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April 29, 2015

To a person in our little group, there’s a feeling of discomfort on this topic.

We saw the individual soon to be formerly known as Bruce Jenner on TV.  We listened as he described his feelings of always being a she.

We recognized internal conflict and anguish, and we sympathized. And yet,  there’s something about this situation that kept us from joining others who cite his “courage” and call him a “hero.”

Why the hesitation? Well, it was hard to articulate initially. In fact, our group discussion of the matter was tentative and halting.

It began with an observation that each of us has someone in our family, or a friend or colleague who is gay or lesbian. And each of us believes whole-heartedly that it would be wrong to treat a gay or lesbian person differently. By extension, intellectually, we know it would be wrong to treat a transgendered person any differently.

But wait … is that construct acceptable? Connecting gay and lesbian to transgendered?

Well, the linkage is established by the fact that it is, indeed, an LGBT community. And yet, some of our gay and lesbian friends aren’t thrilled about the Jenner matter. Not at all.

Our gay and lesbian friends are professionals. Their greatest desire is for the day when questions about one’s private life aren’t even raised.

The Jenner situation makes them uncomfortable because it has become “a spectacle.”

It was indeed a gay friend who used that word, and when he said it, it triggered a broader realization for us.

Every successful social movement requires sound strategizing.  Same sex marriage was successful because the people running the campaign had the good sense to think about “the face” of the movement. When they ran statewide TV ads it was individuals whom the rest of society could embrace. Remember? They ran ads with parents and grandparents appearing with their gay children. It looked like any family anywhere and it was.  The approach created true sympathy for these families and led to broader acceptance in society.

The problem with Bruce Jenner is that he’s not the Olympic star he once was – he’s the star of a reality TV show. We don’t want to be mean about this, but reality TV is definitely not reality. It’s the opposite.  It’s a shallow, selfish, staged and phony world. And the Kardashians? They’re not the family down the street. They have nothing in common with anyone in the real world.

As a result, having Jenner as the face of the transgender community might be a problem. Having his story told as part of the Kardashian reality TV show might be a recipe for ridicule, not acceptance.

One Comment leave one →
  1. April 29, 2015 2:39 PM

    Jenner outright said in the interview that they are not a spokesperson for the transgender community. And while admittedly the whole thing has the air of spectacle it’s not one of their making, they have in fact been quite demure about the whole thing. A year in the tabloids, several years on the show before that, and this is the first time they’ve spoken openly, which is not the behavior of someone out for attention. I sincerely believe their intention is to to what good they can.

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