, we will never win our fight.  We may win battles, but the war will never be won.  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. united the black community and turned the tide for equal rights within the African American community.  This was back in the 1950's and the 1960's when civil rights were a concept thought to only be afforded to one class.  White, Anglo-Saxon Protestant Cis-gendered successful people.  How is the African American's fight for civil rights any different than our own?  Answer: it isn't any different.  The only difference is the era in which we live.  So many of my fellow Transgender people claim that we need a banner to rally behind or a public figure to rally behind.  I say this is a load of garbage.  Why do we need to have one person fight our own fight for us this day in age.  In our modern time we as humans have the ability to speak out and unite the community in which we live and participate or are members of to affect change.  We don't need a general, we need unity.  Without unity, we fail ourselves, our supporters, and each other.

I know that people may get into a massive uproar from time to time and that many people disagree.  We as a people should be able to disagree with one another without harming the mental and emotional health of others around us.  I want to remind my readers that this is only my opinions, but I have a strong belief that I am speaking the truth.  My opinion is based on the words, comments and concerns of you, the reader, and those whom I have followed in research.  Please take no offense but please sit back and contemplate the magnitude of what I say before jumping to an opinion.  Thank you for reading and I wish you all, including Bruce Jenner, the best of luck in your future endeavors.