Bruce Jenner’s Interview with Diane Sawyer

On Friday, ABC aired Bruce Jenner’s much anticipated interview.  He sat down with Diane Sawyer to talk about his life and his coming out as transgender.  I have never in my life seen an episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, but I have so much respect for Bruce Jenner.  It was mentioned how there’s an age divide in how we know Bruce, older folks having seen him in the Olympics, and the younger generation seeing him on the reality show.  I’m sure people tuned in for many different reasons, because they’ve been aware of the media attention he’s recently had, because they’ve heard the rumours and wonder if they’re true, because they like reality TV and this is a sort of extension of it, because they’re generally curious and want to learn more about transgender issues.  I thought the interview was very informative and very important.

I remember reading some of the comments on an article about the interview, and someone had responded with “Who cares?”  I generally don’t care about the lives of celebrities either, but this interview was so important for so many reasons.  Many people do not have a clear understanding about issues like gender identity and sexuality.  Watching the interview was very informative, and even more so because it came from a person who has lived it.  I think Bruce did such a good job explaining the difference between sexuality and gender identity, stating that “sexuality is who you go to bed with, and gender identity is who you go to bed as.”  I recall Diane Sawyer looking really confused about it, but having not seen very many of her interviews, I realize that could just be her natural facial expression.

Sometimes it’s difficult for me to realize that not everyone is as informed and educated about certain matters.  I’ve taken Psychology courses and Gender Studies courses that deeply explored the topics of sexuality and orientation.  I’ve watched TV shows and documentaries about these topics.  I have friends and acquaintances who have different sexual orientations.  It baffles me how things like same sex marriage are still illegal in many parts of the world.  As society has come a long way in becoming more accepting of gay rights, the transgender community has not really received that same level approval.  But I still found myself wondering why Bruce Jenner coming out was so shocking to so many people.  Apart from the fact that it was him.  Why is the fact that any individual comes out as transgender, such a big deal in 2015?

The reason I asked that question, is because Bruce Jenner isn’t the first celebrity to come out as transgender, although I think he is definitely the most famous person to do so publicly.  My point is that it’s not something that’s new, even if many people may not be so knowledgable about it.  I tried to think of other transgender celebrities.  The main person who came to mind was Laverne Cox.  I have never seen Orange is the New Black, since I don’t have Netflix.  Tragic, I know.  But I did see her on an episode of The Mindy Project and I loved her.  But I don’t really know much about her, as I never heard about her coming out.  When I first heard of her, she was already out, so there was no surprise.  In terms of other celebrities, I thought of Chaz Bono.  We heard all about it when he came out and transitioned.  But I don’t recall any big memorable interview or anything.  Nevertheless, it was still in the media, so anyone paying attention would have heard about it.

There was also a few years ago where there was a news story about a pregnant man.  It was a female to male transition.  Thomas Beatie was transgender, but had not had surgery, so was still able to have a baby.  That was a big story for a while, but then everyone forgot about it.  I remember watching a CSI episode several years ago, where the victim was transgender, and they explored the transitioning process and the surgery, and everything that was involved.  I remember watching a documentary several years ago, about three people who were married with kids, who were coming out as transgender.  I can’t remember which channel it was on, or how widespread it was broadcast, since they weren’t famous people.  They were middle aged, but I think slightly younger than Bruce Jenner, and had come to the point where they didn’t want to hide who they were anymore.  They were all male to female transitions.  One of the wives stayed with her partner, saying that she had fallen in love with the person, not the gender.  She joked with the interviewer that maybe people would consider her a lesbian now, since her husband had transitioned and they were figuring out their sex life.

