I've thought a lot about Bruce Jenner lately. Normally, I have no idea what the man is doing. I don't watch the Kardashian family reality TV show, or read celebrity magazines; but lately, you can't get away from what's going on with Bruce Jenner.
Transgender, according to the dictionary I used online, means: a person whose self-identity does not conform to conventional notions of male or female gender. From Wikipedia, taken from the GLAAD Media Reference Guide: "Transgender is the state of one's gender identity or gender expression not matching one's assigned sex." Wow...I truly can't imagine how difficult it must be to be in a body of a gender that doesn't match up to how one sees oneself.
Bruce Jenner is my age. I've tried to imagine what it would be like to have lived my whole life with a self-identity that didn't match up to who I was at the most basic level. The confusion, pain and anger this would cause would be huge and far-reaching. And, might not have been obvious for a long time. I have my own struggles with my self-identity, but certainly not with the fact that I'm a woman.
I think it's incredibly brave of Bruce Jenner to finally be going through a process of change that will allow him to be who he feels himself to be. The blow-back from family and culture is huge after revealing such a deeply personal truth about oneself. The strength required to stand up and say, this is who I am, and this is what I want to do about it, as well as to then stand up to the media and familial pressures that come in its wake, is admirable. To do this on the world stage takes a great amount of courage. And, even though he's doing it for himself...finally...he's also doing it for all of us. He's contributing to an open discussion and acceptance of what it means to be transgender, and helping everyone to deal with it in a way that will only help all the transgender people who come after him. He's in deep service to us all by doing what he's doing.
We're living in a time when so many ideas are being challenged and so many boundaries are being pushed, and it's a wonderful time to be alive. We're growing into a much more accepting culture through every discussion that's triggered by what Bruce Jenner, and people like him, are doing. And, thank goodness for the medical community that makes it possible for people to make this kind of transformation.
We've got a long way to go to get to the point where everyone is accepted and embraced for who they are, both personally and culturally, but Bruce Jenner is pushing us forward toward that goal. Each and every person who takes their personal journey public, and triggers deep thought and discussion around subjects that have historically been hidden in the shadows, is moving us all forward. And, step by step, we open our minds and hearts to each other, and find our way to an acceptance of each other that will allow us to live in freedom and safety.
Thanks, Bruce Jenner. You're helping us all more than you know.