Bruce Jenner’s Journey

In the introduction of Trans Bodies, Trans Selves, Jennifer Finney Boylan says, “If I’ve met over 5,000 transgender people, I’ve probably heard 5,000 different explanations of what it means to be trans, and what our defining experiences are.”[1] Bruce Jenner’s recent interview with Diane Sawyer embodies her statement that there is no one path to being trans. For example, at the beginning of the interview, Jenner says, “I hate the [phrase] ‘girl stuck in a guy’s body’… I’m me, I’m a person, and this is who I am. I’m not stuck in anybody’s body, it’s just who I am as a human being.”[2] He is disavowing a narrative that many trans people identify with because it’s not the right one for him. He also rejects the idea that he is necessarily “all woman” or “all man.” (I, like ABC, am using male pronouns because Bruce has specified that at this time, they are appropriate.) He says, “for all intents and purposes I am a woman… They see you as this macho male, but my heart and my soul and everything I do in life is part of me. That female side is part of me. It’s who I am.”[3] Bruce’s story has complexity and nuance because it is real, and real stories always contain shades of gray.

As this Huffington Post article points out, Diane Sawyer’s interview was a great example of how to conduct an interview on trans issues with respect. She didn’t spread misinformation about Jenner’s life like Piers Morgan did to Janet Mock, or ask invasive questions about his genitals like Katie Couric did to Carmen Carrera. One point the ABC interview drove home was that “genitals do not equal gender.” This concept is not foreign to anyone familiar with trans issues, but it might be for someone new to the topic. Jenner’s choice to go public with his gender struggles is brave, and I commend ABC for giving him a respectful platform to share his journey.

[1] Jennifer Finney Boylan, “Throwing Our Voices: An Introduction,” ed. Laura Erickson-Scroth (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), xvi.

[2] Bruce Jenner, “Interview with Diane Sawyer.” 20/20, ABC, April 24, 2015.

[3] Ibid.

2 thoughts on “Bruce Jenner’s Journey

  1. I absolutely agree with everything you’ve said here. I was so impressed with the respectful atmosphere of the interview and felt that I learned a lot from it. Thank you for posting!

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