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Bruce Jenner: the interview and the family perspective

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Writer’s Note: at this time, Bruce Jenner is still choosing to use the pronouns “he/him/his” and therefore, I used these pronouns in this piece. Also, please note that I am only speaking from my own experience and perspective. Finally, I have the explicit consent of my sibling to share what I shared.

 

The Interview

I was nearly speechless and overwhelmed with the sensitivity and beauty in the interview with Bruce Jenner which aired last night. This two hour interview felt moumental to me on many levels.

In essence, Bruce Jenner spoke his truth. He shared that he is transgender and has chosen to transition into becoming his true self, a female. He shared his story explaining his internal struggle and the life in which he has lived until now. He shared about his disclosure to family members. He shared about the moment he had recently where he fully understood why so many of the transgender community turn to suicide.

In addition to hearing from Jenner, we heard from some of his children, his sister, and his mother. There were also clips of other members of the transgender community that were included and there were some valuable educational moments in the interview.

What I was most struck by was the raw truth from Jenner. I found myself beaming with pride for him while crying tears of joy. Not only for him, but for this community. Yes, Jenner is not the spokesperson for this community and he made that clear. He can only speak to his story and experience. Yet, in doing so, he was courageously speaking up for the thousands who cannot, who are silenced. He brought attention to the staggering suicide and murder of the community while mentioning the trans folks of color who are targeted most. This is huge. This was on ABC. With Diane Sawyer. Done well, not flawless, but done well.

 

The Family Perspective

Family has always been the most important part of Jenner’s life. He didn’t want to disappoint or hurt his children in his choice to transition. This would cause him to hesitate and even stop years into his first transition in the ’80s. At the age of 65, he decided he could no longer live inauthetically. With this, he bravely spoke his truth to each of his children and his family.

The responses he received were simply beautiful. They supported him. They loved him. This would not change any of that, even with the mixed bag of emotions they may feel.

This is important to highlight. Someone disclosing their truth and stepping into it will impact the family. Individuals may delay or choose to never do this to avoid hurting family members, to avoid losing their family members along with so many other reasons. In this, Bruce, the Jenners, and the Kardashians are no different.

In the interview, it was said that although we’ve seen so many examples of families handling transition negatively, this family was showing that it can be done differently.

I sobbed and sobbed at this. I knew exactly what this meant and how it felt. I could truly empathize. I too am alongside a family member in the process of their transition, my sibling I love so damn much.

I understand how it can be difficult to wrap your brain around. I understand that there will be lots of questions and curiosity and confusion and unintentional mistakes. I understand that we too have our own process in the transition. I understand the fear for our loved one, wondering if they will be safe- this, this is what is what I worry about most. But, I also understand the signifigance in their courage to be authentic. I understand that there is nothing more beautiful and powerful than someone who honors who they really are. How life can shift from being about surviving in the lie to thriving in their truth.

Everyone may not understand it and that’s ok. No one has all of the answers. What is important to know is that we are all human, that we all deserve to live the life we desire and deserve. And to be kind, kindess is essential. Let this teach us that living authentically is not only brave, but necessary.

Resources

Gender Identity Center of Colorado

GLAAD

Trans Lifeline

Until next time,

Lily

 


headshotAbout the Author:

Dr. Lily A. Zehner, MFT-C is a therapist who specializes in sex, intimacy, and relationships. Her private practice is located in Denver where she helps others reach their fullest relational and sexual potential. To learn more about her and her services, please feel free to take a look around her website.

About the Author
4 Comments
  1. Lisa Pouba Reply
    love this. Brave and crazy, it brought tears to my eyes. I understand your fears for your sibling, and want you to know that you are a blessing.
    • Lily Reply
      Hi, Lisa! Thank you for not only reading this very vulnerable piece, but sharing about the emotion you felt. You too, are a blessing- thank you!
  2. Tamara G. Suttle, M.Ed., LPC Reply
    Hi, Lily! Just wanted to drop in quickly to say "thank YOU" for sharing your own story and your own journey - giving other family members a healthy way to undergo their own journey. I think the general public doesn't see therapists often enough modeling an honest life, grappling with their own challenges, and not always "doing it perfectly." I, too, was touched by this interview. We had taped it to watch today. It was touching and painful and beautiful all at once. How wonderful for him that his family is willing to struggle privately and publicly for Bruce . . . and also so that other trans folks can know that it is possible and that there are ways to find support even within their own families. Bruce talked so openly about so many taboo topics including suicide, cross-dressing, lying to protect the ones we love, and the cost of staying silent. Sending out thanks tonight for his courage and humor and willingness to use his voice to be a beacon of hope for those that cannot speak up for themselves just yet. Lily, also sending up thanks for your voice and courage (and that of your sibling) for paving the way. I am hopeful that soon . . . very soon . . . those in the trans community will experience doors and arms opening wide to embrace the gifts that every one of them is . . . as we all are.
    • Lily Reply
      Hi, Tamara! Your words and support are priceless. I really appreciate hearing your experience watching the interview. There was so much to absorb and appreciate from the two hours. Being vulnerable and honest in this piece was equally terrifying and necessary. Like I shared, this interview really spoke to me from the shared family perspective. My family is sacred and because of that, I want to protect it yet speaking about my own personal experience felt right. I haven't seen any other pieces written from the family perspective (although his second wife did write a very honest piece on Huffington Post) since the interview and it was what I felt needed some discussion as well. This interview aside, I have fortunately read other pieces from a family member, but even then, it is scarce. I hope this changes as people begin to feel safe to share and willing to talk about their own process along the transition. Thank you for reading and sharing about your thoughts and feelings. More importantly, thank you for the support!

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