Thank You, Bruce Jenner

Bruce (among others before him) has brought light once again to a marginalized and misunderstood group of our fellow human beings, and for that, we owe him a debt of gratitude.

Bruce Jenner, 65, the gold medal decathlete from the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal and the famous patriarch from reality TV, is transitioning into a female. The long anticipated Diane Sawyer Special was a two-hour in-depth interview wasting no time getting to the heart of the matter, with Bruce musing about how lucky the women in his life were to get to wake up in the morning and just be who they are (following Bruce/Diane’s lead in the interview, I’ll refer to Bruce as “him/he”).

I wasn’t sure at first how to take Diane Sawyer; was she really as confused about gender identity as she seemed, at times grappling with Bruce’s answers, or was she pretending so the puritanical, fuddy-duddy conservative viewers of ABC would keep watching? By the end of the interview, the strategy (if it was) seemed rather brilliant, albeit contrived: If she could be convinced, maybe a Republican could be too.

Bruce put himself and his family on the line and impressively got some pretty major issues in front of a lot of people: education on transgender issues, job discrimination, violence against black trans women, suicide, definitions of gender identity and sexual orientation versus one’s biological sexual organs.

Remarkably, Bruce repeatedly and very eloquently differentiated his “self” from his physical body. “I’m not stuck in anyone’s body … I’m me.” This is the essence of consciousness, of the state we are trying to achieve when we meditate. We are not our bodies. We are not our thoughts (you cannot be your thoughts and also be the observer of your thoughts). Our society is so tunnel vision focused on defining who we are by what we look like (ironically, capitalized on by his own family’s reality TV show Keeping Up With The Kardashians), and likely most of us struggle with this, every day. It was brilliant for him to so clearly articulate what his struggle was in a way that we can all relate to. The courage to unapologetically be himself is pretty damn inspiring.

My favorite part of the interview was when Bruce reaffirmed that being a woman is a good thing. Diane Sawyer said, “You can still want to identify as a woman and still?” and Bruce quickly filled in with a smile, “… kick butt.” Yes, there is no shame in being a woman, identifying as a woman (yes, I throw “like a girl”). The World’s Greatest Athlete was, in fact, a woman. Maybe if as a society we didn’t fundamentally devalue women, there would be less hand wringing about his transition. Who cares what he looks like? He is still the same self he has always been.

Bruce Jenner is 65, but as a self-described loner, the people closest to him, whom he loves the most and is most concerned about, are his 10 children, mostly in their 20s and 30s. Brandon was the most heartfelt and tear-inducing Jenner interviewed, expressing deep love and compassion for his father. Brandon might be representative of Gen Xer’s, who are sandwiched between the boomers (who regret the chances they did not take), and the Gen Y’s, who have been re-writing the rules from the minute they could text and start a .com. Perhaps that deep connection to a younger generation has helped give him the courage he needed to finally live his life on his own terms.

Bruce Jenner was under no obligation to share this journey. Courageous, indeed. Vulnerable, most definitely. Is that vulnerability absolute key to his emotional wellness as he moves forward? No question. After a cosmetic procedure to reduce the size of his Adams apple, Jenner spoke about coming face to face with considering suicide. Ultimately he chose against it, realizing, “I wanna know how this ends.” I think we ALL want to know how this ends.

Bruce (among others before him) has brought light once again to a marginalized and misunderstood group of our fellow human beings, and for that, we owe him a debt of gratitude.

Christina Crowe is a 30-something senior sales consultant, as well as a Certified Coach and Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology candidate. She lives north of Toronto with her husband, their son, two stepsons, and new puppy. Follow her on Twitter at: @CndCounsellor, Instagram at: @christina_crowe and at

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