In terms of sexuality, Bruce Jenner tried to explain to Diane how it was different from his orientation.  There are questions that arise like are you gay and he explained that he has always been attracted to women.  In terms of pronouns, Bruce has asked that we continue to use he and him, until he officially transitions and comes out as a woman.  A lot of people have trouble with this and base the pronouns on whether you have a penis or a vagina.  You have to take into account that a person’s sex and gender are two different things.  When I was younger, I assumed that for a male to female transition, you would call the person he before surgery, and she after surgery, and vice versa.  But this is not the case.  Even if a person has male genitalia, if she identifies as a woman, you should use she.  Unless, like in Bruce’s case, he has specifically requested a certain pronoun be used.  Too bad we didn’t follow Sweden’s example and come up with a gender neutral pronoun.  That would make things so much easier, not just regarding gender issues, but for language use in general.

Using the correct pronoun based on the gender a person identifies as is important, especially since not every transgender person decides to have surgery.  Just as you would not ask a cisgender individual about what’s between their legs, it would similarly be inappropriate to ask this of a transgender individual.  Unless you’re in a sexual relationship with the person, it doesn’t need to be a matter of discussion, unless it’s something that they choose to bring up.

I love that Bruce Jenner is able to acknowledge and appreciate the humour in the situation.  He even acknowledges the irony that he, of all people identifies as a woman, since he’s regarded as the world’s greatest athlete, having won the decathlon in 1976.  Many viewed him as this strong, macho man, and I guess that’s part of why it’s so surprising to so many people.  He addressed the fact that people had speculated that this was all for publicity and to draw ratings for the show.  He laughed at how utterly ridiculous those accusations were.  As if he would really go through all this, just to draw in ratings.

He talked about when he was a child and growing up, and how this has been a part of him his whole life.  When questioned about why he waited until now, at age 65, to finally come out, his main reason was that he didn’t want to hurt his family.  He loves his children and didn’t want to do anything that might cause them to be hurt, which is totally understandable.  Him deciding to come out in such a public way will hopefully help foster understanding and encourage other transgender individuals to embrace who they are and have the courage to come out without fear.

I remember reading one of the comments on one of the articles and someone asked will he have to give back his medals?  Why?  Why would he have to give back his medals?  I see no reason for this.  He competed and won, as a man.  He wasn’t on hormones at the time.  I wonder though, how they would handle a situation in the Olympics today, if a young transgender individual were to compete.  What category would they be put in?  Because with the Olympics and sporting events, it’s physical, and I assume the fact that there are separate categories for men and women, is due to the fact that we are physically built differently.  If a person is built like a man, but identifies as a woman, which category would she compete in?  There has always been such a gender divide in athletics, so I don’t actually know how they would address this if it were a person who, at the time of competing, was currently out as transgender.  Bruce, at the time of his Olympic success, had the physicality of a man, even if he inwardly identified as a woman, so I see no issue with his win.  Apparently they interviewed the Soviet man who he beat in the decathlon who is supportive and also joked about how he can’t believe he was beat by a woman.  My first thought was, who cares whether or not that guy approves?

I remember Bruce Jenner saying that of his family, Khloe was the won who had the hardest time dealing with it, and I thought, who cares what Khloe thinks?  But as her stepdad, I’m sure it meant a lot to Bruce.  One of the most shocking things about the interview to me, was that Kanye West, of all people, was the one who helped Kim Kardashian accept Bruce Jenner’s coming out.  I’m not a fan of either Kim or Kanye, especially not Kanye, since he always seems so arrogant and so full of himself.  I mean this is a person who got mad at a guy in a wheelchair for not standing during one of his performances.  Who knew he would actually say something good?  I remember seeing a tweet from Perez Hilton saying that Kris Jenner refused to comment to ABC, and then Kris Jenner replied his tweet, getting mad at him and saying she was watching the documentary with Bruce at that moment.  I’m not at all a fan of Kris Jenner.  They showed some clips from the show, and there was one where she was getting mad at Bruce about the way he was dressed, and told him that he looked like a grandpa.  And I thought, but, he is a grandpa…  So what’s the problem?  Maybe she seems overly nasty for the show, or maybe she’s even worse in real life?  But it’s not about her, so who cares?

