Let the debacle begin. In an interview slated to air April 24, Bruce Jenner will sit down with Diane Sawyer to discuss his decision to become a woman. TMZ reports the interview will discuss his life’s journey and what lead him to announce his “transitioning” now. He will also supposedly discuss how he has identified as female since he was a young child. The three ring circus consists of: 1) His involvement in the hugely popular reality show ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians”, 2) The fact the he was the epitome of “maleness” and world famous for winning the gold medal in the decathlon and
3) The backlash of the transgendered community.
The LGBT community has been better represented in the past few years in the media and on television. Ellen DeGeneres hosted the Academy awards, Glee and Pretty Little Liars have gay leads and Last year the Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay marriages. More recently, TIME magazine had transgendered actress Laverne Cox on the cover with the Title “America’s New Civil Rights Frontier”. So at this crucial junction this may not be the right Olympian to pass the “baton” to. What’s next, “Khloe and Bruce take San Francisco”, in it we get to see Kim and Bruce go shopping for Bras? I bet Gloria Allred thinks the Kardashian clan are publicity whores.
To gain acceptance from conservative communities, LGBT need to educate people subtly, not bust in with a sledge hammer. The perception by many is that the transgendered struggle is disingenuous. Drian Juarez of the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Transgender Economic Empowerment Project says, “Much of the hostility toward transgender people comes from people who think the transgender person is trying to fool them. But Tran’s people’s appearances”, she said, “aren’t a costume…” For better or for worse, because of Jenner, we will be hearing a lot more about the Trans movement. So to help you navigate through the madness I have included a GENDER GLOSSARY:
• Transgender– Identifying as a member of the sex opposite to that assigned at birth, and the desire to live and be accepted as such
• Transvestite– (or transvestic fetishism) A psychiatric diagnosis for sexual interest in (crossdressing). Mostly hetero men who are ok with assigned sex
• Transsexual– desire to live and be accepted as a member of the opposite sex, usually accompanied by a sense of discomfort with, or inappropriateness of, one’s anatomic sex, and a wish to have surgery and hormonal treatment to make one’s body as congruent as possible with one’s preferred sex.
• Transman– A female to male Trans person assigned a woman at birth
• Transwoman– A male to female Trans person assigned a male at birth
• Trans airlines– Sometimes a plane is just a plane
• Eonists– Term invented by Havelock Ellis in 1925 to describe crossdressers. (see Cheveliar D’eon)
• Hermaphrodite– In biology any organism that has reproductive organs assoc. as male and female
• Intersex– a variation in sex characteristics including chromosomes, gonads, or genitals that do not allow an individual to be distinctly identified as male or female
• Drag Queen– is a person, traditionally male, who crossdresses and often acts with exaggerated femininity
• Androgyne– Possessing masculine and feminine qualities
• Gynophile– Sexual attraction to masculinity
• Androphile– Sexual attraction to femininity
• Crossdresser– An Individual who prefers to dress of the opposite sex
• Gender Identity Disorder– Also called gender dysphoria. A formal medical diagnoses, (see Transgendered)
• Genderqueer– Gender indent that is not masculine or feminine
• Gender-neutral- Opposed to any formations or assignments of gender
• Non Binary– Not believing in two distinct genders
• Agender– Possessing no gender or genderless.
• Third Gender– Belonging to a third yet unnamed gender
• Bigender– Belonging to two genders
• Pangender- Identifying as all genders
• Cisgender– Any non-transgendered person or adhering to assigned sex
- Gender Margarita Blender– Produces intoxicant which increases likelihood of cross-dressing
- Transgender fender-bender– Car crash involving 2 or more trans people
Tired yet? All the terminology is out of hand- “Hey LGBT Ru Paul called and said your acting dramatic.” Americans were just getting accustomed to the right racial terminology for everyone and now this? It’s ironic that a group of people eager to disband prejudicial stereotypes is so insistent on labeling every minute faction.
There is no denying that all members of the LGBT community have had a tough road and transgendered folks are enduring more of the hardship now. A 2011 survey of more than 6,400 transgender people by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National LGBTQ Task Force shows the real life struggles.
–More than 90% of the transgendered people surveyed reported having experienced harassment or discrimination at work, they are four times more likely to be living in poverty and have an unemployment rate twice that of the general population. Twenty five percent of Trans people have been physically attacked because of their gender status and hundreds are murdered every year. 41% had tried to commit suicide (dwarfing the general population figure of 1.6%) and up to 50 percent of transgender teenagers attempt suicide.
The community has been thorough a lot and the tide is changing but navigating from here in a palatable way is crucial. Bruce Jenner’s announcement, whether he excepts it or not, comes with an awesome responsibly. Nick Adams, the spokesperson for GLAAD is concerned. “When you make a spectacle out of guessing who is and isn’t transgender, it harms real transgender people just trying to go to school or work and trying to live their lives,”
If Jenner talks about important issues confronting the community, stays away from reality TV, moves into womanhood slowly (maybe getting a stylist) he could be an important spokesperson for the struggle of Trans people everywhere. If not things could get hairy–