I know this has nothing to do with anything, but speaking of Bruce Jenner’s family, his son is kind of hot.  Two of his sons, actually Brandon and Brody.  But anyway, it’s so great that his family is so supportive and accepting.  He’s really lucky, not just because he’s famous, but because those closest to him are able to offer support.  He is also lucky that he has the money for hormones and to have the surgery if he chooses to.  Soon after the interview, much of what I read in the media was very positive.  But I then started noticing new comments from people who were still making fun of the situation and calling him gay and generally not understanding.  I guess that’s to be expected, as no matter what you do or who you are, there will always be people who judge you for it.  While there will always be ignorant people in this world who are unable to wrap their heads around things they don’t understand, I believe that this interview has probably helped a lot of people to further understand and be open to accepting the transgender community.

Happy Birthday Mom!

It’s my mom’s birthday today.  So I thought I should acknowledge that in a blog post.  I know she won’t read it since she hardly ever uses the computer, but that doesn’t matter.  It’ll be like acknowledging her birthday in secret.  Except not because a bunch of other people will read it.  But whatever.  I’ve started the post already so it’s going to exist.

I would like to say that my mom is my role model.  But I don’t want five kids.  Yeah, she had five.  I’m the oldest.  And that’s pretty much what put me off of having any.  I remember her saying she had me first so I could be a built in babysitter.  How nice of her.

So the desire to have many children is not something that I share with my mother.  But we do share other things.  I think I got my love for writing from her.  I don’t think I’m as good a writer as she is.  But I’m obnoxious enough to write publicly as opposed to privately.  She’s written several things that she hasn’t done anything with.  She told me that in her will she would leave me all her writings for me to do something with.  What the hell she expects me to do with them, I have no idea.  But maybe I could always start a new blog called “Stuff my mom wrote”.  It would probably be a whole lot more interesting than this one.

mom

My mom and I a couple years ago in front of a bear statue. One of my dad’s old classmates had this art exhibit out in Langley so we attended. I’m not really into art. But there was free wine and cheese, which my mom and I both appreciated.  We both love purple as well, probably because we look so good in it.

Happy birthday mom!  Thanks for all your love and support and words of wisdom!

Happy 25th Anniversary Mom & Dad!

Today is my parents’ 25th Anniversary. I don’t have anything particular to say about it on here, but I figured I should dedicate a post to them, even if they won’t read it or know it exists. They do know I have a blog. My mom’s never read it because she doesn’t spend much time on the computer. She describes herself as computer illiterate. Which is a shame since she really ought to have her own blog because she’s really good at writing. Maybe one day I can convince her to start one.

My dad has read my blog before, but as far as I know, he’s only read posts from last year. One time this year he asked me if I was still blogging. I’m not sure if he’s read any of my newer posts or not. He probably doesn’t have time. But he has read some of my tweets and Facebook statuses from time to time. And while I never post anything bad, I still won’t add him as a friend, because I don’t want his entire news feed to be filled with all the dumb stuff that I have to say. It’s far better that I spare him from that.

Even if they never read this, I want to take this opportunity to congratulate them on 25 years of marriage and thank them for all that they’ve done for me. I’m really lucky to have such great parents. 25 years is a long time. Especially considering they’ve had to put up with me for 24 of those years. Can you imagine? Not to mention the years spent with my siblings as well. All four of them. Being married for 25 years and raising five kids. I do think that deserves some sort of acknowledgement and praise.

In the past, I’ve never bothered about their anniversary, or even known when the date was. Because I’ve always thought that anniversaries should be about the two people who are celebrating it. Why should other people be involved or care? That being said, if my parents hadn’t decided to get married and have kids, I wouldn’t be here. What a gift to the world that was, right? So really, you should all be thanking them, because if not for them, there would be no me. And without me, there’d be no blog. And if that were the case, then what would you be reading right now?

I’m not cool

So the other day as I was sitting on the bus, I remembered a random memory from my childhood.  I’m not sure how exactly it popped into my head, there must have been a long process of certain things making me think of other certain things, thoughts constantly jumping every which way until they led up to that memory.  You know the crazy ways the mind works.  This particular memory made me laugh to myself and think about how my sense of humour and outlook on life has always been with me from a very young age.  A sense of humour and outlook that not everyone seems to understand.

I’m the type of person who uses a lot of sarcasm.  But I’m that person who will make a sarcastic comment and have people not realize that it was intended as a sarcastic comment.  I’ll say it and they’ll give me a weird look and be like “What?  Really?”.  And I’ll be like “No, I was being sarcastic”.  And then they’ll think that me saying I was being sarcastic was sarcasm.  Yeah, I undergo a lot of communication difficulties because of this.  But it’s okay.  Because there are a few people who do get me and do understand.  And that’s what’s important.

I’m also the type of person who puts herself down a lot.  But not in a depressing way.  Well okay, I suppose it can be in a depressing way.  But a funny and witty depressing way if that makes any sense to you.  Pretty much every time I make a self-deprecating remark, it’s for the sake of humour.  Because I think that the funniest people and best comedians are the ones that can make fun of themselves.  Anyone can make fun of other people.  But I really admire those who are comfortable enough to make fun of themselves.

So this memory that came to mind the other day was when I was in Grade Seven.  I may be a bit fuzzy on the details, because my memory is not what it used to be.  Actually maybe it is, maybe I’ve always had a bad memory.  I really don’t remember.  Anyway, we were at this youth group and sitting in a circle.  I think it was some sort of small group icebreaker thing.  I always hated those small group icebreaker things.  I’ve never liked being forced to bond with people.  If I want to, I will, but it’ll be my decision to do so.

We had to go around the circle and say our name and something cool about ourselves.  I hate that.  It’s always something.  Like let’s go around and say your most embarrassing moment.  Or if you could be an animal, what animal would you be?  Or where you’d like to be in five years.  What is this, an interview?  I already knew the kids in my group anyway, they were in my class.  But I guess this was just one of those fun ways to pass the time.

It always sucks to go first in those things, because then you have to think quickly about what you’re going to say.  I wasn’t first, so I got to hear the other kids before I said mine.  It didn’t have to be anything special, you could literally say anything.  I remember one kid said he liked Star Wars.  That’s the only thing I remember.  And then another kid responded with “That’s not cool”.  Great, now we were being judged for what our own definition of cool was.  I don’t think any of the things we said were actually “cool”.  But then really, how do you define cool?  It’s all subjective anyway.

When it came to me, I’m sure there were a lot of things that I could have said.  I think I was going to say that I was the tallest one in the school or something like that.  But I didn’t.  What did I say instead?  I said “I’m Dominique, and I’m not cool”.  I didn’t mean it seriously.  I meant it as a joke.  Saying that I wasn’t cool was my own way of rebelling and making a statement about what I thought of the icebreaker.  I had specifically answered the question by refusing to answer the question.  I thought I was being clever.

But other people didn’t think so.  My response was received with some people going “Aww..” and then actually trying to suggest something that I could say about why I was cool.  They didn’t seem to understand that I didn’t want or need their suggestions, and I was perfectly fine with my original answer.  They thought that I was actually so sad that I couldn’t come up with a single thing about me that could be considered cool.

I could have taken this experience and changed my ways and tried to assimilate to behave in a way that other people found more acceptable.  I could have started to answer questions more appropriately and toned down my sarcasm in the future.  But I didn’t.  Because that’s just not who I am.  Even now, a lot of you probably thought from the title of this blog post that this was going to be me writing about the reasons that I’m not cool and that it would be all depressing.  Who would do something like that?  Actually, that does sound like something I might do.  But I would do it for the sake of humour and nothing else.  Because I’m cool like that.